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Top 5 Perennials of the West


5
Asters
Asters serve as the symbol for the 20th wedding anniversary.
Asters serve as the symbol for the 20th wedding anniversary.
iStockphoto.com/WinterWitch

­ You can find just about any shape or size of aster since the genus offers more than 250 species to choose from. Want something to grow tall? Want to grow miniatures? The variety of asters will allow you to find exactly what you need.

In general, aster flower heads are daisy-like, producing long, thin petals with a yellow center. Other asters have smaller, massed or compact flower heads. They come in a variety of colors, such as purple, pink, blue, violet and white. There are so man­y types of asters that it would be impossible to list them all. Here are some more common asters you can work with if you are searching for specificity:

  • California aster (Aster chilensis)
  • Oregon aster (Aster oregonensis)
  • Eaton's aster (Aster eatonii)
  • Italian aster (Aster amellus)
  • Goldilocks aster (Aster linosyris)
  • White Wood aster (Aster divaricatus)

Asters tend to prefer moist soil, so if you live in a dry climate, be sure to keep them well watered. The tall varieties also have a tendency to bend or break in strong winds, which can be easily remedied by staking. Asters will go wild in direct sun, but may need some shade in hot climates. If your asters get out of control, go ahead and divide them every few years. You can propagate using this type of division or share the extra plants with your fellow gardeners. Asters are a perfect plant for a butterfly garden, as their many varieties will attract an equal variety of butterflies [sources: Botanica's Pocket Annuals & Perennials; Lamb, Chambers and Allen].