From the Sperry Garden – October, 2007

I have been growing fall asters (Aster oblongifolius) in this same location for more than 20 years. When I bought my first three 1-gallon plants they were almost never sold in Texas nurseries. Now, this heirloom hero has become a common fall item.

One of the nice things about fall aster is its flower color. It’s a perfect counterpoint to the intense fall shades of reds, oranges and yellows. It’s virtually invisible during the spring and summer as its tiny leaves and thin stalks fade into the background of your other perennials.

Two tips on growing this aster. First, be sure this is the one that you get. No other asters are the least bit dependable in Texas. This one is as good as they are bad. Your local nurseryman will know what you want when you ask for “fall aster” and mention that it’s the one you see in old neighborhoods. Second, tip-prune your plants in May. By removing their growing tips then you’ll encourage the plants to stay shorter and more compact. That will be a good thing by the time they come into bloom in the fall.

Flowering date varies from year to year. Some seasons it’s in September. This is about the latest I’ve seen it flower in our garden. The blooms last for a couple of weeks at which point you can trim the plants back to the ground and get ready for another season.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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