This branching perennial has a compact structure of crossing, slender stems with small, dark green leaves which may become coppery-purple in autumn. In autumn masses of small, daisy-like flowers appear which have slim white bracts and darker pink centres (which are the actual flowers).
What to use it for
A great choice for late summer/autumn colour in beds and borders. A good choice for a wildlife garden as both birds and butterflies enjoy the nectar from Aster flowers.
How to look after it
Benefits from being divided; if you wish to keep the plant as vigorous as possible you can do this annually.
How to prune it
You can deadhead through the flowering season if you wish, to keep the plant looking tidy. In autumn, once the flowers have faded, cut the whole plant down to ground level.
In late May you can carry out the ‘Chelsea chop’, pruning back your aster to promote a greater number of flowers, later flowering and a more compact plant.
How to propagate it
Asters should be divided regularly to keep them vigorous, and this will also provide additional plants for free. Divide the crowns with a spade or two forks back to back in spring; you can separate them into single shoots to be replanted separately. They should flower in the same year.
Other useful information
The name ‘Aster’ derives from the Latin for ’star’.
One legend explaining why it received this name (other than because of the star like shape of the flowers) is that the plant arose when the Greek goddess of justice, innocence and purity, Astraea, looked at the earth and cried because she couldn’t see any stars. The aster flower then grew out of the soil where her tears fell.