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When you think of pretty autumn plants, mums automatically come to mind. But there’s another fall-blooming perennial that your garden needs. Asters, a hardy plant that comes in shades of blue, lavender, pink, and purple, start blooming around the same time as mums when everything else in the garden is looking a little tired and shaggy. “They’re a beautiful alternative or companion to mums,” says Jan Boonstra Pavlinak, horticulturalists and help desk expert with Bluestone Perennials. “They’re pretty easygoing flowers, pollinators love them, and their colors are complementary to many other fall-blooming plants.”
Here’s how to grow these eye-catching but lesser-known fall flowers:
What kinds of asters should you plant?
Asters can be planted in USDA Hardiness Zones 3 to 8. They come in a variety of heights, ranging from 12 inches to 4 feet, so they work either in the back or front of borders depending on size. They may be tall and stately, or some varieties have a more mounded shape. Asters need full sun, which is at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. With too much shade, they get leggy and floppy. Asters usually bloom for weeks from early to late fall.
Varieties to try:
- Bluebird (beautiful blue tall variety)
- October Skies (very late bloomer)
- Alma Potschke (bright, red-pink fringed flowers)
Where can I buy aster?
Many nurseries sell them in the fall, though your choice of varieties may be limited. If you want to plant asters in spring, online retailers have a wider selection. Spring planting also ensures they’ll get established in the ground in time to survive the winter, though they’re not too fussy and will often return next year even if you don’t plant them until early fall.