Flower Friday – New England Aster
How to use New England Aster in Your Garden in St. John’s, Newfoundland
New England Aster, known botanically as Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, is a stunning native wildflower that can bring a burst of color and life to your garden in St. John’s, Newfoundland. These resilient perennials not only add aesthetic appeal but also provide numerous ecological benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the various advantages of having New England Asters in your garden and provide you with comprehensive guidance on how to care for them effectively.
Imagine your garden adorned with brilliant, purple-pink New England Asters swaying gracefully in the breeze. These native beauties not only enhance the visual appeal of your outdoor space but also contribute to the local ecosystem. In this article, we’ll delve into the numerous advantages of introducing New England Asters to your garden in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and provide you with step-by-step guidance on their care.
New England Aster: A Brief Overview
Before we dive into the benefits, let’s get to know this perennial better. New England Asters are native to North America and are known for their vibrant, daisy-like flowers with striking hues of pink, purple, and blue. They typically bloom in late summer and fall, making them a valuable addition to your garden when other plants are winding down.
Advantages of Growing New England Aster
One of the standout advantages of cultivating New England Asters is their ability to attract a myriad of pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds can’t resist the nectar-rich blossoms of Asters. By planting these flowers, you’re supporting essential pollinators crucial for the reproduction of many plants.
Supporting Local Wildlife
These vibrant blooms also provide habitat and food for local wildlife. The seeds of New England Asters are a valuable food source for birds, especially in the colder months when other food options are scarce. By fostering a diverse ecosystem in your garden, you’re contributing to the well-being of local fauna.
New England Asters have deep roots that help improve soil structure. Their root system enhances soil aeration and drainage, making it easier for other plants to thrive in your garden. This natural soil improvement can save you from the hassle of excessive soil amendments.
Of course, the primary reason most gardeners choose New England Asters is their sheer beauty. These flowers add vibrant splashes of color to your landscape, creating a visually stunning and dynamic environment.
Selecting the Right Location
To maximize the benefits of New England Asters, choose a sunny location in your garden. Asters thrive in full sun or light shade. Ensure the chosen spot receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day for robust growth and prolific flowering.
Preparing the Soil
New England Asters prefer well-draining soil. Amend your garden bed with organic matter like compost to improve soil structure and fertility. This step is vital for establishing a healthy growing environment for your Asters.
Planting New England Aster
Planting from Seeds
If you’re starting from seeds, sow them in late winter or early spring indoors. Once the danger of frost has passed, transplant the seedlings into your prepared garden bed. Space them about 18-24 inches apart to allow ample room for growth.
Transplanting Established Plants
If you’re working with established plants, ensure they are well-watered and gently transplant them into your prepared garden bed following the same spacing guidelines.
Watering and Mulching
New England Asters appreciate consistent moisture, especially during their first growing season. Water them deeply to encourage strong root development. Applying a layer of organic mulch around the plants helps retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Asters are not heavy feeders, but a balanced, slow-release fertilizer applied in the spring can boost their growth and flowering. Avoid over-fertilization, as it can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of blooms.
Pruning and Deadheading
Regular deadheading—removing spent flowers—extends the blooming period of New England Asters. In late fall or early spring, cut the plants back to about 6 inches to encourage fresh growth and prevent self-seeding.
Pest and Disease Management
New England Asters are relatively pest and disease-resistant. However, keep an eye out for aphids or powdery mildew, which can occasionally affect them. A strong blast of water or neem oil can help manage these issues.
Dividing and Propagating
Every few years, divide mature New England Asters to maintain their vigor. Dig up the clump, divide it into sections, and replant them in your garden or share them with fellow gardeners.
In Newfoundland’s harsh winters, a layer of mulch can help protect the roots of your Asters. Consider leaving some seedheads intact to provide food for birds during the cold season.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
To ensure your New England Asters thrive, avoid common mistakes like overwatering, overcrowding, and neglecting to prune. By steering clear of these pitfalls, you’ll enjoy a garden filled with vibrant blooms year after year.
New England Asters offer a multitude of benefits, from attracting pollinators and supporting local wildlife to enhancing your garden’s beauty and improving soil quality. By following our comprehensive care guide, you can enjoy these advantages while cultivating a vibrant and sustainable garden in St. John’s, Newfoundland. So, go ahead and plant some New England Asters – your garden will thank you for it.
Please note that the information provided in this article is based on general guidelines. Specific care and conditions may vary for different varieties and individual gardens.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, New England Asters are hardy perennials that can withstand St. John’s winters. Proper mulching and winter preparation are essential for their survival.
In most cases, New England Asters do not require staking, as their sturdy stems can support the blossoms. However, exceptionally tall varieties might benefit from gentle support.
Water your Asters consistently, ensuring the soil stays evenly moist but not waterlogged. Adjust watering frequency based on weather conditions.
To manage aphids, spray a strong stream of water on the affected plants or use neem oil. Regularly inspect your Asters for early signs of infestation.
While they are typically grown in garden beds, New England Asters can thrive in large containers filled with well-draining soil. Ensure the pots receive adequate sunlight.
Remember, gardening is not only about nurturing plants but also about embracing the joy and wonder that nature brings. Happy gardening!