Violet, pink or white: the numerous varieties of New England aster bring color to the garden in autumn. Here you will find tips on planting and care.
Profile of New England aster:
Scientific name: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
Plant family: daisy family (Asteraceae)
Other names: hairy Michaelmas-daisy, Michaelmas daisy
Sowing time: spring
Planting time: spring
Flowering period: September to October
Soil quality: loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flowerbeds, flower bouquets, single position, group planting, planters, cottage garden, flower garden, prairie garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 (-37 °C / -35 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of New England aster
Plant order, origin and occurrence of New England aster
New England aster (Aster novae-angliae, now traded under the name Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) are popular and disease-resistant perennials that will brighten the garden in the autumn months with their pretty, colorful flowers. In contrast to the New York asters, New England asters have velvety hairy leaves. The aster species of the daisy family (Asteraceae) originates from the east coast of North America – this is also the origin of the botanical name Aster novae-angliae. There, the perennial grows on humid sites at the edge of forests and riverbanks.
Characteristics of New England aster
New England asters are robust, bushy growing perennials with numerous shoots and strong shoots, which are densely leafed up to about half height. The rootstock does not form runners. New England asters grow between 120 and 240 centimeters (4 to 6 ft) high.
The lanceolate, whole-edged, green to grey-green leaves of the New England aster are hairy and feel slightly rough. They grow up to 5 centimeters long. In autumn, the shoots branch out in the upper part to form broad and densely branched inflorescences.
The flowers of the New England asters, which appear from September to October, have a diameter of 2 to 4 centimeters and have the classic appearance of the aster. They have 50 to 90 narrow rays and, depending on the variety, have violet, pink or reddish florets with a yellow disc, the tiny, fertile flowers. The bracts are green, protruding and equally downy. In contrast to the New York asters, many New England asters close their flowers in cloudy weather as well as at night – in expert circles this is also called “sleeping position”. This characteristic – in addition to the somewhat stiff growth – is the reason why New England asters are by no means as popular as New York asters, because in autumn the rather often cloudy weather means that the New England aster cannot show its flowers in their full splendor all the time. In newer varieties, however, this characteristic has now been “cultivated out”.
New England asters form a reddish-white feather-crown (Pappus) from the seeds.
New England aster – cultivation and care
New England aster prefer a sunny location.
The soil should be nutrient rich, loamy-humic and fresh to moist.
Plant the potted asters in spring so that they can grow well over the summer. This way they will present their flowers for the first time already next autumn. As they grow relatively tall and the stems become bare from below during the course of the year, it is best to place the New England aster in the middle and rear part of a bed, so that the lower part is concealed by other plants. Tall specimens also need a support so that they do not fall over.
Care / Watering / Fertilization / Fertilization
Water the perennials particularly well in dry periods. A dose of compost in spring is sufficient for the New England aster. If you shorten the shoot tips by 10 centimeters (4 in) before the buds form, you can – if desired – move the flowering time back a little or extend it. This measure also encourages better stability. Break out lignified shoots in autumn and remove withered ones.
In order to preserve the flowering and foliage of the New England aster, the perennials should be divided every two to four years in spring. To do this, dig out the plants completely and lift them out of the ground. Remove broken root parts, prick off parts with some leaf clusters and place them in another sunny location in nutrient-rich soil. Keep the soil well moist during the growing phase.
The New England aster can be propagated by cuttings, sowing and division. The best time to cut the cuttings is in spring. Here only the young shoot tips are used. The young plants grown from the cuttings must spend the first year in a cold cold frame or unheated greenhouse. They can only move into the bed the following spring. The easiest way of propagation, however, is by dividing in spring (see above). Sowing is best done in spring in a sunny location.
Diseases and pests
In general, New England asters are less susceptible to disease than New York asters and are particularly resistant to mildew.
The New England aster is hardy down to -37 °C / -35 °F.
Use in the garden
New England asters are suitable for the middle and rear part of a perennial bed in the cottage garden or near-natural garden. Since they become bare from below, they should be covered by other plants, so they give a nicer overall appearance. Sedum, dahlias or ornamental grasses are beautiful companions in the bed. Higher growing varieties should be supported and are also well suited as planting of a garden fence.
- Barr’s Blue: variety with blue-violet flower capitula up to 5 cm (diameter) (2 in); grows up to 120 cm (4 ft) high
- Barr’s Pink: robust variety with large, pink flowers, up to 150 centimeters (5 ft) high
- Harrington’s Pink’: flowers in light pink; 150 centimeters (5 ft) high
- Purple Dome: variety with roundish-compact growth, does not grow taller than 60 centimeters (24 in); purple-violet ray florets, was found on a roadside in Pennsylvania
- Violetta: variety produces bright, dark purple flowers, with the yellow center of the flowers particularly prominent. It blooms rather late on high stems; due to its height of 130 to 150 centimeters (4 to 5 ft), it is suitable for a place in the back of the perennial bed