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The New England Aster, now known as Symphyotrichum novae-angliae [sim-fy-oh-TRY-kum, NO-vee ANG-lee-a], Aster novae-angliae [ASS-ter, NO-vee ANG-lee-a] is a flowering herbaceous perennial of the aster family Asteraceae.
Native to almost every area across eastern North America, the plant is commonly called the New England Aster.
This name is a reference to the fact it’s native to New England or the USA.
Other common names include:
- Last rose of summer
- Savory-leaf aster
New England Aster Care
Size & Growth
The plant is a fast grower, especially when all the necessary growing conditions are met thoroughly.
With self-seeding and division every couple of years, the plant grows aggressively.
It has the potential to grow up to 6’ feet in height and have a 2’ – 3’ feet width.
Additionally, it is easy to grow and care for and is long-lived, making it a perfect addition to cottage gardens and meadows where other wildflowers also grow in abundance.
Flowering and Fragrance
The flowers of the New England Aster plant are its most attractive feature.
Daisy-like, the flowers grow in abundance and make excellent cut flowers to put in bouquets and table settings.
They grow in lovely clusters and are about 1” – 2” inches in diameter in shades of violet or lavender.
The blooms have rose-purple, lavender or white ray florets with orangish-yellow centers.
Flowers appear on sturdy stems during the fall.
They are the brightest and most beautiful under the sun.
When it gets dark at night or on a cloudy day, the flowers droop.
You will see them pursuing their glorious display when the sun starts shining the next day.
Light & Temperature
The plant is native to eastern North America and is hardy to USDA zones 4 to 8.
Since the plant blooms in the fall, it prefers a mildly cooler climate.
As for light, the plant loves to bask in full sun.
But it can also survive and flower well when planted in partially shaded locations.
Watering and Feeding
New England asters have average watering needs.
It does love moist well-drained soil despite being drought resistant.
Then the weather starts getting warmer, check the soil to make sure it doesn’t dry out completely.
You also need to be careful about overwatering.
Too much moisture may lead to wilt and root rot.
Soil & Transplanting
The plant is not picky when it comes to soil and thrives in average light to medium soils.
The plant grows in heavy clay soil but doesn’t care for it.
Heavy soils with poor drainage can lead to Aster wilt.
Choose well-drained soils with capabilities to sustain medium moisture.
Rich soils are also preferred for healthy growth.
The plant is not particularly fond of transplanting.
Division is done once every other year to keep the growth going strong.
Grooming and Maintenance
The Aster novae-angliae daisy is a low maintenance plant. Pruning is not required.
If flower growth is overwhelming, cut the flowers for a table bouquet.
Before midsummer arrives, cut the stems back.
This will allow for bushier foliage, increased flower production, and height control, which prevents the plant from flopping overgrowth.
The plant is self-seeding, and it grows rapidly.
If you want to curb the growth and prevent self-seeding, cut back the growth after the plant flowers.
Taller plants may require staking or other support to stay upright and not flop over.
Check out its cousin the Michaelmas Daisy – Aster Novi-belgi.
How to Propagate New England Aster
The plant is propagated in various ways, including seeding, division, and softwood cuttings.
- When propagating with seeds, collect them a few after the last frost has passed.
- Allow the seeds to mature on the plant and then pluck the nutlets from the head.
- Treat them with a 3-month long cold and moist stratification.
- Sow the seeds directly outside in the fall.
- Sow the seeds about 5/8 deep and cover with the soil.
- In spring, when there is new growth, divide mature plants by sectioning off individual stems with the roots.
The plant is also propagated by softwood cuttings in late spring.
New England Aster Pest or Diseases
Fortunately, the plant does not get plagued by any serious insect or disease.
However, you need to keep an eye on a few things.
For instance, the plant has some susceptibility to powdery mildew.
Aster wilt, in specific, could be considered an occasional problem.
However, this is true for plants growing in heavy clay soil with poor drainage.
New England Aster Uses
Blooming in the fall, the New England Aster adds a touch of color and bright contrast to the dimmed color the fall brings.
It is planted in perennial borders alongside garden boundaries and in groups in garden beds.
The plant is categorized as a wildflower.
This means when the New England Aster is planted in meadows or wildflower garden, it creates effective naturalization.
It is also used in pollinator gardens as it attracts butterflies and different types of bees.
The plant also holds special value for Native Americans as it is a part of their ancient medicine.
Different indigenous groups use the plant in different ways to treat a number of ailments.
For instance, the Cherokee use it in a poultice while the Chippewa people smoke the roots to attract the game while hunting.