Asters are a native fall-blooming perennial that come in varied heights, colors and forms. Most work well as cut flowers.

New England asters and New York asters, the two main groups of native asters, have recently had their botanical names changed to Symphyotrichum to distinguish them from the Old World flowers that retained the botanical name aster.

The species aster grows about 3 feet tall, has a white or pale blue daisy-shaped flower that is only about half an inch wide and looks like a weed. It does help pollinators and should be allowed to grow in garden edges, but you won’t want it to be a garden centerpiece.

The cultivars will brighten up the fall garden, however. Some of my favorites are “Alma Potschke,” which is pink; “Purple Dome”; “Vibrant Dome” and “September Ruby.”

Many people who buy asters now treat them like annuals, but if you water regularly and put them in a partial- to full-sun location they should survive the winter. Planted in the spring, they will be true perennials, and will be sturdier and less leggy if you cut them back sometime in June.

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