Asters, sometimes called Starworts or Frost Flowers, consist of a large collection of tubular flowers clustered together as the central disk and surrounded by many petals arranged in ray pattern. Asters are commonly known as being closely related to the Sunflower family. The flower head is about one to one and one half inch in diameter. The ray flowers are almost always a different color than the central disk. The rays come in many different colors but are never yellow which is a common color for the central disk. Asters typically bloom in late summer or early fall.
Growing Requirements for Asters
When grown from a seed the plant will typically germinate between fifteen and thirty days. Asters prefer moist soil that is well drained in order to avoid rotting the roots. They will tolerant light shading but they prefer full sunlight for most of the day. Seeds and transplanted seedlings should be planted at least 18 inches from one another.
Taking Care of Asters
Asters require regular watering and should not have any water poured on them from directly above in order to prevent the spread of diseases. Mature populations of asters, called clumps, should be pruned and divided around every three to four years in order to prevent overcrowding. The tops of asters should be pinched back once every summer in order to encourage fresh, healthy blooms. Most asters are capable of surviving the winter months but only if they are not kept too moist as that could cause the roots to freeze.
History and Uses of Asters
There are upwards of six hundred species of asters which are grown all over the world. However there only two species native to the British Isles, one of which is extremely rare. Also there is only one species native to America. Asters are historically and culturally known for their star like shapes. Because of their hardiness asters have been associated with survival and are normally found where most other plants cannot grow.
The flower famously appeared in 1918 during the Hungarian revolution. The protesters would often pin the flower to their lapels when they went on marches.
Diseases and Pests
Asters are often afflicted by powdery mildew which is a fungal disease. The plant is often overrun by common insects as well. Regular treatments of fungicide and pesticides can eliminate any ongoing issue with both. However, use only when needed otherwise the plant may experience adverse effects.
Additional Information on Asters
Additional information on asters can be found on the following websites:
Further details about species located in North America can be found on the University of Wisconsin website.
Details on how to grow and take care of Asters can be found at the official Old Farmer’s Almanac website.