Aster la vista, baby

New England Aster blooms

New England Asters are leggy beauties that bring eye-catching colour to the final party of the season.

When you want to give your garden a brilliant send-off before it slips into winter, asters can supply the fireworks. Looking like mini-daisies in purple, pink or white, they’re easy-to-grow perennials and (bonus!) the best of the bunch is a native wildflower of Ontario–New England Aster (Aster novae-anglia). They’re the tallest of the asters and a stand-out with purple and gold flowers on golden brown stems.

Here’s why you’ll want to add this plant to your garden:

You get a big bang for your buck. New England Asters are not wimpy plants. They can easily grow to a metre in width and just as tall or taller. Having said that, they can start to flop over and their leaves start to wither once the plant is in flower. Put them where they can be surrounded by shorter plants or shrubs that can lend support and hide the dying leaves.

They don’t mind getting their feet wet. These plants love moist soil so they’re a great option for a spot in the garden that gets more than its fair share of wetness. In my part of Southern Ontario, a lot of homes have a ditch that runs the length of the road, bordering their front yards. New England Asters are perfect candidates for transforming a ditch (or any moisture-collecting dip) into a rain garden.

A New England Aster–outstanding in its field. [Couldn't resist.]

A New England Aster–outstanding in its field. [Couldn’t resist.]

Monarch butterflies love them. And so do bees. Since asters can bloom right into November, they’re an important, much needed source of late season nectar for these critters. Let them go to seed after the blooms are spent and you’ll help feed the birds, too.

3 thoughts on “Aster la vista, baby

  1. Pingback: Hunting swales | Rhymes with Linnaeus

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