Aster Novae Angliae

The Aster Novae Angliae Belongs In Your Garden

The Aster novae angliae, especially the Purple Dome variety, belongs in every garden. Novae angliae means "from New England”, the native region of this plant. Purple Dome refers to its general appearance when growing as a clump, appearing very much like a dome of purple flowers with yellow centers. While considered a garden plant, Aster novae angliae grows as a wildflower in a number of northeastern and north central states.

The Aster novae angliae also goes by the names New England Aster and Michaelmas Daisy. Novae angliae is a perennial which is hardy in USDA Zones 3 through 9. It typically grows to a height of between 18 inches and 2 feet. It is not unusual however for the plant to grow taller, and staking may be necessary to prevent the stems and flower heads from drooping. Like most garden flowers it is at its best when grown in full sun, but will also do well in partial shade or light shade, but not in deep shade. It tends to bloom rather late in the summer and is attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds that are still around in the late summer and fall. Like most members of the aster family, the plant is frost tolerant, and is also is a fine source of long-lasting cut flowers. On the negative side, the plant, especially when young, seems to be a favorite of rabbits. About the only other negative comment to be found about the Aster novae angliae is that the base of the flowers can become quite unattractive due to the accumulation of dead foliage and placing the plant behind lower growing plants sometimes helps in this regard.

Propagation - Aster novae angliae may be started from seed, or by dividing the root ball of an established plant. It can also be propagated through root or stem cuttings. For the home gardener, propagation through root ball division is probably the easiest approach unless a large number of new plants are desired.  If the plant is to start from seeds, they are best sown outdoors in late fall, or in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse in the winter or very early spring. Seeds can be removed from dry seed heads and if cleaned of debris, easily stored. Dividing a root ball may be the best approach if you want a clump of flowers next season. The plant spreads though sowing its own seeds, but also spreads by expanding its root ball If you don't want new plants growing everywhere in the garden come next spring, its always a good idea to deadhead spent flowers, saving only those you may wish for seeds.  Though not terribly fussy regarding soil type, a fertile, slightly to strongly acidic soil is best. Watering need is average, but be careful not to over water.

Consider Some Companion Grasses Or Flowers - Aster novae angliae is a generally pest and disease free plant, or at least resistant to such potential problems as mildew. While a clump of Purple Dome asters is attractive in itself, the plant is often at its best when planted among certain companion plants, with various ornamental grasses being high on the list. There are a number of late flowering perennials which also make fine companion plants. This particular cultivar, Purple Dome, can be spectacular in a medium to large sized container, either alone or with a suitable companion plant or two. The rather symmetric outline of the flowering clumps makes it a perfect plant for containers although, because of the unattractiveness of the lower stems as the flower matures and begins to bloom, a lower growing companion plant may be a desirable addition.