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An Aster Garden

Wisconsin Native Asters

Asters can save the day in late summer and early autumn when everything else in the garden looks tired or dusty. As other perennials are starting to slow down, asters are winding up to add hints of necessary color. The hues range from pink to purple, red and white.

Asters are daisy-like flowers that bloom in late-summer and early-fall. They come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, are easy to grow and bloom predictably and reliably. They attract pollinators with their bright colors and are disease and deer resistant.

What's not to like? They come in white, pink, purple and blue, they are tolerant of most soils, they bloom when most everything else in the garden is done and they are prolific bloomers.

Planting Asters

Asters can be planted anytime from spring through fall. In warm areas, avoid planting during the heat of the summer. In cool areas, plant no later than early fall so the roots have time to develop before freezing temperatures arrive.

  Soil: All types of soil, but most prefer well-drained, organically rich soil.
  Sun Exposure: Full sun, tolerates light shade, likes cooler summer temperatures.
  Spacing: Depending on which ones you're planting, they’ll need to be spaced
  Containers:They can be planted in containers using a lightweight potting mix. Make sure your pot has a drainage hole and that there is easy access to water nearby. Some people even grow potted asters indoors.
  Watering: Once established, they require little watering, unless conditions have become unusually dry and the plants show signs of stress.
  Pruning: Pinching back stems, or deadheading, several times before mid-July helps to control plant height, promote bushiness, and encourages blooming through the entire season.
  Fertilizing: Some gardeners say a layer of organic mulch will supply all the nutrients they need, while others suggest a light application of an organic fertilizer at the start of their growing season. Do not apply fertilizer once they have started blooming as it may shorten the bloom time.

12 Wisconsin Native Asters

Click on the name of the aster species to see a complete plant profile, tips for gardening with this species and a larger image.

Arrow-Leaved Aster

Arrow-Leaved Aster, Symphyotrichum sagittifolium Height: 3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full, Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Clay, Loam, Rocky
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Blue
  Description: Bladdernut, Staphylea trifolia, is a fast-growing, suckering, native large shrub or small tree that commonly occurs in bottomlands, woodland thickets and moist soils along streams. Establishes dense colonies in the wild where it is most often seen in a shrubby form. Typically grows 10-15 feet tall.

Big Leaf Aster

Big Leaf Aster, Eurybia macrophylla Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Part Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
  Description: Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, is a somewhat coarse, deciduous shrub with an open-rounded habit that typically grows 6-12’ (infrequently to 20’) tall. It is common throughout Missouri, most frequently occurring in wet open areas, low woods, thickets, swamps, upland sink-hole ponds, river bottomland and stream/pond margins.

Calico Aster

Calico Aster, Eurybia lateriflorum Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
  Description: Downy Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, also called Downy Juneberry, is a deciduous, early-flowering, large shrub or small tree which typically grows 15-25 feet tall in cultivation but can reach 40 feet in the wild. Occurs most often in open rocky woods, wooded slopes, and bluffs.

Crooked-Stem Aster

Crooked-Stem Aster, Symphyotrichum prenanthoides Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Blue, Purple
  Description: Eastern Wahoo, Euonymus atropurpureus, also called Burning Bush, is a deciduous shrub or small tree which is most often grown for its attractive red berries and fall color. Occurs in the wild in open woods and thickets, near streams and on wooded slopes. Typically appears as an upright, spreading, deciduous shrub with an irregular crown growing to 10-15 feet tall.

Heart Leaved Aster

Heart Leaved Aster, Eurybia cordifolius Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom:Late Summer
Sun: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Blue
  Description: Kalm St. Johns Wort, Hypericum kalmianum, is a small, dense, evergreen shrub or subshrub with upright branching that typically grows in a dense mound to 2-3 feet tall. It typically occurs in rocky to sandy soils, ranging from relatively dry open woods to moist lakeshore areas.

Heath Aster

Heath Aster, Symphyotrichum ericoides Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry Medium
Color: White
  Description: New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is a compact, dense, rounded shrub which typically grows 2-3 feet tall. It occurs in prairies, glades, dry open woods and thickets. Cylindrical clusters (1-2 inches long) of tiny, fragrant, white flowers (1/8 inch) appear on long stalks at the stem ends or upper leaf axils in late spring.

New England Aster

New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Height: 3-6 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color:Blue, Pink, Purple
  Description: Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is an upright, spreading, somewhat coarse, deciduous, shrub . It typically occurs along streams, rocky banks, gravel bars and in moist thickets. Grows 5-9 feet tall. Noted for its exfoliating bark (on mature branches) which peels in strips to reveal several layers of reddish to light brown inner bark (hence the common name of ninebark).

Silky Aster

Silky Aster, Symphyotrichum sericeum Height: 1 to 3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand, Rocky
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Purple
  Description: Northern Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) is a suckering, densely branched, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 3 feet tall and to 4 feet wide. It is native to dry rocky open woodland areas and thickets. It is noted for its small shrubby form, yellow trumpet-shaped flowers, dark green leaves and fall color.

Sky Blue Aster

Sky Blue Aster, Symphyotrichum oolentangiense Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Blue
  Description: Northern Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, is a native deciduous shrub with a broad, rounded habit which typically grows 6-12 feet high in moist locations in bottomlands, woods, ravines, valleys and along streams. The woody roots are shallow and much branched.

Smooth Aster

Smooth Aster, Symphyotrichum laeve Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Blue
  Description: Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)is a small deciduous tree or large multi-stemmed shrub that typically grows 15-25 feet tall with distinctive tiered/layered horizontal branching which is upward-turned at the tips. It is native to both moist and dry forests, forest margins, stream banks and fields.

Stiff Aster

Stiff Aster, Ionactis linariifolius Height: 1 foot
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Acid, Loam, Rocky
Moisture: Dry
Color: Purple
  Description: Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa, is a deciduous suckering shrub which typically grows to 8-12 feet tall with a somewhat sprawling habit. It features (1) opposite, pinnate-compound, green leaves which have 5-7 leaflets, (2) dome-shaped clusters of numerous, late spring to early summer, tiny, fragrant, white flowers.

White Wood Aster

White Wood Aster, Eurybia divaricata Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Clay, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
  Description: Round-Leaved Dogwood, Cornus rugusa, is an understory species of upland forest, both hardwood and conifer. Semi-shade tolerant, it prefers thinner canopies or openings and wood margins.

Further Information

 Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Native Berry Shrubs
 Native Ground Covers For Every Garden
 9 Native Ferns
 Create An Edible Garden

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