“New England asters”, October 2020 POM
I love pumpkins. I love Halloween, and my favorite color is orange. That means, yes, I always grow a ton of orange marigolds and orange chrysanthemums. That’s why I’m so surprised that one of my favorite autumn plants isn’t any of those things! It’s New England aster (until recently known botanically as Aster novae-angliae , but now re-classified as Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).
New England asters are perennial plants mostly from, you guessed it, Eastern North America. They occur primarily in rich, regal blues and purples, which are the types I tend to prefer, but they also come in pinks, whites, and almost-reds. They are every bit as easy to grow as chrysanthemums and offer such a refreshing palette of colors. Give them the same growing conditions as chrysanthemums too: full sun and water when dry. Depending on the variety, New England asters can grow between two feet to five feet, so read those plant labels!
Also like chrysanthemums, they are easily divided in late winter/early spring to produce more plants. I pinch off the stem tips after each third leaf on New England asters (and chrysanthemums) to encourage lots of stems and to delay flowering until autumn when we want it most. Stop pinching on the Fourth of July. Easy! Here is a photo of ‘Bluebird’ New England asters with some ‘Black & Blue’ salvias from the garden.
Chico is so beautiful and colorful in autumn. Grow a few New England asters to add to the bounty. If you give them a try, let me know what you think!