October Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Asters

Aster 'Raydon's Favorite' in October
If you see me when I come home from pretty much anywhere this time of year, you'll find me unloading at least one mum. I bring one home almost every time I go to the store. But where do they end up? Well, I do plant them of course. But they just don't last very long in my garden here in Georgia. Our summers are very hot and dry. This year, the drought has extended into Fall. This is the driest Fall I can remember. We haven't had any rain at all in over 2 months.

Unlike Chrysanthemums, Asters, will live on for years, in spite of the drought we usually suffer here in Georgia. There are many Fall blooming Aster varieties to choose from, and I intend to add them all to my garden! There are asters for full sun and asters that will bloom well in shade.

Symphyotricum oblongifolium 'Raydon's Favorite' is covered with lavender daisy-like blooms every Fall in September and October. The aromatic foliage reminds me of mint and deer do not like it.

Butterflies and other pollinators love all varieties of aster. In mid-Fall, most other flowers have finished blooming, but the Fall asters are just getting started. Most aster plants are just covered in flowers this time of year. Asters make excellent cut flowers, lasting a long time in a Fall floral arrangement.

Our native asters are much easier to grow than chrysanthemums. Once established they are quite drought tolerant, thriving on sunny hillsides even in the midst of a drought. Asters tolerate just about any soil--dry, clay, or sandy.

This native plant can be grown anywhere in the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 3-8. Most asters like full sun, but there are asters that bloom even in shade.

This year The Garden Club of America named Aster oblongifolius 'Raydon's Favorite' as the 2016 Plant of the year, so it definitely deserves to be in your garden.

The only negative I can think of with Raydon's Favorite is that it will grow quite tall and flop over if it isn't pruned early in the summer. I am bad about forgetting to prune.

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