New York Aster Facts, Care & Planting (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii)

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how to plant new york aster
New York aster (pictured) lacks the thick stems and textured leaves of its lookalike, New England aster.

New York aster is a flowering perennial that produces purple blooms with yellow centers. Once in the Aster genus, New York aster is now considered to be a part of the Symphotrichum genus, which it shares with other aster species. This plant’s unique Latin species name “novi-belgii” translates to “New Belgium,” which refers to New York when it was a Dutch colony. New York aster is also known as Michaelmas daisy because it tends to bloom around September 29th (Saint Michael’s Day). Many New York aster plants will bloom for up to six weeks.

Members of the Symphyotrichum genus are widespread, with the majority being native to North America. New York Aster is native to eastern North America, but has been introduced to other locations, including Europe. New York aster is at times confused with New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), which has thicker stems and more textured leaves.

Facts, Benefits & Uses of New York Aster

is new york aster good for pollinators
A western honey bee collecting pollen from a New York aster. Photo by hedera.baltica / CC BY-SA 2.0

Mature New York aster is resistant to deer and rabbits but is popular with pollinators. Bees, beetles, butterflies, and moths all visit this plant to benefit from its blooms. New York aster can serve as a host plant for several species, including the pearl crescent butterfly (Phyciodes tharos), silvery checkerspot butterfly (Chlosyne nyceteis), saddleback caterpillar moth (Acharia stimulea), cucullia (cucuillas spp.), and striped garden (Trichordestra legitima) caterpillars.

These species aren’t harmful and won’t hurt your plants, so growing New York aster is a great way to encourage pollinators to visit your garden. Thanks to this plant’s late blooming time, New York aster flowers can be extremely valuable for supporting pollinators later in the season. Additionally, bees have enhanced sensitivity to things in the blue portion of the UV spectrum, meaning that blue and purple flowers are like a beacon for them. If you’re looking to help out pollinators, New York aster is an excellent choice!

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New York Aster Fact Sheet:
Herbaceous Perennial
USDA 4 – 8
Full sun to partial shade
August – October (Fall)
Height 90-150cm (35-59in)
Barely cover seeds with soil, or bury roots to crown of plant
pH 5.8 – 6.5

New York Aster Growth, Hardiness & Climate

how fast does new york aster grow
New York aster grows 3-5 feet tall, making it ideal as a backdrop in gardens. Photo by Patrick Standish / CC BY-SA 2.0

New York asters are fast growing, reaching a maximum height of 3-5 feet. It is worth mentioning that the height of the mature plant may depend on the type of soil it is being grown in. In well-drained sandy soils, New York aster will grow taller than it will in richer, more moist soil. Although it is not considered to be especially aggressive, this plant will spread fairly easily through seeds and underground rhizomes.

Blooming typically occurs from August through October. Most commonly, New York aster blooms around September 29th (Saint Michael’s Day), earning it the alternate name of Michaelmas daisy. Many mature New York Aster plants will bloom for long periods of time—sometimes up to six weeks. Their unique purple flowers are a great option for brightening up a garden at the end of the blooming season for many plants.

How to Plant New York Aster Near Ponds

how to plant new york aster in gardens
When planting, New York aster should be buried up to its crown (where roots meet the stem) in moist, well-draining soil. Photo by Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0

If growing New York aster from seed, simply sow the seeds in spring just after the last frost in your area. Seeds should be barely covered with soil, and should have access to sunlight. Be sure to keep the soil moist once sprouting occurs.

If growing from an already established plant, simply bury the roots so that the crown of the plant rests just at the surface of the soil. New York aster can be planted at any time during the growing season, but avoid planting in severe hot or cold weather—instead, try to time planting so that the plant can have a few weeks to get established before experiencing extreme weather. New York aster does best in moist, well-drained soils, but will tolerate less ideal conditions.

How to Care For New York Aster

how to care for new york aster
New York aster can be separated into clumps and transplanted as needed. Photo by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0

New York aster prefers moist, well-drained soils. Too much water trapped in the soil will cause root rot, and too little will lead to wilting and fewer blooms. Be sure to keep plants well-watered to ensure your New York aster produces plenty of blooms in the fall.

If not growing in especially fertile soils, New York aster benefits from the addition of compost to promote flowering. This plant does not require pruning but, if desired, you can cut plants back in early Summer to keep them shorter and bushier. The easiest way to reduce the size of an overgrown New York aster is to dig it up and divide it. Divisions can be transplanted to propagate in new areas.

How to Winter New York Aster

New York aster is a hardy plant and survives winters in zones 4-8 without much trouble. One thing to keep in mind while planting is to be sure that your aster’s soil will continue to drain well throughout the winter.

Is New York Aster Toxic, Poisonous or Invasive?

New York Aster is not technically invasive in its native ranges of eastern North America, but it does spread somewhat easily. Like many invasive plants, New York aster was originally introduced to Europe as an ornamental plant because of its beautiful flowers. New York aster is now well-established in the United Kingdom and several other European regions, and is considered by several studies to be highly invasive outside its native areas.

New York aster is not toxic to pets or humans. In fact, some people eat parts of the New York aster plant. New York aster is not known to be toxic to fish.

Is New York Aster Edible? Will Fish Eat it?

New York aster flowers and leaves are edible to humans, most commonly being used fresh in salads, as tea, or as garnishes. Native American people traditionally harvested aster for a variety of medicinal uses. There is no evidence that pond fish will experience any problems if they consume New York aster.

Where to Buy New York Aster & Seeds? (UK & US)

New York aster seeds and mature plants are readily available in nurseries or online outlets that sell to the plant’s native ranges, as well as locations such as the UK where the plant has become widespread. Please proceed cautiously with this plant in areas where it is non-native, as New York aster grows and spreads easily! As always, please remember to try to purchase and grow plants for your pond or garden that are native to your area.

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