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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Asters

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Beautifuclcataya (Flickr / creative commons)
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You know fall is coming when the wild asters start to bloom. This native perennial flower is hardy, tough, and long blooming. It's also known as the Michaelmas daisy as it blooms into the end of September during the Feast of Saint Michael. But there's more to this wildflower than what we see in meadows. In the garden paired with goldenrods, sedum and rudbeckia, it's an amazingly easy perennial to grow for beautiful fall color.

It all starts with varieties. There are two main types of asters available; the New York aster and New England aster. New England aster stands 3 to 4 feet tall with thick, hairy leaves. New York asters grow a bit shorter with smooth leaves and are more susceptible to wilt diseases. There's also the aromatic aster that has late blooming, large blue flowers and leaves with a pleasant aroma when brushed. The wood aster features small white flowers and bloom in shade. Mixing and matching different aster varieties is a sure way to extend the flower show.

Most asters grow best in full sun on well-drained soils. To get more flowers, pinch the growth points of your asters in July so it bushes out. To get more aster plants, in spring every 3 to 4 years, divide plants and move them around your garden. Deadhead to keep them flowering and to reduce self sowing of baby plants.

Asters may get a few diseases. Select modern varieties that are powdery mildew and rust resistant. Insects, such as lace bugs, may cause the foliage to look unsightly but these pests rarely harm the plant long term.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.

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