Asters are in the daisy family and flower mostly in late summer and autumn, which gives them their common name Michaelmas daisy. Asters are ideal for growing in mixed borders, with grasses and other prairie-type perennials.
Asters are a great transition plant, bridging the seasons from summer to autumn. The bright, daisy-like flowers make a colourful splash and provide a rich source of nectar and pollen for late-flying insects, and many varieties make good cut flowers.
In botanical terms there are two main types of Asters, north American and European. Most North American species come under the name of Symphyotrichum or Eurybia, but many people still refer to them as asters.
Where to plant asters
Plant asters in dappled or partial shade, in any type of soil. Asters can also be grown successfully in containers.
How to plant asters
Asters are easy to plant. Plant them as you would any perennial. Watch our video guide with Monty Don on how to plant asters:
How to propagate asters
You can increase your stock of asters by taking cuttings between April and August. After planting out in spring, they will flower the following year.
Growing asters: problem solving
Mildew is a common problem among many aster varieties. Keep plants well-watered, and don’t let the soil dry out, but also look for varieties that are more mildew-resistant.
How to care for asters
Deadhead plants to keep them looking good and to encourage more flowers. Cut aster plants back hard after flowering in late Autumn. In midsummer, pinch out the top shoots to encourage flowers.
Great aster varieties to grow
- Symphyotrichum ‘Ochtendgloren’ (pilosum var pringlei hybrid) – previously known as Aster ‘Ochtendgloren’, this has typical lavender flowers with bright yellow centres. A taller variety, it works well at the back of a border
- Symphyotrichum laeve ‘Calliope’ – a particularly tall aster, with masses of small, lilac-blue flowers with yellow centres
- Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Samoa’ (‘Dasthree’) (‘Island Series’) – with purple flowers with bright yellow centres
- Symphyotrichum ‘Coombe Fishacre’ – the small, lilac-blue flowers have yellow to purple-brown centres
- Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Algar’s Pride’ – with large, single lavender-blue blooms appearing late in the season, this is a tall variety, best for the back of the border
- Symphyotrichum novi-belgii ‘Royal Ruby’ – these unusual maroon flowers have bright yellow centres. A compact plant, it’s good for containers or planting at the front of a border