Asters are a genus of flowering plants that anyone can grow, but not anyone can take good care of them. While they don’t need fertilization, they need plenty of water. They also don’t need winter care, but they won’t bloom if you let other plants overshadow them.
They can be tricky, but nothing that we haven’t seen before, and nothing that can’t be handled if you’re well-informed.
To figure out how easy growing asters can be if you know what you’re doing, check out the guide below.
A Short Description Of Asters
Asters are a big group of flowering plants with about 180 species in the group. They’re common in North America, Europe, Asia, and South America. Different species of asters have differently colored flowers, but they’re all similar to daisies.
They have a yellow center (with a few exceptions), blooming in the summer and lasting almost until the winter. Gardeners love asters because they’re really low maintenance, making them ideal for new gardeners or just someone who doesn’t have much time on their hands.
Depending on the exact species, they can grow from 6 inches to 8 feet in height, but most gardeners opt for the shorter species.
How To Plant Asters
Growing asters starts with the planting, and spring is the best time to plant asters – they need some time to establish themselves to achieve a good bloom. You can get young asters in garden centers, and you should plant them as soon as possible.
In case your area is seeing heavy rain at the time, wait until it stops, but keep the roots moist by keeping them in compost.
The best spot for planting asters is a spot that doesn’t catch any shade – they like sunlight.
If you’re planting them in the ground, it’d be smart to add a bit of compost to the hole before putting the plant inside. After covering the plant with dirt, water thoroughly.
Growing Asters – Containers Or The Ground?
Asters do very well both in the ground and in containers, but container-grown asters need more water because they drain quickly.
However, they make great decorations when grown in containers, so the tradeoff isn’t that bad.
Asters need plenty of sunlight – some species can do just as well in slight shade, but most species don’t tolerate shade and they won’t grow as much if they’re stuck in a shady area.
You should aim for at least 8 hours of sunlight a day.
If you’re growing your asters in containers, this shouldn’t be a problem because you can move the containers whenever you want to. Growing them in the ground, however, means that you can’t plant them near plants that will cast a shadow.
Since they like water (we’ll get to that later), asters don’t like well-draining soil. The soil should be slowly draining and it needs to retain water for a while, especially during the summer.
Aster roots aren’t deep and they can’t reach far down, so they can only absorb water for a while if it quickly drains.
If you have well-draining soil, add organic matter into the mix and add some mulch on the ground. This will slow down the passing of water.
When it comes to pH, asters like slightly acidic soil. Adding organic matter to the soil will make it a bit acidic, so you likely won’t have to make any changes other than that.
Adult asters need to be watered plentifully at least once a week (if it rains once a week, you can skip the watering). Only water them more often if you’re going through a particularly dry phase.
Topsoil should always be moist, but the plants shouldn’t be drowning.
Growing asters need plenty of water right after planting, while adult container asters need more water and more frequent watering because of the low water retention of containers.
Unless the soil in your garden has particularly low nutritional value, you won’t need to fertilize your asters. They’re very self-sufficient and they get enough nutrients from the ground.
However, if you think that fertilizing is necessary, start with mulch and incorporate some manure too. That’ll provide the plant with enough NPK.
If that doesn’t help, use general, slow-acting fertilizer for asters in the ground, while container asters should get the liquid, quick-acting fertilizer.
Winter Care For Asters
Most species of aster can survive temperatures as low as -4°F! So, unless you live in an unbearably cold climate, you won’t have to move a finger to help your asters last the winter.
Asters do very well in zones 3-8.
If it does get super cold, though, you can add a thick layer of mulch to protect the roots. You should also water plentifully before the first frost.
Aster Pests & Illnesses
Although asters rarely have any problems, if your asters are destined to develop an illness, it’ll most likely be powdery mildew. Powdery mildew is a fungus attacking more or less every plant – you can easily recognize it by the white coat left on the plants!
Destroy the infected leaves before the winter and use a weak fungicide on the surviving plants – powdery mildew won’t return.
Aside from that, asters are as prone to pests and illnesses as any other hardy plant, and you likely won’t have any trouble.
Do Asters Need Deadheading?
No, asters don’t need you to deadhead them. Ripping the flowers off once the blooming season is over will only cause the plant to grow new flowers. Instead, it should focus on building up energy reserves.
Some people deadhead them for aesthetic reasons, but this is detrimental to the plant as it prepares for winter.
What Do I Do With Tall Asters?
Some asters can grow up to 8 feet in height. If you have that type of aster in your garden, you’re going to have to install a climbing mesh or a stake for it to lean on. They’re very flimsy plants and they’ll easily fall over without support.
Install the stake once your aster reaches 3 feet in height.
Divide Asters Every Three Years
Asters grow in clusters, and they naturally spread year after year. It can get a bit crowded that way, so it’s best to divide the clusters every three years.
Just dig up the asters in early spring and take the clusters apart by hand. Plant some of the asters in the same spot and plant the remainder in another spot.
Life will be easier for both clusters of asters this way, as they won’t have to fight for resources.
Growing asters is easy, but there are four crucial things to have in mind; they need plenty of sunlight and plenty of water, they like water retaining soil, they don’t need fertilizers, and you shouldn’t deadhead them.
That pretty much covers all you need to know about the vast majority of asters. Of course, if you have a tall aster, you’ll need to support its growth with a stake, and you might need some pesticides now and again, but that’s neither here nor there.
Asters are a great choice for someone who’s already a bit experienced at gardening, but they’re looking for more – so, what are you waiting for?