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Genus Aster

Aster Aster lateriflorus 'Lady in Black' Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Bluestone Perennials
ASS-ter
Aster is a large genus of 250 species of annuals, biennials, perennials, and subshrubs from many different kinds of habitats, mainly in North America. The flowers resemble small daisies, with yellow disk florets, and white, pink, blue, or purple ray florets. The leaves are generally alternate, simple, and lance-shaped. There is an aster for most any type of garden, including borders, rock gardens, waterside plantings, dry areas, and wildflower gardens.  
Noteworthy characteristics: Daisy-like flowers in white or shades of pink, blue, or purple. Many attract butterflies and offer valuable late-season color.
Care: Growth requirements vary among species, but all need either full sun or partial shade. Taller species should be staked in spring and may be cut back by one-half in late spring or early summer. See species reports for specific requirements.
Propagation: In spring or fall, sow seed in a cold frame, or divide or separate runners. Some species may be propagated from basal cuttings as well.
Problems: Verticillium wilt, gray mold, powdery mildew, rusts, white smut, aster yellows, and many fungal leaf spots and stem cankers are common. Asters are also prone to damage from slugs, snails, aphids, tarsonemid mites, and nematodes.

Species, varieties and cultivars for genus Aster

Ampelaster carolinianus Ampelaster carolinianus
(Climbing Carolina aster)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This perennial vine sends out abundant pale purple to lavender flowers beginning in late October. It grows to 4 to 5 feet tall, and frost does not seem to impede the blooms. It can attract bees and butterflies well into November.

To get the best flower display, give climbing aster as much sun as possible. It should also have something to lean on, like a fence, a trellis, or an ornamental shrub. Don't prune it over the winter, no matter how dead it may look. It’s better to wait to tidy up things after the new growth appears in spring.

Aster × frikartii Aster × frikartii
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This plant flowers profusely and for an exceptionally long time, from early summer to mid-fall. Its flowers are violet-blue.

Aster × frikartii 'Wonder of Staffa' Aster × frikartii 'Wonder of Staffa'
('Wonder of Staffa' aster)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This repeat-blooming aster produces bright, 2-inch-wide, violet-blue flowers from mid-summer into fall. It grows to 3 feet tall and 1 to 2 feet wide and prefers full sun and average, well-drained soil.

Aster dumosus Aster dumosus
(New York aster, Michaelmas daisy)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This is a short-growing aster with lilac-blue flowers and creeping rootstocks. Many cultivars exist. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.

Aster dumosus 'Wood's Pink' Aster dumosus 'Wood's Pink'
(Bushy Aster, Hardy Aster)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This is a short-growing aster has creeping rootstocks and pink, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.

Aster ericoides Aster ericoides
(Heath aster)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This clumping, bushy perennial has slender stems and small, lance-shaped, medium green leaves. From late summer to late fall, it produces white flowerheads with yellow centers to a half-inch across. Its cultivars may bear flowers tinged pink or blue.

Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’ Aster lateriflorus ‘Lady in Black’
(1 user review)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Although it’s valued for its autumn blossoms, ‘Lady in Black’ creates a stir from the moment its dusky purple leaves unfurl in spring. By summer’s end, thousands of tiny dark buds dot the densely branched 3-foot-tall plant, promising an explosion of color.

Aster macrophyllus Aster macrophyllus
(Bigleaf aster)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

This striking, richly-textured, deciduous ground cover has heart-shaped leaves that turn mauve in autumn. Purple, blue, or white flowers appear in late summer to early fall.

Aster novae-angliae Aster novae-angliae
(New England aster)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Strong, almost woody, stems bear large sprays (to 10 inches) of violet-purple flowers.

Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome' Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome'
(New England aster)
(9 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Growing to less than 2 feet tall and wide, 'Purple Dome' covers itself with semi-double, deep purple, daisy-like flowers from late summer to midfall. In addition to being mildew resistant, it attracts butterflies. It's great as a border specimin and as a cut flower.

Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies' Aster oblongifolius 'October Skies'
(October skies aster)
(2 user reviews)
Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

'October Skies' is a dwarf aster that is low to the ground and mounding. It flowers in the fall when most other plants have finished for the season, covering itself with hundreds of dark sky-blue flowers.

Aster tataricus Aster tataricus
(Tatarian aster)
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Hardiness Zones: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

Tatarian aster is an impressive, stately perennial with a flowering height of 3 to 6 feet. It can look you in the eye yet require no staking. More important, this aster flowers longer than any other garden aster, beginning in late September and early October and continuing into November. The 1-inch-wide, light lavender flowers are a magnet for local and migrating monarch butterflies. This plant tolerates many soil types, can form large colonies in a few years, and is easily divided.

Aster tongolensis Aster tongolensis
(East Indies aster)
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This is a mat-forming aster with thick, almost leafless stems that support solitary, violet-blue ray florets and orange-yellow disk florets.