When we think of fall-blooming perennials we often think of chrysanthemums. But mums aren’t the only pebble on the autumn beach. Perennial asters are often overlooked when planting perennial flowerbeds, which is unfortunate because they add great impact to the fall garden.
Here’s the scoop on the perennial group called “fall asters:”
- Asters present the grand finale to the perennial garden, blooming from late summer through light frosts until the show is ended by very hard freezes.
- The name “aster” derives from the Greek word for star, describing aster’s starburst flower appearance.
- Aster are usually the final flowering food source available for pollinators like bees and butterflies before winter.
- Once classified with the botanical genus name Aster, they’ve recently been given the new genus Symphyotrichum, which can sometimes be found in the fine print of plant tags beside the variety’s common name.
- Fall asters are generally winter hardy in zones 3 and 4.
- There are many different named varieties of fall aster, and garden centers usually carry a few options.
- To choose between aster varieties, note the height and color, which are the two main differences in types. Colors include purple, blue, lavender, pink, rose and white. Heights vary from over 4 feet to low-growing 8-inch mounds.
- Fall asters are best planted in full-sun exposures.
- To keep tall varieties bushy, pinch back plants by about one-third in early June. This helps prevent tall types from becoming leggy and floppy.