Asters: planting and care in the open ground, growing from seeds, varieties
The aster plant (Aster) is represented by grassy annuals and perennials, and it belongs to the family Asteraceae, or Asters. According to information taken from various sources, this genus unites 200-500 species, while most of them are found in nature in Central and North America. The plant got into Europe in the 17th century, it was secretly imported from China by a French monk. The name aster from Latin is translated as “star”. There is a Chinese legend about this flower, which says that 2 monks decided to reach the stars, they climbed higher and higher to the highest mountain of Altai, after many days they were at the top, but the stars still remained far and inaccessible. Exhausted by a heavy road without food and water, they returned to the foot of the mountain, and a beautiful meadow with wonderful flowers opened their gaze. Then one of the monks exclaimed: “Look! We were looking for stars in the sky, and they live on the earth! ” Having dug up several bushes, the monks brought them to the monastery and began to grow them, and it was they who gave them the stellar name "asters". Since that time, such flowers in China began to be considered a symbol of elegance, charm, beauty and modesty. Astra is a flower of those born under the sign of Virgo, a symbol of the dream of the unknown, a guiding star, a talisman, God's gift to man ...
Short description of growing
- Sowing. In open soil, seeds are sown in early spring (in March) or before winter, and for seedlings - from mid to late March. Seedlings are planted in the garden in April or May.
- Bloom. In the summer and autumn.
- Illumination. Well lit or shaded area.
- Priming. Nutritious loamy soil cultivated to a depth of about 20 centimeters.
- Watering. Moderate. On hot days, watering should be more rare, but more plentiful.
- Fertilizer. It is necessary to feed the aster three times throughout the season: 7 days after the appearance of seedlings, during the formation of buds and when flowering begins.
- Breeding. Annual species and varieties are propagated only by seed, while perennials are usually vegetative, namely, cuttings and division of the bush.
- Harmful insects. Drooling pennies, spider mites, leaf and gall nematodes.
- Diseases. Powdery mildew, annular spotting, gray rot of flowers, verticillous wilting and viral jaundice.
Astra is a rhizome plant with simple leaf blades. Inflorescence baskets are part of corymbose or paniculate inflorescences. Baskets consist of regional reed flowers of various colors, as well as central tubular flowers, which are very small and most often have a yellow color. In European countries, they began to grow aster in the 17th century, and thanks to the tireless work of breeders, a lot of incredibly beautiful varieties were born, while among them there are plants with flowers of various shapes and colors. As a rule, a seed method is used to propagate such a plant. Depending on the height of the shoots and on the quality of the baskets, such flowers are used for group plantings, borders, rockeries, rabatok or as decoration for terraces and balconies. Spectacular bouquets are obtained from asters, and in the cut flowers can stand for a long time.
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Growing asters from seeds
When to sow seeds in open ground
The most popular among gardeners is seed reproduction. Asters can be grown both in seedlings and seedlings. Sowing in the open ground of early varieties is carried out at the beginning of the spring period, or rather, in the first half of March, then the bushes will begin to bloom in July.Middle and late varieties are sown in the ground in the last days of April or in the first days of May, but at the same time, the air temperature should not fall below 10 degrees. However, remember that flowers that were not grown through seedlings begin to bloom a little later, compared with greenhouse bushes.
Sow seeds in not very deep grooves (depth about 40 mm), after which they are well shed. And then the grooves are covered with earth, and when the weather is dry, the surface of the plot is sprinkled with a layer of mulch, or instead the crops can be covered with covering material, which is removed immediately after the appearance of seedlings. After that, cover crops only with the threat of frost. Thinning seedlings is carried out during the formation of the plants of the second or third real leaf plate, while the distance between the seedlings must be kept from 10 to 15 centimeters. Excess plantlets can be transplanted to another site.
After sowing, early varieties begin to bloom after 90 days, mid-early - after 110 days (in the first days of August), later - after 120-130 days (in the last days of August or in the first half of September). In this regard, choosing a particular variety, you can calculate when it will bloom. Flowering of late varieties can continue until the first severe frosts.
Sowing seeds in open soil can be carried out both in spring time and in late autumn. In this case, they are sown in frozen soil in the grooves made in advance. Winter sowing is good because the plants grown the next year are very resistant to Fusarium. After the seedlings appear in the springtime, they should be thinned. When choosing seed, it must be taken into account that the high germination of aster seeds persists for the first two years, and then it decreases by about half.
Sowing seeds for seedlings
Most experienced gardeners prefer to grow aster through seedlings, since this method is more reliable. Sowing time for seedlings depends on the variety and varies from the first days of April to May. When 7 days remain before sowing, the seed must be wrapped in a piece of tissue, after which it is placed in a pinkish solution of potassium permanganate. After 10-12 hours, the fabric is squeezed so that water does not flow from it, after which it is placed in a polyethylene bag and removed for germination in a place where it is always warm.
For sowing seeds, a pot or a drawer is suitable. The substrate should be taken nutritious and light, before sowing, it is mandatory to spill a solution of the fungicidal preparation. In the soil mix, make furrows, and then evenly distribute the seeds in them, which should already be bent. Furrows are covered with a half-centimeter layer of sand, then the crops are watered with a pinkish solution of potassium permanganate, using a small sieve. Then the container is covered with glass (film) from above and put away in a warm place (from 20 to 22 degrees). In the event that the seed is fresh (harvested last season), then seedlings may appear after only 3-5 days. As soon as this happens, the crops should be removed in a cool place (about 16 degrees). When the plants form 3 or 4 real leaf plates, they need to be cut out according to the 4x4 centimeter scheme. During a dive, it is necessary to carry out a mandatory shortening of the roots of the aster. For transplantation, a substrate is used, combined with a small amount of wood ash. Planted plants need moderate watering.
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When 7 days after the dive, asters will need to be fed with a solution of complex fertilizer. Then the bushes are systematically fed once a week with the same fertilizer until planting in the garden. When the seedlings grow and get stronger, it must be started to harden, for this it is transferred to the street every day, while the duration of such procedures must be increased gradually.If everything is done correctly, then when the time comes to plant asters in the garden, they will have a powerful stem with 6-8 large green leafy plates. Experts advise transplanting seedlings in open soil in April or May. Such a plant is resistant to frost, and it is able to withstand a drop in temperature at night to 3-4 degrees. Landing is recommended in the evening.
Before proceeding to the transplanting of seedlings, it is necessary to choose the most suitable site. It should be sunny and well-drained. The best predecessors of this culture are calendula and tagetes. These flowers grow very well on nutritious light soil of a neutral reaction. The site for the aster must be prepared in advance. To do this, in the fall, carry out its deep digging with the simultaneous introduction of compost or humus (per 1 square meter of the site from 2 to 4 kilograms). In spring, the site is again dug up, while 15–20 grams of potassium salt, 20–40 grams of superphosphate and 15–20 grams of ammonium sulfate are added to the soil per 1 square meter. If on the plot the soil is saturated with nutrients, then it is not necessary to fertilize it.
Before planting, seedlings are weeding the site, leveling its surface and loosening to a depth of 40 to 60 mm. It is also recommended to moisten the soil, especially if the aster seedlings are purchased and you do not know how long the root system of the bushes has been open. Make not very deep grooves and pour them with water, and then asters are planted in them, observing a distance between the bushes of at least 20 centimeters, while the distance depends on the variety of asters. The row spacing should be approximately 50 centimeters. Furrows are covered with dry soil, while the flowers planted do not need watering for 2-4 days from the time of planting. After 7-15 days, the flowers will need to be fertilized with nitrogen-containing fertilizers.
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Garden aster care
Astra is an unpretentious plant, so growing it in your garden is quite simple. The most important thing to remember is to timely loosen the surface of the soil, while removing all weed grass. It is necessary to loosen the surface of the soil near the bushes every time watering is carried out or rain passes, while the depth of cultivation should not exceed 40-60 mm. Even before the bushes begin to branch, they should be bumped to a height of 60 to 80 mm, in which case their root system will develop much faster.
Astra refers to those plants that react extremely negatively to both drying out the soil and stagnant fluid in it. During a long dry and hot period, watering should become rarer, but plentiful (about 1 liter of water per 1 square meter of land), after this procedure, it is necessary to loosen the soil surface. If the soil dries, then because of this, the inflorescences may become less effective.
In order for the bushes to be powerful and as decorative as possible, they will need systematic top dressing. During one season, such flowers must be fed at least three times:
- first feeding - 7-15 days after transplanting into the garden, for this, 10 grams of potassium sulfate, 20 grams of ammonium nitrate and 50 grams of superphosphate are added per 1 square meter of the plot;
- second - at the beginning of budding, for this, 50 grams of superphosphate and the same amount of potassium sulfate are added to the soil per 1 square meter;
- the third - as soon as flowering begins, the same fertilizers are used for this as for the second top dressing.
Do not forget to remove the inflorescences that began to fade in time.
As a rule, inexperienced gardeners may have problems with growing asters in their garden plot. For instance:
- After sowing, the seedlings did not appear or they appear, but they grow very slowly and dry. In this case, experts advise reseeding, while strictly observing all agrotechnical rules. Particular attention should be paid to the composition of the substrate, and also to the pre-sowing preparation of seed material.
- Annuals are affected by Fusarium. Remember that for planting such flowers, plots on which representatives of the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, potatoes) or such flower crops as carnations, tulips, gladioli and levkoys were previously grown are not suitable. These sites can be used for growing asters only after at least 5 years, since the likelihood that they will be affected by fusarium increases. For the same reasons, fresh manure is not used to feed the bushes.
- The formed inflorescences are incomplete. This can happen due to the fact that spider mites or aphids have settled on the bushes, they feel a lack of nutrients or due to non-compliance with the agrotechnical rules of the culture.
Most often, such a culture affects Fusarium. The causative agent of this disease are Fusarium mushrooms. Symptoms of the lesion appear in an adult bush, so it abruptly begins to wither, and only on one side, after which its yellowing begins to turn brown and wilt. To date, experts have not found an effective method of combating Fusarium infection, in connection with this it is extremely important to observe preventive measures, namely, to follow the rules of crop rotation and cultivation on the site. In one area, an aster should be planted alternately with other crops, and it will be possible to plant it again on it no earlier than 5 years later. All affected bushes immediately after their discovery dig and destroy, this will help prevent the spread of the disease.
Another fungal disease called the "black leg" can affect asters. As a rule, the bushes are affected by it in the seedling period, the diseased plant grows dark, and its root neck and the base of the stem begin to rot. The development of the causative agent of such a disease is observed on acidic soils. All affected bushes must be torn out and destroyed, the soil mixture is shed with potassium permanganate solution (1%), and the surface of the substrate around the seedlings is sprinkled with a layer of sand.
Such flowers can also be affected by rust, and blisters are formed on the seamy surface of the leaf blades, which contain spores. The foliage on the affected bushes begins to wither and withers. The area where asters grow should be located as far as possible from conifers, since most often it is from them that rust spores fall on the bushes. For preventive purposes, treat the plants with a solution of Bordeaux mixture (1%), and diseased bushes should be treated with the same tool 1 time in 7 days.
This plant can also affect a viral disease called jaundice asters. It is caused by a virus carried by a circadian or aphid. At the very beginning, the color of the leaves becomes lighter, and then general chlorosis of the leaf blades occurs, the bush begins to grow more slowly. Buds also develop poorly, which, moreover, are painted in a pale green color. In order to prevent damage to the bushes by the disease, it is necessary to combat its carriers, for this the bushes are treated with a solution of an insecticidal preparation, for example: Pirimor, Actellik or Pyrethrum. At the same time, sick bushes are dug up and destroyed.
Bushes affected by verticillosis or powdery mildew are recommended to be treated with Fundazole.
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Asters can be harmed by insects such as meadow bugs, drooling pennies, plow slugs, common earwigs, spider mites, bud aphids and dustpan. In order to protect such flowers, you need to adhere to a number of preventive measures:
- in autumn it is necessary to conduct a deep digging of the site;
- the site is cleaned of the remains of annual plants and stems of perennials that die off by autumn, and it is recommended that they be destroyed;
- choose the right varieties of flower crops for your garden site;
- if necessary, improve the soil by applying compost and humus or by liming;
- keep the recommended distance between the bushes, otherwise they will be elongated and weakened.
If you still notice harmful insects on the flowers, then get ready to deal with them either by chemical means or folk methods. To destroy the plowed slug, you can use the metaldehyde or collect it by hand, and then destroy it. Fundazol treatment will help in the fight against an ordinary earwig. To get rid of scoops, meadow bugs, slobbery pennies and spider mites, you need to use a solution of Phosphamide, Karbofos or Pyrethrum.
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Care after flowering
When the flowering of annual (garden) asters ends, it is recommended that the bushes be removed from the soil and destroyed, since pathogenic microorganisms or pests could have settled on them. After the first frost you can sow the seeds of asters you can sow in open soil, but for this you should choose another site. Sowing seeds is carried out in previously prepared grooves, which are then covered with humus or peat. Some gardeners conduct winter sowing in December or January immediately in the snow. To get started, take the snow on the selected site and make grooves in it, in which the seeds are sown, do not forget to fill them with peat on top. Plus, sowing seeds in the snow is that they will not be able to harm the thaw. In spring, when the snow cover is gone, it is recommended to cover the area from above with a film, which contributes to the faster appearance of seedlings.
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In order to collect the seed, you need to wait until the inflorescence withers on the bush of the variety that you really liked. You can cut it off after its middle darkens and a white fluff forms in it. Cut the inflorescence should be put in a bag of paper, where it can rest. Do not forget to write on the bag the grade and date of collection.
Please note that seeds collected last season are distinguished by the best germination. And that seed that has been stored for 2 years or longer dramatically loses its germination capacity.
In the same area, perennial asters can be grown for 5 years. As a rule, it is recommended in the autumn time to dig up, divide into parts and plant bushes of asters, which have reached the age of 5 years, in a new place. During transplantation, try not to injure the root system of the plant.
Such perennials are highly resistant to frost, and therefore they can winter easily in open soil. However, in some varieties, young bushes for the winter is still better to cover with flying leaves, peat or spruce branches. Before you cover the site, you must cut off all the dried stems of asters. With the onset of springtime, shelter is removed from the site, as a result of which the bushes will move faster and bloom earlier.
Types and varieties of asters with photos and names
Relative of asters
Not every gardener will be able to understand the aster in front of him or not. The fact is that there is a genus of asters, which is represented by perennial and annual species and varieties, and they were discussed above. And there is also the so-called garden aster, which inexperienced gardeners take an annual for aster, but this is just a close relative of this plant. Callistephus (Callistephus) will be more correctly called an annual aster - this is a monotypic genus of flowering plants, whose homeland is China, it belongs to the family Asteraceae, or Astra. Callistefus is represented by annuals and biennials, gardeners such a plant is called "garden aster", or "Chinese aster." Description of this unique species of the genus was given by Carl Linnaeus in 1825, and he named it Aster chinensis, A. Cassini later isolated it in a separate genus and gave it the name Callistephus chinensis, or the Chinese callistema.Simple or branched shoots are colored green, less often - dark red. The fibrous root system is well-branched and powerful enough. Regularly located leaf plates have petioles. Inflorescences are represented by baskets, and the fruit of such a flower is an achene. There are about 4 thousand varieties of such plants in the culture, all of them are divided into approximately 40 groups. Most often, such a plant is cultivated by gardeners and is taken for an annual aster.
Early flowering perennial asters
Perennial asters are divided by flowering dates into a couple of groups, namely: autumn-flowering and early-flowering. Early flowering asters are not very numerous, and only the following species are included in the composition of this group: alpine aster (Aster alpinus), Bessarabian aster (Aster bessarabicus) and Italian aster (Aster amellus).
Such perennials, blooming in May, can reach a height of 15-30 centimeters. In diameter, single baskets reach 50 mm, outwardly they are similar to simple daisies. Often they are used for rockeries. The best varieties:
- Glory - a bush in height reaches about 25 centimeters, the diameter of the inflorescence is up to 40 mm, a bluish-blue daisy with a bright yellow middle;
- Wargrave - the height of the bush is about 0.3 m, in May-June it is decorated with pink inflorescences with a yellow center, which in diameter reach 40 mm.
Italian Astra or Chamomile
Flowering is observed in June – July. The height of the plant is about 0.7 m, large inflorescences-scutes across reach up to 50 mm. Such flowers are suitable for rockeries and rocky gardens. The best varieties:
- Rosea - the color of the tubular flowers is brownish, and the reed ones are pink; flowering begins in June and lasts about 3 months;
- Rudolf goeth - across, large scutes reach 40–50 mm, the tubular flowers are yellow, and the reed ones are purple.
Astra Bessarabian, or False Italian
The height of the bush is about 0.75 m, it is decorated with a large number of lilac flowers with a pale brown center.
Autumn-flowering perennial asters
Perennial flowering asters are represented by shrub aster, New Belgian aster and New English aster.
Shrub aster (Aster dumosus)
These are the earliest of autumn-flowering asters. This plant comes from North America. The height of the bush can vary from 0.2 to 0.6 m. The shoots are very leafy, so even when the bushes do not bloom, they still look spectacular and very similar to boxwood bushes. The best varieties:
- Niobe and Alba Flora Captivity - color of inflorescences is white;
- Blue bird - the height of the dwarf plant is about 0.25 m, the inflorescences are pale blue, as in the taller Blue bouquet and Lady in Blue.
New Belgian aster (Aster novi-belgii), or Virgin aster
Such a plant is widespread in mid-latitude gardens. There are vigorous varieties with a height of about 1.4 m, as well as dwarf varieties — bushes no higher than 0.3–0.4 m. Powerful bushes adorn paniculate inflorescences. Flowers can be painted in white, blue and purple, as well as in various shades of burgundy and pink. The best varieties:
- Snowsprite - the height of the dwarf variety is about 0.35 m, the color of the inflorescences is white;
- Jenny - the height of the dwarf bush is about 0.3 m, it is decorated with red flowers;
- Audrey - also a dwarf variety with a height of about 0.45 m with pink inflorescences;
- Royal velvet - the height of the medium-sized bush is about 0.6 m, the color of the flowers is violet-blue;
- Winston S. churchill - medium-tall variety with a height of about 0.7-0.75 m, bright ruby flowers;
- Dusty Rose - the height of a vigorous bush is about 100 cm, light raspberry inflorescences in diameter reach about 40 mm;
- Desert blue - this strong-growing variety can also reach a height of about one meter, the diameter of the inflorescences is about 35 mm, and their color is bluish-lilac.
Astra New England (Aster novae-angliae), or North American
Such a plant is also very popular among mid-latitude gardeners. Unlike other perennials of the genus of asters in such a plant, the height of the shoots can reach 1.6 meters.Outwardly and in structure, such a plant is in all respects similar to New Belgian aster. Flowering is very magnificent, while the inflorescences are small. The best varieties:
- Browmann - the bush reaches a height of about 1.2 m in height, the diameter of the inflorescences of a racemose form is about 40 mm, the color of reed flowers is purple, lush flowering begins in September;
- Constance - frost-resistant plants have a height of up to 1.8 m, branched shoots are very powerful, inflorescences in diameter reach 35 mm, the color of the reed flowers is purple, and the tubular ones are yellow or brown, flowering is observed in September;
- Septemberberine - the height of the bush is about 150 cm, up to 35 mm across the inflorescences, the color of the reed flowers is pinkish-red.
Chinese astra, or garden aster, or callisthephus is an annual, which is a close relative of the perennial aster. Today, there are more than 4 thousand varieties of such a plant. It happens that such annuals are no longer more like asters, but chrysanthemums, dahlias, peonies and other flowering plants. Many scientists have tried to create a classification that would include all the variety of varieties. However, no one could create a perfect classification. A brief description of the most famous classifications will be given below.
All varieties are divided by flowering time into:
- early - flowering begins in July;
- medium - the beginning of flowering occurs in the first days of August;
- late - flowering begins in the second half of August.
5 groups of varieties are divided by the height of the stems:
- dwarf - not higher than 0.25 m;
- undersized - the height of the bush does not exceed 0.35 m;
- srednerosly - about 0.6 m;
- vigorous - the plant reaches a height of up to 0.8 m;
- giant - bushes above 0.8 m.
Still, all varieties are divided into 3 groups according to the purpose of cultivation:
- casing - not very tall compact bushes, they can be grown like potted plants or decorate flower beds with them;
- cut-off - vigorous bushes adorn large inflorescences on long peduncles;
- universal - medium-sized compact bushes have large inflorescences and long peduncles.
There are 3 groups of asters in the structure of inflorescences:
- tubular - only tubular flowers are part of the inflorescence;
- transitional - inflorescences have 1 or 2 rows consisting of reed flowers, while tubular flowers are collected in the middle;
- reed - inflorescences consist either only of reed flowers, or they completely overlap tubular.
According to the principle of the structure of inflorescences, the reed group is divided into several types. Non-terry simple:
- Edelweiss, Pinocchio, Waldersee - these varieties have very small inflorescences;
- Salome - the inflorescence has an average size;
- Rainboy, Margarita - inflorescences are large;
- Madeleine, Sonenstein - inflorescences of such varieties are very large.
- Ariake, Tikuma - inflorescences are very small;
- Aurora, Prinette, Laplata - the average size of inflorescences;
- Princess, Anemone aster, Ramona - large inflorescences;
- russia, princess giant, fantasy - inflorescences of very large size.
- Victoria, Matsumoto - small inflorescences adorn the bushes;
- Mignon, Rosett - the average size of inflorescences.
- Comet, Tiger pawz - medium inflorescences;
- Ostrich feather, Queen of the market - such varieties have large inflorescences;
- Chrysanthemum aster, California gigantic.
Spherical or spherical:
- Milady, Lido, Triumph - the average size of inflorescences;
- American beauty, Germany, pion-shaped aster - inflorescences are large;
- Spherical - inflorescences are very large.
- Voronezh, Victoria, Thousandshen - medium-sized inflorescences.
- Record, Exotica - medium-sized inflorescences;
- Riviera, Star - the size of the inflorescences is large;
- Compliment, Riesen, Yubileinaya - very large inflorescences.
- Miss, Amor, Pink - the average size of inflorescences;
- pompon - large inflorescences.
Despite the fact that flowers can be painted in a wide variety of color shades, classification by this attribute does not exist. They are painted in a variety of shades of blue, in lilac, pink, white, purple, cream or pink. There are also varieties of two-tone color. However, to date there are no varieties with orange and green flowers.
As mentioned above, so far there is not a single classification that would be perfect all the more if we take into account that every year a large number of different new varieties are born.
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