Common names: aster, Monte Casino, rainbow aster, spray aster.
Description: Asters are dainty, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers distributed over airy sprays. They come in a rainbow of colors including white, pink, hot pink, lavender, red, purple and white. Vase life ranges from five to 14 days.
Asters are perennial plants named for their star-shaped blooms. There are over 175 species of asters found in North America, most of which bloom from late summer to early fall. They are popular in the garden and are often used as cut flowers.
Aster is Latin for star, referring to its star shape. The English also called the aster a starwort. Wort is Latin for root and the name symbolizes its healing properties.
More than 600 species of aster are grown around the world. Monte Casino, also called the Michaelmas daisy, is the most popular variety; it is easy to grow and forms masses of white blooms among tiny, bushy leaves.
Asters bloom in the fall, from mid-August through September. Temperatures that are higher than normal can delay flowering.
Space plants properly to promote growth and good air circulation. Plants should also be watered sufficiently and pinched back to regulate height.
Asters grow best when sown directly from seed, as opposed to transplanting seedlings. They grow tall, so trim frequently to keep them looking their best.
The French would place asters on the graves of soldiers to symbolize the wish that things had turned out differently.