New England Aster

A close-up of a bunch of flowers.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Asters thrive with the Chelsea Chop as it encourages shorter, sturdier stems and fuller plants. Left to grow on their own, New England asters can reach 60 to 150 centimetres tall; chopping them in May or June will keep them shorter and bushier.

New England asters prefer moist soils but are also drought tolerant so will grow in a range of locations. You will often see them growing naturally in meadows or old fields.

Plant in sun or part shade, in sand, loam or clay. These plants can also handle urban conditions like compaction and salt, making them suitable for growing near driveways, roads, or sidewalks.

From late August to October, these long-blooming plants produce multiple purple flowers with yellow to orange centers. They’re great landing pads for late season bees and butterflies, making them a favourite for many beneficial pollinators. 

As summer progresses, lower leaves may dry and turn brown, so Chelsea Chopping plants in front can hide the dry leaves of the plants behind, or plant something shorter, such as little bluestem grass or lance-leaved coreopsis, in front. For more colour and biodiversity, pair with sneezeweed, stiff or gray goldenrod, black-eyed Susan and dense blazing-star. 

Plant in a grouping and use the Chelsea Chop to either keep all plants short, or to stagger bloom times by chopping the plants in front to create a shorter tier that will bloom later, but one that will also support the taller plants behind, should they decide to try to lie down.

Alternatively, if you have a sunny, dry space, plant calico, purple-stemmed, or heath asters. If you have shade, try heart-leaved aster or large-leaf aster. To find out more about these and other asters have a look at our Prairie Meadow Plant List

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