New England Asters (Symphyotrichum novaeangliae) can be found throughout Maine and other New England states, but they are not exclusive to New England. These hardy wildflowers also grow across much of the continental United States. Blooming in late summer or early fall, they continue to bloom until a hard frost in late fall.
New England Asters blanket roadsides, ditches and other open areas, creating vibrant color after many of the native flowers have faded. Color ranges from purple-blue to lavender and pink. They are often found in clusters and may have several variations of color within the cluster as the plants self-seed readily and frequently grow close together. They may reach heights of six feet, but most are three to four feet high.
Legend of New England Asters
According to Greek legend, the aster originated from the tears of the goddess Astraea. When the Greek god Jupiter decided to flood the earth to stop men from warring, Astraea was so distraught she asked to be turned into a star. But, her lofty position as a star did not spare her despair. When the flood waters receded, Astraea was overcome with sorrow for the loss of lives and began to cry. Her tears magically transformed to stardust and fell to the earth. The lovely aster flower sprung forth where her tears dampened the earth.
New England Asters Are a Valuable Food Source for Pollinators
These flowers are valuable to pollinators as they provide nectar for bees and flying insects in the fall when there is little available from other flowers. A cluster of New England Asters is typically abuzz with activity from bees, butterflies and other flying insects.
While you can purchase cultivated New England Asters from seed companies and nurseries, you can also dig up wild asters for your garden bed or to plant along fences or the edges of your property. If you choose to dig up asters, make sure you ask the property owner for permission.
I'll be honest with you. I've seen plenty of ads for hydroponic systems that claim your pants will grow 5 times faster than they do in soil, but I really didn't believe it. My daughter gave me an Aerogarden for my birthday and although I can't say for certain the plants grow 5 times faster in the hydroponic unit compared to soil, I can tell you that I am impressed with their growth.
For my first attempt, I decided to start two Early Girl tomatoes, two Takii's Ace pepper plants and two strawberry plants. As you can see above, the tomatoes and peppers are doing great. The strawberries were slow to germinate and only one has survived.
I can literally see growth every day. I intend to pot the tomato and pepper seedlings as soon as they outgrow the Aerogarden. In fact, the tomato plants are crowding out the peppers and strawberry already and will need to be moved soon.
I'm not sure, yet, what I will start next. I'm thinking of trying some flowers for the flowerbed this summer, but then herbs would be nice, too.
If you are limited on growing space or would like to grow flowers or herbs all year long, an Aerogarden or other hydroponic unit may be right for you. You can find them at your local home improvement or gardening center.
Thanks for stopping by. Until next time . . . Happy Gardening!
It has only been three days since my last photos, but the plants are growing so quickly I felt I had to document it. The biggest tomato plant is getting so big that it is beginning to block the light for my other plants. I am considering potting it in soil and taking a cutting from it to start another plant or two in the Aerogarden.
I intended to pot the tomato plants for the garden this summer anyway, but I had no idea they would outgrow the Aerogarden this quickly.
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