Best smelling plant for your garden is ‘Aster’

aster

When I first planted aromatic aster, I sniffed it on a regular basis. Not because it smelled good, but because it didn’t smell at all. I just couldn’t believe my aromatic aster lacked aroma. The plant won me over, though, with its lovely, dainty habit and tiny blue-purple blossoms. Other points in its favor: It’s drought tolerant and needs little care, and it blooms in late summer and early fall, like other asters. As it turns out, it wasn’t the plant that was deficient; it was my education. The leaves, not the flowers, are aromatic. Crush or rub them for a somewhat minty fragrance.

Common name: Aromatic aster, fragrant aster

Botanical name: Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (syn. Aster oblongifolius and A. oblongifolium)

Plant type: Perennial

Zones: 3 to 8

Height: 1 to 3 feet

Family: Asteraceae

Growing conditions

• Sun: Full sun

• Soil: Prefers well-drained soil but tolerates poor soil.

• Moisture: Medium to dry 

Care

• Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture in the soil.

• Pruning: None needed.

• Fertiliser: None needed.

Propagation

• By seed

Pests and diseases

• Vulnerable to powdery mildew, grey mould, white smut, and aster yellows.

• Common pests include slugs, snails, and aphids.

Garden notes

S. oblongifolium attracts birds and butterflies.

• Though aromatic aster is not a tall plant, the weight of blooms may pull taller stems over unless they have a little support.

• Use aromatic aster in prairie settings or meadows, in large rock gardens, or in a mixed border.

• Plant it with ornamental grasses, sedum, black-eyed Susan, and other asters.

S. oblongifolium is not an aggressive plant, but it might reseed and spread slowly.

• Blue-purple blooms have yellow centres and are about 1 inch across. Leaves are small, narrow, toothless, and oblong.

Cultivars

S. oblongifolium ‘Dream of Beauty’ has pink flowers with orange centres. It grows about 1 foot tall and twice as wide.

• The blooms of S. oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ are blue-purple with yellow centres.

S. oblongifolium ‘October Skies’ has light lavender-blue flowers.

All in the family

• Most species in the genus Symphyotrichum (formerly Aster) are native to North America, although some are also found in Central and South America, Europe, Asia, and the West Indies.   

• Two of the most popular aster species are New England aster (S. novae-angliae) and New York aster (S. novi-belgii). Dozens of cultivars have been developed from these two species alone.

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