Content Detail

New England aster is a native, upright perennial with purple or pinkish daisy-like flowers that bloom in late summer and autumn. This butterfly-attracting plant looks excellent in combination with late season ornamental grasses, goldenrod, and other asters. 

  • Family (English) Aster
  • Family (botanic) Asteraceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Wet sites
  • Season of interest late summer, early fall, mid fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink, Purple
  • Shape or form Irregular, Round
  • Growth rate Fast

Size and form:

New England aster are typically 3 to 6 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide, although the size varies.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to North America and common in prairies, moist meadows, thickets and along stream banks. C-Value: 4

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

This native perennial is a caterpillar and larval host to the pearl crescent and silvery checkerspot butterflies and an excellent nectar source for many butterflies.

Leaf description:

New England aster has simple, alternate, stiff, lance-shaped leaves up to 4 inches long with clasping stems.

Flower description:

The purple or pink daisy-like flowers are about 1 1/2 inches across with numerous ray flowers and yellow centers. They can be used as cut flowers although they close up at night. 

Fruit description:

Fruit is not ornamentally important.

Plant care:

Plant in full sun and moist, rich, well-drained soils. Pinch stems early in season to encourage a bushier and shorter habit, otherwise tall plants may need staking. Good air circulation around this perennial reduces foliar problems.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

There are minor foliage diseases such as powdery mildew and rust. This native can tolerate temporarily wet soil and is salt and drought tolerant, along with being deer and rabbit resistant.

Alma Potschke New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Alma Potschke’):

This cultivar grows 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide. It has light green leaves and produces magenta pink flowers.

Barr’s Pink New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Barr’s Pink’):

It grows three to 4 feet high and produces large, 2 1/2 inch diameter lilac-pink flowers with gold centers in early to mid-fall.

Harrington’s Pink New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Harrington’s Pink’):

This cultivar will get 4 to 6 feet high and 2 feet wide. In late summer, it has clear pink flowers.

Purple Dome New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’):

It grows 18 to 24 inches high and wide. Blooms are deep purple, semi-double flowers with yellow centers.

September Ruby New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae ‘September Ruby’ syn. ‘Septemberrubin’):

This cultivar will be 3 to 4 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide and produces ruby-rose flowers with yellow center.

Related Species and their differences

Aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium syn. Aster oblongifolius):

This is a bushy, compact, low-growing perennial with hair stems. It has stiff, toothless, oblong, blue-green leaves up to 2 inches long and produces numerous, small, violet-blue flowers with yellow centers.

October Skies Aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘October Skies’):

A 12 to 18 inch high and wide perennial that is more bushy than the true species. It has small daisy-like blue-purple flowers with yellow centers.

Raydon’s Favorite Aromatic aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’):

This perennial grows 2 to 3 feet high and 18 inches wide and produces masses of lavender-blue flowers.


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