Aster Habitat and Guide
When you plant Asters you are planting for the future.
Our late season Butterflies, Bees and other winged wonders need food to get through the Autumn season. You may want to plant as many varieties as you can find, diversity is the key to life in the garden. Asters are easily seeded into the landscape most anytime of year. I like to cast the seeds collected from meadows, fields and the roadsides in late autumn and on non snowy days in the winter.
Asters in the Northeast
... a slideshow
Asters are an inspiration
These images were photographed over the past three years, in my garden/laboratory, in our clients Wild Native Pollinator Gardens and also out in the natural landscape. These flowers provide food and habitat for all of our late season pollinators. Asters, with so many varieties and colors all are perennial and will create communities over time in your garden, attracting more pollinators each year!
In the Autumn, we have been trained to cut down our gardens and sometimes put out a few Mums for Autumn color. Did you know that Mums are from Asia and have NO relationship with our native insects? But they are colorful and are sold everywhere. This is a problem in our modern gardens today. Neat and tidy gardens equal the loss of birds, and the bugs that feed them. By doing the action of "putting the garden to bed" we take away life, every year, decade after decade. We have turned our wild fields and meadows into housing, suburbs and cities. We now need to give back the habitat we have taken over these past decades.
Every Autumn these bees and butterflies have to figure out where to get food for the next several months until the killing frost. As we build and take away their habitat it is harder, every single year for our insects. Planting Asters and their companion plants create habitat and provide food for these beauties. It is planting for the future, for our winged community of life that lives in the landscape, wild and cultivated.
If you are wondering what you can do, have empathy and think like these bugs. Understand their needs for food, housing and habitat. We call it a garden, these winged wonders call it home. We
all should be working towards a better future and one way is letting nature live in your garden,
year round. Do less, enjoy more.
When you plant Asters and their late blooming companion plants and stop cutting down your pollinator gardens, it can and will change the world. Winter will do the work for you and there will be homes, in the stems and leaves for our precious pollinators. Wait until Springtime and gently cut your garden back. After the snow and ice are gone, cut up the stems and leaves and then use as mulch in your Spring garden! Wild gardening is a joy to behold! Saving the planet is up to each
one of us, are you in? ~ kdb
Asters live in many different Habitats. From very wet, Bog Asters, to very dry, Flat topped Asters these flowering plants are adaptable to most climates. Native varieties exist the world over. A wonderful trait, they can grow almost anywhere their seed can take hold, even in a crack in the sidewalk, a rocky ledge and places that are hot and dry and can winter over in the far north! They do not need much fuss or care, they prefer to be left alone to do their job of providing food and habitat to the landscape. You can plant seeds or plants, plugs to larger sizes, and if you water the first year you will have success, some seeds take a few years to pop up and make a statement. You will be treated to all of the life these beauties and their companion plants attract to the garden. Here in Maine we have 200 varieties of Native Bees and scores of Butterflies and Moths. It can be a winged insect paradise, if you plant nectar laden flowers and host plants they will populate your world with wonder. Imagine enchantment right outside your door.
Favorite Companion Plants:
Many Asters are Purple, Lavender, Blue and White. These plants mix well with our Native Plants. In the spring and summer they add great structure in the back and mid garden beds.
The many varieties of Golden Rod are spectacular and tall with a very rich yellow color. They mix well in the back of the garden, being so majestic and buzzing with bees. Some varieties are shorter but most are tall!
Rudbeckias are another family of golden yellow flowers that are quite wonderful growing amidst the clouds of flowering Asters. These varieties bloom from mid summer until the frost!
Black Eyed Susans, Irish Eyes, Goldstrum and Henry Ellers. All are perennial and heavy bloomers, with very small water needs and start blooming as the early summer blossoms are fading. Some other great companions in a late fall garden are Verbena Borenensis ~ Echinacea, Native Prairie Coneflower ~ Eupatorium, Joe Pye Weed ~ Sedum, Autumn Joy ~ Ornamental Grasses ie. Mexican Feather Grass, Feather Reed Grass and Miscanthus Variegated ~
Asters in the Landscape,very showy and super easy to grow!
Where to plant in the garden.
Tall Varieties. 36-60"
Plant these varieties in the back of the garden.
New York Asters Symphyotrichum novi-belgii
Smooth Asters Symphyotrichum laeve
Flat Topped Aster Doellingeria umbellata
New England Asters Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
Frost Aster Symphyotrichum pilosum
Medium Height 18-30"
Plant these varieties in the mid area of your garden.
Blue Wood Aster Symphyotrichum cordifolium
White Wood Aster Eurybia divaricata
Aromatic Aster Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
Lower growing 6-12"
Plant these varieties in the front area of the garden.
Big Leaved Aster Eurybia macrophylla
Snow Flurry Symphyotrichum ericoides
click to order Aster seeds
Southern Maine Nurseries.
Want to know more about Wild Gardening?