Uses of the Aster Plant
Aster flowers grow all over the United States in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3 through 8. Asters grow in full to partial sunlight, in light, well-draining soil. The flowers bloom in summer and fall in shades of white, purple, red and pink. Flowers in the aster plant family have many uses, both inside and outside the garden.
Aster flowers resemble daisies growing on stems that range from 8 inches to 8 feet tall. Many aster varieties exist, and the aster plant family includes many daisylike and asterlike flowering plants. Choose a site for asters that provides rich, well-drained soil. Asters are very low-maintenance flowers. Plant seeds in spring and divide asters in fall to keep them from overspreading in garden environments.
Asters grow in a variety of colors and make attractive garden plants no matter where they're planted. But asters also have another unique feature that brings something extra to outdoor environments: butterflies. The rich nectar in the flowers attracts the flying insects, which are essential in the pollination of many flowering plants. Gardeners may plant asters for the express purpose of drawing more butterflies to their outdoor areas.
Medicine and Lore
Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), which are members of the aster plant family, were used by Native Americans for external wounds such as sores and swelling. Boneset (Tamaulipa) has a deceptive name: It's actually used to reduce fevers and inflammation. Eastern purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is also used to treat skin problems and inflammation. Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) may also be used to reduce fevers and will aid digestion when it is taken internally. Aster was used in ancient times to ward off serpents. Lore says that when September flowers from the aster were burned, it would keep snakes away.
In the garden, aster flowers have multiple uses. The flowers may be planted in a bed that shows off multiple blossom colors to create a bright, eye-catching display. Asters may also be used as borders or even as a vivid, colorful ground cover. Asters are often used in landscaping to decorate large, open areas.