Perennial asters slowly but surely penetrate into our gardens. Why are they attractive? Firstly, the cheerful coloring of flowers, and secondly, a variety of shapes and sizes of plants. And asters are surprisingly unpretentious. The genus Astra (Aster L.) has about 600 species and a huge number of varieties and hybrids, so you can arrange incredibly diverse compositions of constant flowering only from asters.
New Belgian Asters
The article Perennial Asters - Beautiful and Unassuming Stars was devoted to the types and varieties of spring and summer flowering time. Here we will talk about a large group of perennial asters blooming in the fall.
They will fill the flower garden with bright colors at a time when other perennials have already faded, and most pilots have finished their season. They are quite capable of extending the colorful summer palette in the mixborders and flowerbeds preparing for rest.
Autumn-flowering asters are widely represented in plant nurseries and garden centers, as they are most in demand by gardeners. In addition, it is the autumn species that attract breeders' special attention, as a result of which a huge number of varieties and hybrids have already been bred, and work in this direction does not stop.
Astra New Belgian (Virginia)
Astra New Belgian (Aster novi-belgii) - The largest group of perennial asters with more than 1000 species. This is not a species, as such, but a group of hybrids, showing great diversity in height (30 to 90 cm) and the shape of the bush, as well as the color and size of the flower. The size of the plant depends on the type of soil on which it is grown. Asters growing in areas with rich loam will be higher than those planted in well-drained sandy soil.
Astra New Belgian
Given the huge variety of sizes and colors, you can choose a plant for any corner of the garden. But their most important advantage is the flowering time. The main season is September and October, some varieties bloom at the very end of October and continue to bloom in November.
New Belgian asters grow well in sunny places, soils prefer from slightly acidic to alkaline. Care must be taken to ensure that the land is always moderately humid. Particularly close attention in this regard requires large overgrown bushes.
As a rule, propagated by dividing the bush, although seed propagation and green cuttings are possible. When planting, you need to have a good idea of the size of adult bushes and not cram them, but rather, achieve free wind blowing of each plant. To maintain high decorativeness, it is necessary to divide once every 3-4 years. In some cases, you don’t even need to dig up the whole bush for this. Instead, one or two parts are cut off with a sharp shovel from the mother plant and carefully removed. The remaining hole is covered with fertile soil and watered.
New Belgian asters often suffer from fungal diseases, especially are susceptible to powdery mildew (in connection with this, breeders are now working on the cultivation of resistant varieties). For prevention purposes, it is advisable to plant plants freely, without thickening, away from oaks, on the leaves of which a large number of various mushrooms parasitize. In rainy years, it is necessary to periodically spray asters with copper-containing solutions or fungicides (e.g. Fitosporin, Topaz).
Here are some popular hybrids that have proven their worth.
- 'Marie Ballard' - plant height 90-100 cm, blooms in August and October with numerous lilac-blue flowers. Winter hardiness is high. It prefers loose rich soils, grown in the sun and partial shade.
Astra New Belgian 'Marie Ballard'. Photo from vivaipriola.it
- 'Patricia Ballard' - a fairly large bush, growing up to 1 m in height. The beginning of flowering is in September. Flowers: double and semi-double, delicate lilac-pink color. Prefers sunny places, but can be grown also in partial shade.
Astra New Belgian 'Patricia Ballard'. Photo from vivaipriola.it
- 'Sarah Ballard' - grows in a compact bush up to 100 cm high. Semi-double flowers of purple or saturated pink color.
Astra New Belgian 'Sarah Ballard'. Photo from vivaipriola.it
Grown in the sun or in partial shade, blooms in late August.
Astra New English (American)
New England Asters (Aster novae-angliae) Currently, about 50 varieties are bred. The species was introduced to Europe as early as 1710, but did not arouse such intense interest as New Belgian asters.
Astra New England and butterfly Admiral
The homeland of these asters is Quebec, South Carolina, Kansas. They are ideal for informal landscaped gardens. In combination with cereals and other autumn-flowering perennials (especially with rudbeckia), these asters make wonderful compositions. It is also important that they are characterized by good frost resistance and grow up to the taiga zone.
Shrub Astra (Aster dumosus) - frost-resistant appearance with erect, pubescent stems up to 50 cm high. Homeland - North America. There is some confusion in the classification and the fact that the catalogs take place under the name dumosus hybrids is the result of the intersection of shrubby aster and New Belgian. The result was a wide variety of flower colors at the same plant height. In nurseries, these asters can be called both New Belgian, and shrubby, and dwarf New Belgian asters (Dwarf Novi-Belgii Asters).
Astra bocolor (Aster lateriflorus) - a wonderful autumn aster blooming in September. It grows to 120 cm. The flowers are very impressive: at the ends of strongly leafy shoots - in the form of a bunch of grapes. The color of the petals is white or pale purple, the middle at the beginning of flowering is yellow, and later - purple.
- 'Prince' - one of the most famous cultivars. It grows to 120 cm, blooms in September with pastel purple flowers.
Astra is bicolor. Photo from vivaipriola.it
It will adequately cope with the role of a tapeworm, but it will not be lost in a group landing, it will be out of place in mixborders.
Heather Astra (Aster ericoides) in culture since 1732, its homeland is the southern regions of North America. It grows in a branched bush with a height of 80 to 105 cm. It blooms from September to October, forming numerous small inflorescences 1 cm in diameter. The plant is light-loving, frost-resistant. It should be planted on fertile soils, not thickening. Looks great in group landings with solidago, lyatris, stonecrops.
Heather Astra 'Schneetanne'
There are also such types of perennial asters of autumn flowering time, as the aster spread wide (Aster divaricatus), hearty (Aster cordifolius), Tatar (Aster tataricus), but they are found in nurseries much less often.
Given the variety of varieties and hybrids, as well as winter hardiness, unpretentiousness and ease of cultivation, perennial asters can occupy a worthy position in our gardens. Do you already have such asters in your garden?
Most varieties in this group are representatives shrubbery asters(Symphyotrichum dumosum). Their height is up to half a meter. Bloom since the end of summer for more than a month. In the species form, the color of the reed flowers is light purple, in varieties the color palette is wider. And they vary in height.
The most undersized do not exceed 20–40 cm. The most popular varieties: Starlight(with wine-red flowers), Apollo (with white), Blue Lagoon (with deep blue) Jenny(with raspberry red) and Professor Anton Kippenberg (with bluish-lilac). The last variety is the highest among representatives of this species - up to 40-60 cm.
The second view among miniature perennial asters is alpine aster(Aster alpinus). It forms a compact rosette, peduncles with single flowers rise up to 30 cm. The colors of different varieties are white, blue, lilac, purple, pink. The plant is not very durable, so it is periodically renewed with seeds or young rosettes are separated and rooted.
Astra New Belgian(Symphyotrichum novi-belgii) - the plant is quite large, its height is 60-140 cm. It grows rapidly, begins to bloom in September. From rain and wind, shoots can fall apart, so the bushes must be tied to stakes.
Astra New Belgian
Among the interesting varieties: lavender blue Brigitte60–80 cm high, ruby red Royal Ruby (80-100 cm), white White Ladys (80-100 cm).
These varieties are representatives New England Asters(Symphyotrichum novae-angliae). They are capable of waving up to 160 cm and more. The New England aster grows weakly, adult slender bushes can sometimes not be grasped - they reach 80 cm across. The shoots are strong, which means that no support is needed. Bloom in the middle lane in September and October, to the south they can please you in November, if it does not catch frost.
Astra New English
Among the varieties are especially spectacular Bars Pink (carmine pink) and Constance(dark purple). Their height is 140–160 cm. No less beautiful Gluard de Kronstadt (lilac-violet) - it is slightly lower, 130 cm.
How to prepare the ground for planting perennial asters
If the soil is fertile - just dig it to a depth of 30 cm (bayonet shovel) and select the rhizomes of weeds.
If the soil is poor, you need to add compost to it: 3 buckets per 1 m 2. In dense clay - sand: 3 buckets per 1 m 2. If there is sand on the site, you need to add peat or loam: 3 buckets per 1 m 2.
If the soil is fertile loam, it is enough to dig it to a depth of 30 cm before planting perennial asters. Add compost to poor soil, sand to thick clay - sour lime.
On medium and heavy soils, perennial asters are rarely watered in summer, often on sands.
The landing site should be sunny and not damp. In partial shade, perennial asters are able to survive, but they probably will not have time to bloom, but powdery mildew with fusarium can be picked up, as well as in a too wet area. These same misfortunes happen if you fertilize them with fresh manure. It is better to periodically mulch humus.
What long-term asters in a flower garden are combined with
With the help of tall perennial asters, you can beat the background of the flower garden, create something like a hedge along the track or along the contour of the site with the help of mono-planting of one variety. A volumetric group against the background of a lawn or fence looks more interesting if you collect varieties of different colors, not necessarily the same height, into it.
Asters of different species look very beautiful in the flower garden, for example, with small and large flowers
Shrub Astra is an excellent material for a flower border. The most undersized varieties are appropriate in rockeries and rock gardens, they are good in the foreground of the flower garden.
A beautiful composition can be created only from asters, annuals and perennials. Say, the long-range plan is to provide New England aster in pink and lilac, and closer to the viewer to plant one-year-old asters in the same color schemes or slightly dilute it with bright raspberry, purple, white, soft lemon. But remember that annual asters here next year can no longer be planted. You can replace them with petunia, decorative cabbage, cochia or flowering perennials.
Types and varieties of asters
Alpine Astra (Aster alpinus) - a magnificent view, blooming in late May – early June. It grows in our country in Siberia, the Urals, the Far East. As a rule, it has a blue or lilac color with a yellow center. Flowers are most often single, up to 3 cm in diameter. It forms dense bushes with a height of 20-30 cm. This species of asters can be used for planting on alpine hills, like border plants, as well as in flower beds in the foreground. In my collection there are varieties of these asters, which, of course, are more interesting than the original species. For example, “Superbus” (“Superbus”) is a beautiful blue daisy for cutting and gardening, flower diameter is 7 cm, height 45 cm, or “Gigantic Star” (“Gigantic Star”) is an even larger cut aster, height 60 cm. Varieties for alpine slides and casing are much lower (height 20 cm): “Blue Star” (“Blue Star”) - lilac-blue, “White Star” (“White Star”) - white, “Happy End” (“Happy End” ”) - pink. Recently, breeders have managed to obtain magnificent terry anemone varieties, such as: lilac blue “Sabine” (“Sabina”), blue “Aster x Blue”, white “Aster x White”, pink “Aster x Pink”. These asters, with all their beauty, have quite a long (up to 3 weeks) flowering.
Astra Anderson (A. andersonii) - miniature with small lavender flowers. It blooms from late May to late June. It can be used for planting in rock gardens or as a groundcover. Rarely found in collections.
Astra Italian (A. amellus) grows in the European part of Russia and Western Siberia. Reaches 60 cm in height. Reed flowers are lilac-blue. Baskets are gathered in loose guards. It blooms from mid-July. This is a very interesting, decorative and abundantly flowering species. The most beautiful varieties: lilac-blue “King George” (“King George”), a variety with bright pink inflorescences “Rosea” (“Rosea”), a magnificent hybrid of Italian aster and Thomson’s aster “Moench” (“Monch”) with sky blue flowers.
Aclear-leaved (A. sedifolius) originally from southern Europe. Plant height 100-120 cm. Reed flowers - lilac-blue, collected in panicled inflorescences. It blooms from the second half of July. I grow a dwarf variety “Nanus” (“Nanus”) with a height of 35 cm. This rare collection variety forms very nice spherical bushes, dense and compact. Needle-shaped narrow leaves adorn the plant.
Shrub Astra (A. dumosus) - Another one of my darlings with dense low spherical bushes. Very beautiful even before flowering. Comes from North America. The plant reaches a height of about 30–40 cm, reed flowers - light purple. Baskets with a diameter of 3 cm are collected in loose guards. It blooms from mid-September. The following varieties grow splendidly on my plot: “Kristina” (“Christina”) with white flowers, “Diana” (“Diana”) - with pink flowers, “Blue Lagun” (“Blue Lagoon”) - with blue flowers, and also one of the most beautiful “Lady Hindlip” - “raspberry-purple semi-double pillow-shaped. My last acquisitions were the Purple Diamond varieties with purple flowers, the Rubin with semi-double ruby flowers, the magnificent Lazurit with dark purple flowers and the Aqua Compact ”(“ Aqua Compact ”) with pale blue flowers. In addition to excellent flowering, they all have a supercompact and perfect spherical shape of the bushes.
Astra New Belgian (A. novi-belgii) - The most common group of asters in our gardens comes from North America. It forms large bushes with strong stems 60–130 cm high. They are affectionately called “septembery,” since the main flowering of this species occurs in September. The diameter of the flowers in different varieties varies from 2 to 5 cm. It blooms from mid-August to the end of October. I most liked the following varieties: “Sunset” (“Sunset”) - pink-lilac, spherical bush 100 cm tall, blooms very plentifully, “Fellowship” (“Fellowship”) - light pink, “White Ladies” (“White Ladies” ”) - early white terry, height - 130 cm,“ Mary Ballard ”(“ Marie Bayard ”) - half-double blue, height - 120 cm,“ Ada Ballard ”(“ Ada Bayard ”) - very large lavender-blue half-terry, height - 120 cm, “Sara Ballard” (“Sarah Bayard”) - semi-terry large bright lilac, “Patricia Ballard” (“Patricia Bayard”) - lilac-pink semi-terry beauty. It should be noted that all varieties of the Ballard series are unusually good. Highly recommend!
Of the red and purplish-red varieties, the most beautiful are Winston Churchill (Winston Churchill) and Crimson Brocade (Crimson Brockade), height - 90 cm, Royal Velvet (Royal Velvet) - terry purple - blue, one of the best in its gamut in this group of asters, height - 120 cm, “Pink Star” (“Pink Star”) - light pink, forms a beautiful cloud of small pink flowers, height - 100 cm, a great variety for arrangements.
Astra New English (A. novae-angliae) originally from North America. The bushes are very strong, strong, 150-180 cm high, do not require garter. Baskets with a diameter of 3-5 cm, in some varieties - up to 8 cm, are collected in large paniculate inflorescences. The stems are slightly branched. It blooms from early September to persistent frost. This species is very popular in culture, it is represented by magnificent varieties: “Harrington Pink” (“Harrington Pink”) - pink semi-double, large, magnificent in the garden and in a bouquet, blooms profusely at the junction of autumn and winter, height - 150 cm, “Andenken an Alma Poetschke ”(“ Andenken an Alma Pecchke ”) - unusually bright, luminous red-salmon - very rare, one-of-a-kind coloration in perennial asters, height - 150 cm. In the evening, the flowers of these two varieties close and bloom again in the morning, meeting the rising sun.
It is very rare to find in the gardens a variety with white flowers - “Herbstschnee” (“Herbstshnee”). Always admire its unsurpassed purity. Next to it, varieties with dark purple flowers look great. In the foreground, the undersized (40–50 cm) “Purple Dom” (“Happy Dome”) is good. Of the tall, up to 150–170 cm, I would like to mention “Constance” (“Constance”) and “Marina Wolkonsky” (“Marina Volkonski”). Unfortunately, while they are rarely seen in the gardens near Moscow. The indisputable advantage of New England asters is that they are practically not affected by powdery mildew diseases. This type of asters can grow much longer in the same place longer than others, without requiring rejuvenation and transplantation.
I can not ignore such an interesting species as flax leaf aster (A. linosiris) Some botanists attribute it to an independent species - ordinary linosiris. Grows in England, Sweden, can be found in the Crimea and the Caucasus. This plant is up to 50 cm tall with remarkably small spherical terry flowers collected in inflorescences. Narrow needle-shaped leaves are interesting. Prefers moist fertile soil. It has been growing in my garden for more than 10 years.
Landing and care
How to plant perennial asters and take care of them?
Planting asters of any of the above types is best in sunny areas with good ventilation. In the shade, they bloom poorly or do not bloom at all, and are still very susceptible to powdery mildew. Damp, flooded areas are not at all suitable for planting asters. My many years of experience in growing these plants has shown that they develop best on light sandy loamy soils, and well-treated loams are also suitable. The disadvantage of sandy loam soils is the need for regular watering. But there is an advantage - plants are much less sick.
Before planting, it is necessary to introduce well-rotted organic matter in an amount of up to 10 kg per 1 sq. M. m, as well as 30 g of complex mineral fertilizers of the type “Fertika spring-summer”.
Asters of spring and summer bloom are clearly better planted in autumn, but asters of autumn bloom can be in autumn and spring. I did not notice much difference in spring and autumn planting. In both cases, asters develop and bloom remarkably in the first year.
Of the diseases on asters, powdery mildew is most often found. But she appears only in adverse conditions. The damp, unventilated places and lack of sunlight are to blame. Sick plants should be treated with copper-containing preparations and transplanted under appropriate conditions. I did not observe any diseases or pests on my plants. Create asters all the necessary conditions, and they will thank you with an unprecedentedly generous flowering.
For the propagation of asters, rare and valuable varieties are cut. In spring, cuttings are cut or broken out with a heel and rooted in a cold greenhouse. Rooting lasts approximately 3 weeks. Plants that have grown and have begun to grow can be planted in a permanent place in the garden. It is advisable to pinch the tops of the shoots, then the bushes will turn out more fluffy. The main method for propagating asters is, of course, dividing the bush. To do this, in the spring or autumn, the bush is dug up and divided using a knife into small divisions. Also, fast-growing varieties can be propagated without digging. With a sharp shovel, one or several parts of the bush are separated, which are then also divided into small divisions. After this, it is necessary to add fresh fertile soil to the mother bush. The vast majority of perennial asters grows very much, so they must be divided once every 3-4 years, otherwise the flowering of plants is significantly weakened.
Autumn asters rarely manage to propagate seeds, since they almost never ripen. And there is no particular need for this, unless you are engaged in breeding. But spring and summer are easy. Seeds are collected after their maturation, dried and stored until sowing in a dry place. Seeds of asters do not need cold stratification. You can sow in March on the windowsill. Shoots appear after 2-3 weeks, depending on the species. The grown seedlings are dived into separate cups, and with the onset of warm spring days, they are planted on prepared beds. Young asters from seeds bloom, usually next year. Of course, varietal qualities are almost not preserved, but it is possible to get your own new variety. It is always interesting.
All plants are beautiful if they have worthy partners who can advantageously emphasize each other's merits. Asters such partners are stonecrops, heleniums, of course, chrysanthemums, and necessarily cereals. High and medium-sized varieties are combined with scaffolds, black cohosh and decorative shrubs. Everywhere the yellow color of goldenrod is appropriate. Strongly growing species, such as umbrella aster, are best placed separately from other perennials. It will look advantageous against the background of large shrubs and conifers. Almost all types of asters can be used in bouquets; they are cut long enough.
Asters are good, all as one, you can’t say anything here! And what is surprising, even when the first snow falls, they continue to bloom, as if telling us that winter is not terrible and spring is just around the corner!
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