A Galaxy of Asters
Aster means “star”, which seems appropriate. They look like the heavenly stars that we see from an earthbound perspective. And so they are at their best when blooming in great masses, a Milky Way of asters.
Thank goodness for Short’s Aster (Symphyotrichum shortii). Because this year it is the only Aster species blooming with star-like multitudes in our garden. The other asters are blooming, but they’re not blooming enough.
One reason, I think, is that August and September this year have been too hot and too dry. This has caused a number of plants, not just Asters, to bloom early and briefly.
This may have impacted the New England Aster (S. novae-angliae), which usually has great masses of bloom.
Usually New England Asters open like this: pop … pop … pop … KABOOM! This year it’s more like pop … pop … pop … pop-pop … sigh.
Aromatic Aster (S. oblongifolius) is another underperformer this year. Not sure why, since it’s supposed to like hot, dry weather.
In some cases I may have gone overboard with the cutting back in May/June. This is particularly the case with some Crooked-Stem Aster (S. prenanthoides by the back porch. I cut it back so hard that it just faded away. Maybe its feelings were hurt.
I used to have LOTS of Calico Aster (S. lateriflorum). In the Sidewalk Border it grew to the size of small shrubs, and it self-sowed, as they say, freely. So I tore it all out. The bees did love the tiny flowers, though.
Lately I’ve been tentatively allowing it to come back here and there. In the shady Back Garden, I’ve noticed, it is not nearly so rampant.
One Aster that is still on probation is White Woodland Aster (Eurybia divaritica). It really hasn’t started to spread much. It’s pleasant, but not exactly thrilling.
How have your Asters performed this year?
No, my Asters simply disappear: The rabbits eat them. I really like Short’s Aster, Sky Blue Aster, and Aromatic Aster. Oh, and NE Asters with Goldenrods. It’s so weird that you had a hot, dry August/September, because we had a hot, rainy, humid August/September, and we’re not very far from you. The Asters are still blooming with abandon here; no frost yet.
No frost here either, and October has started out very rainy.
Mine are ok here in the UK, they seem to have enjoyed the long hot summer that we had. I have one that seeds around, I can’t remember the original name, and at this time of year I’m grateful that it pops up in lots of places.
The garden would be kind of quiet without them, I think.
I love asters because they seem to be able to tough it out whatever the conditions (here in the UK mine don’t seem phased by weather extremes or heavy clay, for example). Plus they are so pretty and bring a smile to my face every time I see them 🙂👍🏼
They are tough plants that don’t need to be coddled, a huge plus in my book.
I have a wild aster out front that gets cut back and the roots disturbed when I pull weeds out from around it. It is doing ok. I had wondered if I pulled it out of the ground. The other asters in my garden are the domesticated variety and they are blooming alright just not fully as yet. I think time will bring them around…or at least I hope so.
I hope so too. In our garden some of them never really peaked.
Our Asters are pale blue, a bit like your Shorts Asters. I have grown to appreciate Asters much more since reading your blog…they grow anywhere, don’t mind heat or frost, and flower for a long time, and now I can think of them as a galaxy of stars .. lovely😀
They’re not fancy, but they get the job done.
I may have five blooms out there. Over the years, they took over, and I pulled them out. So, thanks for sharing yours.
You’re welcome. As the song says, we don’t know what we have ’till it’s gone.
I love “a Milky Way of Asters.” Haven’t seen too many this year, mostly because I have been at my desk editing my new book. Hope to get out next week with my camera. The stars of fall, that’s for sure.
Hope you get some free time before the flowers are all gone.
Not too likely. But I will take time to peek at things. 😉
Beautiful! Our weather over the past month has been the total opposite of yours – wet and chilly. Some things have appreciated that, while others have languished.
That’s a good thing, I guess.
Love them but the seem to fizzle out in the head or are so tasty the are eaten ….
…..heat…. not head.
They do seem to fizzle in the heat.
Some of my asters bloomed early, then pooped out. Others that I think I misidentified on my blog as ‘Purple Dome’ are going gangbusters: tall and purple and easily seen from the house. You get the prize as the most diverse aster collection, I think!
Those tall purple ones sound like NE Asters, maybe.
Thanks for putting a name on what I think is in my front yard – Short’s Aster. I don’t have a lot of it but it looks delicate and lovely right now. I planted Heath, White Woodland and Crooked Stem last summer along with the Goldenrod and I think it’s the Heath that is blooming like crazy but I’ll have to go looking for the other two…
I don’t have Heath, but I’ve seen it in catalogs. Supposed to be really good for dry soils, I think.
What lovely shades of blue they are. Mine seem to have disappeared altogether this year. xxx
That’s too bad!
We have asters everywhere you look but we’ve also had feet of rain.
Feels like we’ve gotten feet of rain this month – and then a temp spike today to over 80.
Thankfully we didn’t get our feet of rain all at once!
Growing up we had woodland aster in the woods around our house. So pretty in the shade of the trees. We don’t have any in our garden currently, but they are a wonderful plant this time of year.
I should get out to the forest preserves to see if there are many blooming in the shade.
Things still look pretty good there, even if you say it’s not up to the normal show.
Mine are doing well enough this year, but the NE asters are way too tall and floppy. I guess I’ll be the one chopping them back too far next year.
Flopping is often a problem with the NE Asters. This year I cut back the outer stems but let the ones further back grow to their full height. But all of the required staking.
I really enjoyed seeing all the asters in your garden! I’ve been thinking about planting some in my garden as it would be nice to still have some flowers there right now. Many of the asters are past their prime here too, but the Heart-leaved asters are still blooming away–and they were among the first to bloom too. That’s a really nice photo of Calico aster btw!! I find them difficult to photograph.
They are really hard to photograph, I agree. They are most attractive in a mass, but then its hard to get the individual flowers and especially those little purple centers
I’ve found four species of aster in my area, but they don’t seem especially prolific this year. It may be a little early for them, and it may be that we’ve had too much rain for them.
But as it happens, the aromatic aster, aka ‘fall aster’ down here, is going to be highlighted at our native plant society’s meeting next Monday as our plant of the month.
It’s a beauty if planted in the right conditions.
Ha! How are mine performing? I don’t grow asters. They are uncommon here, and the few we grow go by other names. The wild asters are doing rather well, which is odd. I would think that they would be more variable than those in gardens because they are not cultivated for conformity like those in gardens are. I am not certain, but it seems to me that they do well when other plants that compete with them do not. However, they die back in autumn, as other plants dominate. Garden varieties of asters only recently started to become available, shortly after goldenrod showed up in nurseries. . . . Perhaps someday, we will get Joe Pye weed.
The asters I grow probably are not well-adapted to a CA climate. I’d bet there are some wild species that are native to parts of the state, though.
Yes, I think that the wild ones are more common than we give them credit for, both there and here, although some are known by different names.
Hi Jason. I love your ‘Short’s’ asters. My asters have thrived in the hot dry summer, funnily enough. I always thought they needed lots of rain as well as the heat, but not the case this year. One of the mysteries of the galaxy….
Some species of aster are very good with hot, dry conditions.
The Sky Blue Asters in my yard were sparse and short lived this year.
Maybe you had similar conditions to ours.
We must have gotten all the rain. My yard/garden was under water most of the summer and even though the water finally has retreated, the ground is still wet. But my asters didn’t do much but flop over and rot this year, and all the virginia creeper dropped its leaves before they could turn pretty colors. In the field there has been very little color as well, whether from turning leaves or blooming asters. Hm. Maybe next year.
I feel like the leaf color has improved over the last week. I might try to go to the Chicago Botanic Garden soon.
I think you are right. I thought everything was just going to go brown but yesterday at a forest preserve I saw lots of gorgeous color. I hope you have a good visit, and I’m looking forward to the images. 🙂