Asters have a lot going for them
Asters are among my favorite fall-blooming plants. They are hardy, fairly pest-resistant, and long-flowering favorites that, in my mind, are far lovelier than the ubiquitous, hardy mum.
Hardy from USDA zones 3 through 8, there are thousands of types of asters that would be at home in nearly every backyard across the United States. Here in the East, we have selections that range from 1 to 4 feet in height, and vary in color from pink and purple, to red, white, lavender and blue.
Many North American native asters that used to be in the genus Aster are now in the genus Symphoyotrichum. From here on out (or at least until they change it again), the genus Aster only refers to Old World species of this plant.
Regardless of the nomenclature change (and the spelling and pronunciation problems I am facing because of it), native asters are one exceptional group of plants. Not only are they a good-looking, late-blooming and easy-natured group, they lay out the welcome mat for beneficial insects and pollinators.
There are about 90 species of asters native to North America. Not only that, but there are hundreds of cultivars, varieties, and subspecies of these asters. It's dizzying.
The blooms provide color and interest very late in the season when few other plants are still going strong. The latest flowering aster I grow is ‘S. laeve,' the smooth-blue aster. It easily reaches 4 feet in height and is often in flower on Halloween in my garden. I love the periwinkle blue petals and sunny-yellow centers.
Other favorite aster varieties include the many cultivars of New England asters (S. novae-angliae). I'm partial to ‘Purple Dome,' ‘Honeysong Pink,' ‘Red Cloud' and ‘Foxy Emily.' You also should be on the lookout for New York asters (S. novae-belgii) cultivars, including the beautiful ‘Fellowship' and ‘Helen Ballard.'
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Padres snap Pirates’ 7-game win streak
- Steelers nose tackle McCullers finds performance, fitness go hand in hand
- Ford City ambulance company recognized for quality of heart attack care
- Padres snap Pirates’ 7-game win streak
- McKeesport alternative education students will move as academy closes
- Earning merit badges won’t be a walk in the park for Slate Lick Scouts
- Judge to shine light on whether West Kittanning billboard is a nuisance
- Driver dies, students hurt in school van crash in Indiana County
- Buena Vista pool anticipates its best season
- Paddleboard classes focus on fitness
- Trail construction to begin in Versailles