New York Asters, sometimes called “Michaelmas daisy, ”are native plants that burst into bloom in August filling the late summer gardens with daisy-shaped flowers in blues, purples, pinks and white — and some of them have double blooms.
They can grow three to five feet tall depending on the cultivars and the soil type.
New York Asters love to grow in full sun in average to moist soils.
The plants will grow shorter in sandy soils and taller in rich loamy soils.
Don’t be afraid to try some of the taller cultivars because they make great plants at the back of the garden as a backdrop, and when in bloom the tall flowering plants become the stars in the garden.
Each plant has many multiple stems creating a dense mounded shape.
The daisy-shaped flowers grow on the tips of all of the stems — so the more stems, the more blooms.
When they are in bloom they will attract an amazing amount of colorful butterflies and other pollinators, and they bloom for as long as six weeks.
Asters are not very tasty to bunnies or deer who will often eat around the plants, leaving the beautiful flowers for us to enjoy.
New York Asters are not aggressive or invasive plants in the garden and they stay just where they were planted.
To keep them healthy they should be dug up and divided at least every two to three years.
Dig them up in the early springtime and replant the vigorous side growth and discard the older center growth.
There are a large number of beautiful cultivars including some more compact plants.
“Blue Lagoon” Aster grows less than 2 feet tall but spreads out about 2 1/2 feet wide.
The flowers reflect the lovely name, a clear blue in color.
Another cultivar is “Coombe Violet’ which grows 3-4 feet tall and is covered in violet-purple flowers.
“Henry III” blooms later into September but the waiting is so worthwhile because the bright purple flowers have twice as many petals.
Aster “Peter Harrison” is a dwarf growing 1 to 1 1/2 feet tall and wide with clear pink flowers.
A lovely dwarf aster is “Woods Blue” which has a rounded habit that becomes completely covered with tiny blue flowers while “Royal Ruby” Aster has semi-double red flowers with sunny yellow centers.
This is a great time to purchase the Asters locally, picking the colors and sizes that fit into your own garden.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)