Add hues of soft pink and rich lilac to your autumn garden with Michaelmas daisy (Aster novi-belgii). A tough perennial that shrugs off light frosts, this aster blooms from late summer into autumn.
As it brings welcome color to the fall garden, it also attracts butterflies such as the painted lady to your yard. Michaelmas daisy performs best in boggy, moist conditions, but will tolerate dryer soils. This native of the eastern United States and Canada is easy to grow and needs little maintenance except occasional deadheading.
Common name: Michaelmas daisy, New York aster
Botanical name: Aster novi-belgii
Plant type: Herbaceous perennial
Height: 4 feet
Zones: 4 to 8
Plant family: Asteraceae
- Sun: Full sun or part shade.
- Soil: Well-cultivated, fertile, moist soil is best, but will tolerate sand to clay soils.
- Moisture: Grows best with regular watering, but established plants with protection from afternoon sun tolerate some dryness.
- Mulch: Apply 1 to 2 inches of organic mulch around plants to preserve soil moisture and prevent weeds.
- Fertilizer: Apply balanced organic or slow-release plant food in spring. Excessive nitrogen will promote leggy, floppy growth and fewer flowers.
- Pruning: Cut back taller cultivars by half before July 1 to encourage greater flower production and bushier, more compact growth.
- ‘Farmington' (pictured) has lilac blooms from late summer through early fall. Its deep green foliage has unique, heavy texture. Introduced by Monrovia Growers for the spring 2006 planting season, it has a its mounding form, lots of flowers, and mildew resistance. Grows 18 inches tall. Zones 3 to 9.
- ‘Apple Blossom' has light pink flowers and grows 36 inches tall. Zones 4 to 8.
- ‘Kristina' has semi-double, white flowers. Grows 12 inches tall. Zones 4 to 8.
- ‘Lady in Blue' has light blue flowers. Grows 16 inches tall. Zones 4 to 8.
- Pair with chrysanthemums, Japanese anemones, and ornamental grasses.
- Plant in drifts for wonderful fall color.
- Divide plants every 2 to 3 years to maintain vigorous growth and prolific blooming.
Diseases and pests
- Aster yellows, verticillium wilt, powdery mildew, gray mold, leaf spot, and stem cankers may occur.
- Insect pests include aphids, mites, slugs and snails, nematodes, and rosy blister galls.
- Propagate species from seed in spring or fall.
- Divide cultivars in early spring or fall.
All in the family
- Aster is derived from Greek, referring to the star-like appearance of the flowers, and is part of a genus comprised of approximately 250 annuals, biennials, perennials, and woody subshrubs. Some favorite perennials from this family include coneflower (Echinacea spp.), Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium fistulosum), and sneezeweed (Helenium spp.).
Text by Mary Pestel, photo courtesy of Monrovia Growers, www.monrovia.com