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Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)

New England Aster, Michaelmas Daisy, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Aster Novae-Angliae

Providing an outstanding late-season show with its masses of violet or lavender daisy-like flowers, New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) is one of the tallest and most spectacular of the Asters.

What is New England Aster?

The New England Aster, scientifically known as Aster novae-angliae, is a striking and important native North American plant with many benefits for your garden and local ecosystem.

Native: The plant is native to most of the central and northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, from Manitoba south to Louisiana and east to Maine.

Habit and Size: The New England Aster is a herbaceous perennial, often forming large, bushy clumps. The plant has an upright growth habit, producing one to several leafy stems from a woody base. On average, it reaches 3-6 feet, though shorter garden varieties are also available.

Flowers: The flowers are typically about 1-2 inches (2-5 cm), with rose-purple, lavender, or white ray florets and orange-yellow centers. They are borne in profusion at the tips of sturdy stems, bringing vibrant color to the landscape when many other plants finish their bloom. On cloudy days or at night, the flowers droop and close. As soon as the sun shines again, they pursue their glorious display and will do so for weeks.

Foliage: The leaves are lanceolate and alternate, growing up to 4 inches (10 cm) long.

Blooming Season: The New England Aster blooms from late summer to late fall, providing late-season pollen and nectar to a variety of pollinators.

Hardiness: This plant is quite hardy and can tolerate USDA zones 3 through 8.

Uses: New England Aster is excellent for naturalistic plantings, rain gardens, borders, or as a part of a pollinator-friendly garden.

Pollinators: The flowers are attractive to a wide array of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths. It’s particularly important for monarch butterflies that rely on late-season nectar sources for their migration.

Toxicity: New England Asters are non-toxic to humans and pets.

Deer and Rabbit: The plant is fairly unpalatable to browsing deer and rabbits.

Drought: While it prefers moist, well-draining soil, it has good drought tolerance once established.

Invasiveness: New England Asters are not considered invasive. In fact, habitat loss makes them less common than they used to be.

Key Fact: Aster novae-angliae is a vital source of late-season nectar for pollinators, especially the monarch butterfly. It’s also resistant to many pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance choice for your garden.

Overall, the New England Aster is a standout choice for those seeking a beautiful, hardy, and beneficial native plant.

Why Should I Grow New England Aster?

New England Aster is a special choice for many reasons. Here are some features that make it stand out:

Late Season Blooms: New England Aster is a wonderful plant to have in your garden for its vibrant late-season blooms. When many other plants are starting to fade in the fall, the New England Aster is just getting started. Its purplish-blue flowers can help to extend the color in your garden well into autumn.

Attracts Pollinators: If you’re interested in attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators to your garden, New England Aster is an excellent choice. It provides a critical late-season nectar source for pollinators, particularly for migrating Monarch butterflies.

Hardy and Adaptable: New England Aster is a hardy plant that can thrive in a range of conditions, including various soil types and climates. It’s also drought-tolerant once established, making it a good option for areas with low water availability.

Disease and Pest Resistant: This plant has good resistance to many common garden pests and diseases, reducing the need for chemical treatments.

Native Plant Benefits: As a native plant, New England Aster helps support local ecosystems and biodiversity. It’s likely to be well adapted to your local climate and soil conditions, reducing the need for supplemental watering, fertilizing, and other care compared to non-native plants.

Versatile in Landscaping: New England Aster is versatile in its use in the landscape. It can be used in naturalistic plantings, rain gardens, borders, and as part of a pollinator-friendly garden.

Deer-Resistant: While no plant is completely deer-proof, New England Aster is known to be somewhat deer-resistant, which can be a significant advantage in areas where deer browsing is a problem.

In summary, growing New England Aster can bring a host of benefits, from extending your garden’s bloom season, to attracting pollinators, to contributing to local ecosystems.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Aster
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 6'
(30cm - 180cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Maine, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Rabbit, Clay Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders, Rain Gardens, Small Gardens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Traditional Garden

Most beautiful New England Asters

Garden Design with New England Aster

New England Aster can be a vibrant, captivating addition to any garden design. Here’s how you might incorporate it:

Cottage Gardens: The vibrant, daisy-like blooms of the New England Aster fit perfectly in a traditional cottage garden. Combine them with other late bloomers such as Chrysanthemums and Sedum to maintain visual interest late into the season.

Perennial Borders: Place New England Asters at the back of perennial borders for a pop of fall color. They pair well with other tall, late-blooming perennials such as Goldenrod (Solidago spp.) and Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum).

Wildlife Gardens: Use New England Aster as part of a pollinator-friendly garden design. Their late-season nectar is a favorite of bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects. Consider companion plants like Milkweed (Asclepias spp.), Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), and Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta).

Naturalistic Plantings: In larger spaces, consider using New England Asters in a naturalistic planting design, mixed with ornamental grasses such as Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) or Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). The grasses provide a soft backdrop for the vibrant Aster flowers.

Rain Gardens: Since New England Aster can tolerate moist soil, they can be effectively used in rain gardens or along the banks of ponds or streams.

Fall Color Theme: Plant New England Aster with other autumn-blooming or fall foliage plants to create a garden that peaks in the fall. Companion plants could include Japanese Anemones (Anemone x hybrida), Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), and Ornamental Kale (Brassica oleracea).

Remember that New England Aster can grow quite tall, so it’s often best situated towards the back of a garden bed. Its vibrant purple flowers can be used as a contrast to plants with yellow, orange, or white autumn colors. With proper placement, this plant can help ensure your garden remains vibrant and attractive through the fall season.

Companion Plants

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) is a versatile plant that can pair well with many garden companions. Some possible companion plants for New England Aster include:

Solidago spp. (Goldenrod): This plant’s bright yellow flowers contrast beautifully with the purple or pink blooms of the New England Aster, and they both peak in late summer to fall.

Echinacea spp. (Coneflowers): These perennials have similar growing needs and bloom times to New England Asters, and their daisy-like flowers can complement each other well.

Rudbeckia spp. (Black-Eyed Susans): The rich, golden-yellow flowers of Black-Eyed Susans can create a stunning contrast with the deep purples and pinks of the aster.

Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass): The tall, airy form of switchgrass makes it an excellent backdrop for the vibrant colors of New England Aster.

Sedum (Stonecrop): Sedum’s late-season blooms and succulent foliage provide an interesting contrast to the Aster’s feathery leaves and daisy-like flowers.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed): The bright orange flowers of Butterfly Weed contrast well with the aster and both are excellent for attracting pollinators.

Eutrochium purpureum (Joe-Pye Weed): Joe-Pye Weed’s late summer to fall bloom time aligns with New England Aster and its pink flowers can complement the aster’s purple tones.

Grasses like Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem) or Miscanthus sinensis (Maiden Grass): These grasses can provide an interesting textural contrast and stand tall alongside the Aster.

Chrysanthemums: They are fall blooming and provide color variety and match well with New England Asters.

Always consider the specific growing conditions and requirements of each plant to ensure they are compatible when planted together.

Companion Plants for New England Asters

Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass)
Schizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)
Eutrochium purpureum (Sweet-Scented Joe-Pye Weed)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
Solidago (Goldenrod)
Rudbeckia fulgida (Black-Eyed Susan)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Sedum (Stonecrop)

Growing Tips

Growing New England Asters requires the following steps:

Location and Soil: New England Asters prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade. They thrive in rich, well-drained soil and can tolerate poor soil conditions.

Planting: You can start New England Asters from seeds, but it’s usually easier to plant nursery-grown transplants. Plant them in the spring or fall. Space the plants about 1 to 3 feet (30-90 cm) apart, depending on the variety. They should be planted as deep as they were in their pots. Provide good air circulation to avoid foliage diseases such as powdery mildew.

Watering: After planting, water them regularly until they’re well-established. They can tolerate some drought once established, but for the best blooms, keep the soil moderately moist.

Fertilizing: New England Asters generally don’t require a lot of fertilization. If your soil is poor, you can work in some compost or a balanced slow-release fertilizer at planting time.

Maintenance: To encourage bushier growth and more blooms, you can pinch back the stems in early summer. Stop pinching later to allow buds to form. Asters may self-seed if grown in ideal conditions. Cutting back after flowering will prevent undesired self-seeding.

Pest and Disease Control: Watch out for common aster problems like powdery mildew and aster wilt. To reduce the risk of disease, ensure good air circulation around your plants and avoid overhead watering.

Winter Care: In the fall, after the plants have finished blooming, cut the stems back to about 2 inches (5 cm) above the soil. Add a layer of mulch around the plants to protect them through the winter.

By following these steps, you can enjoy the beautiful, late-season blooms of New England Asters in your garden. They’re a great way to add color to your garden in the fall and attract pollinators.

Garden Examples

A Late Season Border Idea with Asters and Grasses
A Beautiful Fall Border Idea with Asters, Verbena and Grasses
A Splendid Fall Border Idea with Penstemon, Asters and Grasses
A Hot Summer Border Idea with Dahlia, Crocosmia and Aster
A Glowing Fall Border with Asters, Anemones and Grasses
A Terrific Fall Border with Asters, Solidago and Rudbeckia
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 3 - 8
Heat Zones 1 - 8
Climate Zones 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Perennials
Genus Aster
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 6'
(30cm - 180cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Cut Flowers, Showy
Native Plants United States, Maine, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Midwest, Northeast, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming
Tolerance Drought, Deer, Salt, Rabbit, Clay Soil
Attracts Bees, Butterflies, Birds
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders, Rain Gardens, Small Gardens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden, Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow, Traditional Garden
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