By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
Aster flowers (Aster spp.) add color to the autumn landscape while offering beauty with little work when caring for asters. Growing asters often bloom in late summer and fall, but the Alpine aster offers blooms in spring. Learning how to grow aster is easy and rewarding when the star shaped flowers bloom in the landscape.
Types of Asters
Aster flowers may reach 3-4 feet or can be compact and mounding as with the Alpine-type. 600 or more varieties of aster exist. Pair asters in the natural garden with coneflowers and goldenrod for a striking display. Caring for asters can include staking and/or pruning taller types for a bushier and more compact plant.
How to Grow Asters
Growing asters is a simple garden chore. They may be started from seed in spring, but are most often purchased as a potted plant. Plant into a full sun to part sun location in loamy, well-draining soil. Keep new plantings moist and continue watering until blooms cease.
Appropriate care of aster includes watering at the base and not splashing the foliage. Getting water or fertilizer on the leaves encourages powdery mildew and other fungal diseases. Organic mulch can hold in moisture and supply nutrients as it breaks down. Apply within a few inches of aster stems, but not against them. Fertilize growing asters with a balanced plant food about once a month.
Asters need little in the way of maintenance. Care of asters may include deadheading for more blooms and occasionally includes controlling powdery mildew. This disease is most easily prevented by autumn or spring division of aster flowers, with the middle clump removed and discarded.
Powdery mildew can also be controlled with insecticidal sprays and soaps, if started early and regularly applied during the growing season. Powdery mildew usually does no lasting damage to aster flowers, but should be controlled for aesthetic purposes. Spraying may also deter the small, gray lace bug, which sometimes feeds on the succulent growth of growing asters.
Include a plot of aster flowers in the garden for fall color and beauty. Plant shorter types to accompany fall blooming mums. This hardy perennial will return for years of autumn color.