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|Asters are popular garden plants because of their showy flower heads and the availability of flowers in multiple colors.|
Asters are beautiful perennials that are found wild in North America and southern Europe. The genus Aster includes some 600 species of widely distributed flowering plants in the family Asteraceae.
Asters are also called as Starworts, Michaelmas Daisies, or Frost Flowers. Asters are found chiefly in North America, with some species extending into South America; others are distributed throughout Europe and Asia. The word Aster is of Greek derivation and refers to the Starlike flowers that can be white, red, pink, purple, lavender and blue, mostly with yellow centers.
The genus Aster is now generally restricted to the old world species, with Aster amellus being the type species of the genus (and of the family Asteraceae). The new world species have now been reclassified in the genera Almutaster, Canadanthus, Doellingeria, Eucephalus, Eurybia, Ionactis, Oligoneuron, Oreostemma, Sericocarpus and Symphyotrichum, but still the new world species are also widely referred to as Asters in the horticultural trade.
Asters are actually 1 - 1.5 - inch flowers. Asters are very complicated flowers. An Aster flower is actually a collection of very tiny tubular flowers, grouped together in a central disk, and surrounded by so-called ray flowers or petals, eg., Sunflower. The central disk of flowers on the Asters is surrounded by the ring of ray flowers. In many cases the disk flowers are a different color than the petals so that the entire flower head looks like a single flower with a central disk surrounded by differently colored petals. The ray flowers on the Asters are never yellow. The tubular flowers of the Asters are bisexual, having both a pistil and stamens; the ray flowers are usually sterile.
Some popular varieties of Asters are: Lindley's Aster (Aster ciliolatus), New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae), Many-Flowered Aster (Aster ericoides), Western Silvery Aster (Aster sericeus), Willow Aster (Aster hesperius), Flat-Topped White Aster (Aster umbellatus), Smooth Aster (Aster laevis).
Asters may be propagated by dividing or grown from seed sown indoors at about 70 degrees F or may be sown directly into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Germination takes anywhere from 15 to 30 days, depending on the temperature.