Asters, or michaelmas daisies, are perennial flowers. You will find garden asters in many sizes and colors. Flowers usually bloom in late summer or fall in clusters, with each blossom from half an inch to several inches wide, on stems six inches to several feet tall. Ray petals are white, blue, deep purple, or pink, and central disks are golden. Many asters are North American natives and grow in wayside places with no care at all.
How to grow: Asters grow best in full sun in good garden soil but also tolerate sandy and clay soils that are difficult for other plants. Divide them every three years and refresh the soil to keep plants healthy. Pinch tall asters back quite hard in midsummer to promote branching and flowering on shorter stems that need no staking.
Propagation: By division in spring, also from seed
Uses: Asters are excellent in garden borders and mass plantings. Containers of asters in bloom are popular in fall. Asters make good cut flowers.
Related species: Aster tataricus is a seven-foot species with clusters of lavender flowers. A. novae angliae can be the tall wild type but has also been bred into dwarf forms that stay low without pinching. A. tongolensis is a small rock-garden perennial.
Scientific name: Aster species