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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.

Other perennials are starting to slow down, but asters are winding up to adding 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.

  Pollinators Love Asters

Asters provide late-season food for pollinators and especially the Monarch butterfly. Pollinators are either gathering for overwintering or fattening up for migrations. The same holds true for the Monarch, who needs to make their way to Mexico in the fall-roughly 3,000 miles. Asters play a giant role in making sure migratory species get what they need to travel.

  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

Arrow-Leaved Aster

Arrow-Leaved Aster, Symphyotrichum sagittifolium Height: 3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full, Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 3-9
Soil: Clay, Loam, Rocky
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Blue
  Description: Arrow-Leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum sagittifolium) or Blue Wood Aster is a somewhat weedy, herbaceous perennial that is native to rich, dry to moist woodlands, forest margins, fields, dry meadows, bluff bases and stream banks, It is a stout, leafy plant that typically grows on smooth, branched, upright-arching stems to 2-5 feet tall. Stems are topped by dense, small-leaved panicles of daisy-like asters (each flower to ¾ inch diameter) which bloom late summer to fall.

Big Leaf Aster

Big Leaf Aster, Eurybia macrophylla Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Part Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
  Description: Big Leaf Aster (Eurybia macrophylla) is noted for its large basal leaves (4-8 inches wide). It is sometimes planted in wooded areas more for its foliage effect than for its fall flowering which is sometimes sparse. This is a rhizomatous perennial that grows 2-4 feet tall. It is native to woods and clearings. Flat-topped clusters of flowers with violet to pale blue (rarely white) rays and yellow centers.

Calico Aster

Calico Aster, Eurybia lateriflorum Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
  Description: Calico Aster (Aster lateriflorum), Side-Flowering Aster, Starved Aster or White Woodland Aster is an herbaceous, somewhat bushy perennial that typically grows to 2-3 feet tall with a slightly smaller spread. It is commonly found in a variety of habitats primarily including forest margins, stream borders, low wet woods, meadows, wet depressions of prairies and roadsides. Small white flowers bloom in clusters along the branches from mid/late August into October.

Crooked-Stem Aster

Crooked-Stem Aster, Symphyotrichum prenanthoides Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3-7
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Blue, Purple
  Description: Crooked-Stemmed Aster (Symphyotrichum prenanthoides) has narrow leaves of clasp zig-zagging stems adorned by flowers featuring 20-30 pale violet petals surrounding yellow centers. One of the shorter Asters, it prefers wood edges, stream banks and damp thickets. It blooms in late summer and early autumn. Branching clusters of stalked flowers at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils.

Heart Leaved Aster

Heart Leaved Aster, Eurybia cordifolius Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom:Late Summer
Sun: Part Sun, Shade
Zones: 3-9
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Blue
  Description: Heart Leaved Aster (Aster cordifolius) or Blue Wood Aster is a somewhat weedy, herbaceous perennial that is native to rich, dry to moist woodlands, forest margins, fields, dry meadows, bluff bases and stream banks. It is a stout, leafy plant that typically grows to 2-5 feet tall. Stems are topped by dense, small-leaved panicles of daisy-like asters which bloom late summer to fall. Flowers feature pale blue to rich blue rays and yellow centers.

Heath Aster

Heath Aster, Symphyotrichum ericoides Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3-10
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry Medium
Color: White
  Description: Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) occurs in open rocky woods, prairies and along roads and railroads. A bushy, somewhat compact plant with many-branched stems which typically grows 1 to 3 feet tall. Small, daisy-like flowers are borne in profusion in late summer to early fall. Ray flowers are usually white, but infrequently blue or pink and center disks are yellow.

New England Aster

New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae Height: 3-6 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color:Blue, Pink, Purple
  Description: New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) occurs in moist prairies, meadows, thickets, low valleys and stream banks. It is a stout, leafy plant typically growing 3-6 feet tall with a robust, upright habit. Features a profuse bloom of daisy-like asters with purple rays and yellow centers from late summer to early fall. The blooming period occurs from late summer to fall, and lasts about 2 months.

Silky Aster

Silky Aster, Symphyotrichum sericeum Height: 1 to 3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 2-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand, Rocky
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Purple
  Description: Silky Aster (Symphyotrichum sericeum) or Western Silver Aster is a herbaceous perennial of the aster family which typically grows to 12-24 inches tall. It is native to dry open places in the central plains including woods, bluffs, prairies and glades. Silky aster features a profuse bloom of daisy-like flowers from late summer to early fall, each flower featuring 10-22 lavender to purple rays surrounding a yellow center.

Sky Blue Aster

Sky Blue Aster, Symphyotrichum oolentangiense Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Blue
  Description: Sky Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense) is native to prairies, fields, wood margins and rocky slopes . It is a rhizomatous perennial that typically grows 2-3 feet tall. Daisy-like flowers with blue to blue-violet rays and yellow center disks bloom in many-flowered panicles in September and October. Ovate-lanceolate to oblong lower basal leaves are rough-hairy, often serrate and cordate at the base.

Smooth Aster

Smooth Aster, Symphyotrichum laeve Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Blue
  Description: Smooth Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) typically occurs in prairies, rocky glades, dry open woods, roadside banks and thickets. Stems are usually unbranched with variable, mostly toothed, smooth, bluish green foliage. Small flowers with violet blue to purple (sometimes white) rays and yellow center disks appear in open, loose, panicle-like clusters in autumn. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous.

Stiff Aster

Stiff Aster, Ionactis linariifolius Height: 1 foot
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4-9
Soil: Acid, Loam, Rocky
Moisture: Dry
Color: Purple
  Description: Stiff Aster (Ionactis linariifolia) is a low growing, native aster grows in clumps 15-20 inches tall and is typically found in acid soils in pine-oak or pine-hickory woods, ridgetops, upland slopes and glades. Sometimes called stiff-leafed aster because its rather distinctive linear leaves are narrow, rigid and single-nerved. Small flowers have blue-violet to purple rays and yellow center disks.

White Wood Aster

White Wood Aster, Eurybia divaricata Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom: Late Summer
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Loam, Clay, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
  Description: White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricate) typically grows in the wild in dry open woods. It grows in loose clumps with dark, sprawling, sometimes zigzag stems up to 2.5 feet tall. Distinctive leaves are heart-shaped, stalked and coarsely toothed. Small but abundant flowers have white rays and yellow to red center disks and appear in flat-topped, terminal clusters in late summer to early fall.

Further Information

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

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