Aster (or other, species depending)  

(ass' ter)

Common name: Aster, varies with species

Family: Asteraceae, Aster

Height x width: 6"-8' x 1-3' (depending on species)

Growth rate: moderate

Foliage: alternate, 1-5" long, broad linear or lanceolate, may clasp stem, surfaces may be slightly pubescent

Flowers: 1-2" wide daisy-like flowers in reds, pinks, purples, white; some species with more and smaller flowers; generally fall bloom; single or in corymbose clusters for such as alpinus, amellus, carolinianus, tongolensis

Hardiness: zones 4-8

Soil: well-drained

Light: sun

Pests and Problems: rusts, powdery and downy mildews, leaf spots, aster wilt (Verticillium), chrysanthemum lacebugs, mites, aphids, Japanese beetles

Landscape habit, uses: borders, lower cultivars massed, containers, natural areas, very attractive and one of few late-season plants for bees and butterflies

Other interest: many species native to N. America; from the Greek aster meaning star, refering to the flower appearance; some species such as the yellow linocyris and common asters have been put by some taxonomists in new genera Linocyris and Lasallea, however these changes have not been generally accepted; not to be confused with the annual China Aster, Callistephus; a large genus much worked on by taxonomists, with much breeding of new cultivars especially in middle of this century in England and Germany

Other culture: tall species need staking; many of the low asters such as New York types may need dividing every 2-3 years to maintain vigor; some cultivars, especially new introductions, are grown as a pinched pot crop similar to fall mums

Propagation: seed (18,000 seeds per ounce), division, root or stem cuttings


The following species and cultivars are the most commonly found in U.S. commerce, with those marked * the most popular. Species traits such as flower color may vary with cultivars. Bloom times of fall generally refer to mid-September for zone 4, and about 10 days earlier for each zone warmer.  Botanists have greatly reclassified this genus in recent years after DNA and other analyses.  The Aster genus is now restricted generally to species of Old World origin, those North American natives in new genera, primarly Symphyotrichum.
Genus Species zones height flower color bloom time native
Aster *alpinus 4-7 6-9" purple early summer Europe
Aster amellus 5-7 24-30" purple fall Italy
Ampelaster carolinianus 6-9 7-12' pink fall SE U.S.
Symphyotrichum cordifolius 3-8 4-6' pale blue fall eastern N. Amer.
Eurybia *divaricata 4-8 1-2' white fall N. Amer.
Symphyotrichum dumosus 4-8 3-6' lilac blue fall N. Amer.
Symphyotrichum *ericoides 5-8 3-4' white fall N. Amer.
Aster x frikartii 5-8 2-3' lavender late summer Swiss hybrid
Symphyotrichum *laevis 4-8 2-3' blue, violet fall N. Amer.
Symphyotrichum lateriflorus 3-7 2-3' white, pink fall N. Amer.
Lonactis linariifolius 4-8 1-2' blue, violet fall N. Amer.
Eurybia macrophyllus 3-7 2-3' violet fall N. Amer.
Symphyotrichum *novae-angliae 3-8 4-6' various fall eastern U.S.
Symphyotrichum *novi-belgii 3-8 1-3' various fall eastern U.S.
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 3-8 2-3' purple fall east, central U.S.
Aster oolentangiensis 5-8 3-5' blue, pink fall eastern N. Amer.
Symphyotrichum pilosus 5-9 2-3' white fall N. Amer.
Oligoneuron *ptarmicoides 3-8 1-2' white fall central N. Amer.
Symphyotrichum puniceum 3-8 3-4' various fall eastern N. Amer.
Symphyotrichum sericeus 4-8 1-2' violet, purple fall central, eastern U.S.
Eurybia sibirica 3-8 1-2' purple fall N. Amer. (NW)
Aster tataricus 4-8 4-6' purple, blue fall Siberia
Aster tongolensis 5-8 1-2' violet, orange center early summer western China
Doellingeria umbellata 3-8 4-6' white fall eastern N. Amer.


Additional species notes:

alpinus (al-pie' nuss)--Alpine Aster; best in North, Plains, West

amellus (a-mell' us)--Italian Aster; hairy (pubescent) stems and leaves, usually seen as cultivars, one of parents of x frikartii

carolinianus (cair-o-lin-ee-aa' nuss)--Climbing Aster; actually doesn't climb but has long arching stems

cordifolius (core-di-fol' ee-us)--Heart-leaf Aster; good cut flower, many branches with small flowers under 1" wide, smooth stems, heart-shaped (cordate) basal leaves, thin lanceolate upper leaves

divaricatus (die-var-i-ca' tuss)--White Wood Aster; thin, nearly black cascading branches spreading to 3', many corymbs of small white star-shaped flowers creating clouds of white; will tolerate shade although with fewer flowers and density

ericoides (err-i-coy' dees)--Heath Aster; many small needle-like leaves like Erica, many starry flowers covering plant, good cut flower

x frikartii (fri-car' tee-ii)--Frikart's Aster; a cross from Switzerland in 1920 of amellus x thomsonii, mildew resistant, popular

laevis (laa' viss)--Smooth Aster; dark stems and bluish-green foliage

lateriflorus (lat-er-i-floor' us)--Calico Aster; name from the many small flowers white fading pink at various stages creating a calico effect, flowers are on one side of the stems, small leaves turn nice dark reddish fall color; var. horizontalis, Horizontal Aster, has branching in horizontal layers and is more commonly seen than the species

novae-angliae (no' va an' glee')--New England Aster; the roadside and meadow aster of much of New England and elsewhere, usually seen as cultivars, some cultivars very rust susceptible, good cut

novi-belgii (no' vee bel' gee)--New York Aster; usually seen as cultivars with most of any aster, also known in UK as Michaelmas Daisies as they bloom around St. Michaelmas day Sept. 29, usually lower than New England asters, many hybrids often listed in catalogs under x dumosus although this hybrid doesn't exist (only as seldom seen species)

ptarmicoides (tar-mi-coy' dees)--Upland Aster; many white flowers covering plant, leaves to 6" long and ½" wide

puniceus (pu-ni' cee-us)--Swamp Aster; prefers wet areas, doesn't tolerate dry; hairy stems and leaves, thick stems

tataricus (ta-tar' i-cuss)--Tatarian Daisy; sturdy so even with height seldom need staking, large basal leaves to 2' long and 6" wide, one of latest asters to bloom in late fall


The following are only the most often seen in U.S. commerce of about 200 available, with over 400 cultivars available in the U.K.
Cultivar species flowers other
*'Alert' novi-belgii crimson, double dwarf 1' 
*'Alma Potschke' novae-angliae bright rose  
'Bonningale White' novi-belgii white medium 3'
'Crimson Brocade' novi-belgii crimson medium 3'
'Eventide' novi-belgii violet-blue, semi-double medium 3-4'
'Fanny's' novae-angliae blue  
*'Harrington's Pink' novae-angliae salmon-pink  
*'Hella Lacey' novae-angliae violet-blue  
'Honeysong Pink' novae-angliae pink, yellow centers  
'Jin-Dai' tataricus blue 3-5' tall, early
'Marie Ballard' novi-belgii lavender blue  
*'Monch' x frikartii lavender blue sturdy
'Monte Casino' ericoides white popular cut flower
'Patricia Ballard' novi-belgii rose pink, semi-double medium 3'
'Peter Harrison' novi-belgii pink dwarf 12-18"
*'Professor Kippenburg' novi-belgii lavender blue, semi-double dwarf 9-12"
*'Purple Dome' novae-angliae deep blue 2' tall mound habit
'Red Star' novi-belgii red dwarf 15"
'Rose Serenade' novi-belgii soft pinkish lavender dwarf 15-18"
'Royal Opal' novi-belgii blue dwarf 8-10"
'Schneekissen':'Snow Cushion'      
'September Ruby' novae-angliae ruby red  
'Snow Cushion' novi-belgii white dwarf 6-8"
'Violet Carpet' novi-belgii violet dwarf 8"
'Wartburgstern':'Wartburg Star'      
*'Wartburg Star' tonlogensis lavender blue, orange center  
'Winston Churchill' novi-belgii red medium 2-3'
*'Wonder of Staefa' x frikartii light blue  
'Wunder von Staefa':'Wonder of Staefa'      

(New England and Purple Dome photos courtesy Missouri Botanical garden plantfinder; ericoides courtesy commons wikimedia, Cody Hough)

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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