It is one of the magnificent things about fall —those beautiful flowers of asters. Each season brings its own glory, but the late season spectacle brought on by tiny blue to white flowers (and all of the bees that they bring) may be the best!
We love them so and want you to love them too, so here are some easy tips on "how to do asters."
Let them steal the show
If you can muster a bit of self control, the wait till late in the season is so worth it. Here an old parking strip is filled with asters making for spectacle that catches your eye from a mile away. Now this garden sits quietly awaiting its call and then becomes a brilliant billowing mass of blue and white flowers –wonderful for us and so many bees. The stems can be cut back in the spring.
Use them as height and structure
In this meadowy planting, these tall asters rise above the soft greens of sedges and grasses to create a focal point in the garden. Allow these asters to go to seed and fill in the gaps (maybe even some gaps down the block…) and edit as needed next season.
Contrast them with striking seedheads and warm tones of fall
The bright color of asters go so well with more subdued colors of grasses and dark contrasting seedheads —it really makes them pop. Here aromatic aster is planted with black-eyed Susans and side oats grama for a shorter parkway planting. These asters will feed late season bumblebees and the black-eyed Susans attract finches and other small birds.
Mix them together
With so many asters to choose from, don’t feel that you must stick with just one. Match taller species together for a variety of texture, color, and an extended bloom time. Shorter asters can mingle in with short goldenrod and grasses. Asters make wonderful cut flowers too, so don’t limit yourself to flowers in the garden, snip and edit a bouquet for inside as well.
Plant them in the shade
Asters are just as fab in the shade as in the sun —you just need to pick the right ones. Big-leaved, short's, heart-leaved and so on... Planting in large groupings with understory species such as sedge, geranium, Jacob's ladder, columbine is the way to go. Pictured here, the puffy seedheads of big-leaved aster are just as charming as the flower (which gets going a bit earlier than most), and the bract that is left behind??? OMG! So beautiful and resembling a constellation of tiny starts, it is a favorite in the winter garden.