Top 5 Perennials for the South


New England Aster

Asters serve as the symbol for the 20th wedding anniversary.­
Asters serve as the symbol for the 20th wedding anniversary.­

­Although it might not seem correct to begin a top five list of Southern perennials with a flower called the New England aster, Aster novae-angliae is native to much of the United States and Canada, stretching from the Atlantic Coast to Wyoming. New England aster has since been cultivated across all of the U.S., and is one of the country's most popular summer flowers -- known for growing along roadsides just about anywhere. Aster, which translates from the Greek for "a star," probably got its name from an early European settler with an interest in botany in the Northeast [source: Garden Guides].

The New England aster grows anywhere from 3 to 7 feet (1 to 2 m) tall with furry, long leaves that are thick at the base and pointed at the end. The flower is composed of a yellow, disc-shaped head to which 40 or more purple or pink petals are attached. Unlike many South­ern perennials, the New England aster requires about a month of cool soil to germinate properly, so successful gardening of these plants may not be possible in some areas of the U.S. South. ­

You may want to use an herbicide prior to planting the seeds, as some fungi and diseases are know to prey on New England aster. Once your New England asters have begun growing, the upkeep is fairly minimal. With the exception of some weeding and watering­ during the initial growth period, you won't have to do much to keep your New England aster flowers in bloom through the summer. Some modest weeding and watering should do the trick [source: Garden Guides].