How to Grow and Care For New England Aster
The New England aster (Aster novi-angliae) is a low-maintenance perennial that blooms from August to October. Most gardeners in North America can learn how to grow New England aster. New England aster care is extremely simple once established in the garden. Continue reading to learn more about growing New England asters.
|Common Name||New England aster|
|Botanical Name||Symphyotrichum novae-angliae|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous, perennial|
|Mature Size||2-3 feet wide and 3-6 feet tall|
|Season of Interest||Summer (Late), Fall|
|Drainage of Soil||Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained|
|Characteristics||Cut flowers with a showy appearance|
|Tolerance||Deer, Rabbit, Drought, Clay Soil, and Salt|
|Soil Type||Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand|
|Soil pH||Acid, Alkaline, Neutral|
|Flower Color||Pink, purple, white|
|Hardiness Zones||4-8 (USDA)|
|Native Area||North America|
New England Asters: Growing Instructions
Till the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and remove any rocks, roots, or other debris. Add plenty of compost or well-rotted manure to the soil and work it into the top 6 inches. This improves aeration and drainage while also providing slow-release nutrients to your asters.
Dig a hole twice the size of your aster seedling’s root ball. Plant seedlings 24 to 36 inches apart, depending on the variety’s expected size at maturity. Place each seedling in its hole so that the crown (where the roots meet the stem) is at ground level.
Plant tall varieties of New England asters with plant stakes or support systems. Some varieties grow 4 to 5 feet tall and require support; others grow 2 to 3 feet tall at maturity. To keep the soil evenly moist, water New England asters deeply once or twice a week. These asters thrive in moist soil. Mildew often develops on New England asters when the soil is allowed to dry completely between waterings.
To conserve water and create a weed barrier, mulch with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic matter. Otherwise, pull weeds by hand or with a garden hoe as soon as they appear to prevent them from competing for nutrients and water with your asters. When your New England asters are 4 to 6 inches tall, pinch out the centre leaves on the growing tips. This forces the plant to produce new foliage along the stem, resulting in dense, compact foliage.
Continue pinching every few weeks until mid-August. Take care: If you pinch the plants too late in the summer, you may remove buds and prevent them from blooming. After the foliage has died back naturally in the fall, cut it back to the ground level.
Fertilize New England asters in the spring when new growth appears. Use a water-soluble fertiliser made for flowering plants or perennials. You can also use a low-nitrogen granular fertiliser like 5-10-5. Work a “small handful” of granular fertiliser into the soil in a circle around the plant’s base. Every six weeks, repeat. Every three to five years, lift and divide New England asters to keep them healthy and productive.
Types of New England Aster
Many New England aster varieties have similar appearances but different flower colours. Some examples are:
‘Harrington’s Pink‘: Rose-pink flowers
‘September Ruby‘: Ruby-rose flowers
‘Alma Potschke‘: Reddish-pink flowers
‘Purple Dome‘: Violet flowers
‘Barr’s Blue‘: Violet-blue flowers
Pinching back stems every few weeks in early summer can promote bushier, more compact growth. However, stop pinching by August or you may accidentally remove some flower buds. If your asters grow to be very tall and lanky, stake them to keep the stems from flopping over.
After the asters have finished flowering, cut them to the ground because the foliage dies in the fall. If you don’t mind a messy garden, consider leaving the foliage alone to protect overwintering insects and small animals.
Propagating New England Aster
New England aster is easily propagated through division, cuttings, or seeds. Many gardeners believe that division is the safer option because it is impossible to predict how the aster will look when propagated from seed. Wait until the aster plant is at least three years old before propagating from division. This ensures a strong root system that can be easily divided without harming the main plant.
Cut into the clump with a shovel, neatly dividing it into two parts. Replant the divisions at the same depth at which they were growing previously. Feed them bone meal or low-nitrogen fertiliser and water them frequently until they are established.
Alternatively, propagate New England aster by cuttings:
In early spring, cut a five-inch section of stem from a healthy plant. Remove the lower leaves, leaving three or four sets at the stem’s top. Dip the stem in rooting hormone and place it in a well-draining medium, such as perlite or sand. To increase humidity, place the cutting in a plastic bag. The roots should start to show up after a few weeks.
Water the ground well before the first freeze to help asters thrive. Cut the asters back to the soil level after the ground freezes and cover with 2-3 inches of mulch. If you don’t mind a messy garden, consider leaving the foliage alone to protect overwintering insects and small animals.
Common Plant Diseases
Fortunately, there are no harmful insects or diseases that affect the plant. However, there are a few things to which you must pay attention. The plant, for instance, is somewhat susceptible to powdery mildew. Particularly, aster wilt might be regarded as a sporadic issue. Plants growing in heavy clay soil with poor drainage, however, will experience this.
Moreover, prevention is crucial. Make sure there is adequate airflow among the plants in your asters to prevent powdery mildew issues. Divide your asters every few years in the early spring or fall to thin them out. Additionally, always water plants from below, not above. Fungi do not grow on dry foliage; wet foliage promotes the growth of fungal diseases.
New England Aster Uses
The New England Aster blooms in the fall, adding a splash of colour and a sharp contrast to the autumn’s subdued hues. It is positioned in groups in garden beds and in perennial borders next to garden boundaries. The plant falls under the category of a wildflower.
This means that the New England Aster effectively creates naturalisation when it is planted in meadows or wildflower gardens. Due to the fact that it draws different species of bees and butterflies, it is also used in pollinator gardens.
Native Americans place a special value on the plant because they used it in their traditional medicine. The plant is used in various ways by various indigenous groups to treat various illnesses. For instance, the Chippewa people smoke the roots to attract game while hunting, while the Cherokee use it as a poultice.