New England aster (Aster novae-angliae)

Quick facts and care essentials

• Zones 1-24, 31-43
• Full sun, partial shade in hot-summer climates
• Regular watering

Asters are on many a gardener's list of favorite fall-blooming perennials. They're easy to grow and add color to the landscape when most other flowers are winding down for the year.

This aster is a stout-stemmed plant 3 to 5 feet tall with hairy leaves to 5 inches long. Pink to deep purple flowers are 2 inches across; two favorite varieties are dark pink 'Alma Potschke' and deep lilac 'Treasure'. Stake plants early in the season to keep stems from flopping over.

Compared to many other asters, New England aster is more tolerant of climatic extremes, taking high humidity and colder winter temperatures. It performs best in rich soil. It prefers regular water and will thrive even in wet soil; if it dries out too much between waterings, it's prone to mildew. Divide clumps every 1 to 3 years.