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December 5, 2018

Need a friend? You bet your Aster

By: Jeremy Kranowitz

I have heard several friends, colleague and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful project partners talking recently about their asters falling over.  Why the heck do they do that?  Well, like most of us, they need a friend to lean on.

New England Aster in bloom. photo: Jennifer Anderson, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is typically the finale of most gardener’s landscape—putting on a fantastic show of color in the fall after almost everything else has bloomed out.  They are a common go-to for fall color and a great late season nectar source for bees and other pollinators—but they always fall over! Heavy rain or wind can easily lay your asters over. Like most prairie plants, asters are adapted to growing tightly-packed in with grasses and other flowering prairie plants all around them.  As prairie grow more densely together, they also function as structural support for one another.  Prairie grasses like Little Bluestem and Switchgrass chiefly function as the support system for flowers that flop. 

Be a friend, co-plant your asters! photo:

If you are considering adding New England Aster to your garden’s plant palette, try placing it among other tall plants or grasses to prevent it from falling over. Everyone deserves a friend to lean on! 

Categories: Habitat Restoration