In my never ending search to find flowering plants that do not need a lot of care I present to you the Aster. As you might remember from previous articles I am a lazy gardener. I like my garden and yard to look great, but I need to spend a lot of time fishing and building things and doing other man oriented stuff. Well the Aster fits well into my easy care garden.
There are over 600 varieties of this species and they come in all sizes. From the alpine Asters that grow only to 6 inches tall to the New York and New England varieties that can grow to 4 feet or more in height. They are an extremely hardy species and survive our Colorado winters and dry conditions well. Probably the worst thing you can do to an Aster is over water it. Mine gets sprinkled every couple of days during the summer when the lawn sprinklers come on and they look great.
When I planted them in the spring I gave each plant a cap full of Osmocote 14-14-14 slow release fertilizer and have not touched them since. It is now the end of September and as you can see from the pictures the beautiful pinks and purples really give the garden some wonderful fall colors.
How to grow Asters – mix with Lazy Susans or Coneflowers for contrast.
The bigger varieties of Asters I plant in the back of the garden and the small ones go in the front. Coneflowers, Daisies, Mums and many other flowers are great to plant around Asters and give you a variety of color. Asters tend to last a long time and it is best to thin them every two or three years to keep them growing strong. They are very easy to transplant in the spring so when you thin your Asters, don’t throw them away, plant them somewhere else in your yard or give them to a friend.
Tall Asters make a nice focal point in the yard for Fall color.
To thin just dig up the clump of Asters and divide the root clump into three or four small clumps. Plant these right away and give them a good drink of water. We tend to have very poor soils in Colorado so I amend the soil with Vermiculate, compost, sand and fertilizer (use whatever is handy).
In the late fall after you get a killing frost you might want to prune up your Asters by trimming off the dead flowers and shaping the plant to suit you. Also pick up those trimmed off dead flowers and throw them away so that the seeds do not germinate and produce more Asters. What is wrong with that you might ask? Asters grown from those seeds seldom produce the same colored flowers as the parent plant.