Ohio NativesPlantsApril 29, 2023by Colin0New England Aster

New England Aster, scientifically known as Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, is a stunning native perennial that brings a burst of late-season color to gardens and natural habitats. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the history, growing instructions, maintenance tips, and other essential aspects of New England Aster.

History and Significance

New England Aster is native to eastern and central North America and has a rich history as a wildflower in the region. It is named after its native range and was historically used by Native American tribes for medicinal purposes. Today, it is highly valued for its beauty, wildlife attraction, and ability to thrive in various growing conditions.

Growing New England Aster

Here are some essential guidelines for successfully growing New England Aster:

  1. Location: New England Aster thrives in full sun to partial shade. It prefers well-drained soil but can tolerate a variety of soil types, including sandy or clay soil.
  2. Planting: Start New England Aster from nursery-bought plants or sow seeds directly in the garden in early spring or fall. Ensure the soil is prepared by loosening it and removing any weeds or debris.
  3. Watering: New England Aster is relatively drought-tolerant once established but benefits from regular watering, especially during dry spells. Water deeply when the top few inches of soil are dry.
  4. Maintenance: Deadhead spent flowers regularly to promote extended blooming. In early spring, cut back the stems to a few inches above the ground to encourage fresh growth and prevent legginess. Divide the plant every few years to maintain its vigor and prevent overcrowding.
  5. Propagation: New England Aster can be propagated through division or from seeds. Divide the plant in early spring or fall by carefully separating the clumps and replanting them. Collect seeds from the dried flower heads in late fall and sow them in the garden or save them for future planting.

Uses and Benefits

  1. Late-Season Color: New England Aster blooms in late summer to fall, providing a stunning display of vibrant purple, pink, or white flowers. Its showy flowers add a pop of color to gardens and attract pollinators.
  2. Pollinator Magnet: The nectar-rich flowers of New England Aster attract butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. By planting this species, you can support declining pollinator populations and contribute to the overall health of your garden ecosystem.
  3. Cut Flower: New England Aster’s flowers make excellent cut flowers, adding beauty to floral arrangements. Harvest the flowers when they are in full bloom and place them in a vase with clean water. Change the water regularly to prolong their freshness.

Interesting Facts

  • New England Aster is a popular choice for butterfly gardens, as it serves as a vital nectar source for many butterfly species, including monarchs.
  • The flowers of New England Aster are daisy-like with numerous petals surrounding a vibrant yellow center.
  • Native American tribes used various parts of the plant for medicinal purposes, including treating digestive disorders and respiratory ailments.

New England Aster is a captivating native perennial that enlivens gardens with its late-season color and provides valuable resources for pollinators. By incorporating this plant into your Ohio landscape, you can enjoy its beauty while supporting biodiversity and ecological balance.

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