About Swamp Aster: Swamp Asters can be found from the north of Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas, having one of the largest growing areas of any aster. It most often grows in wetland or marshy ground. Originally from the Greek language, “aster” means “star.” At one time, asters were called starworts, frost flowers, or Michaelmas daisies; in spite of their daisy-like petals, asters are actually diminutive members of the sunflower family. In the language of flowers, these starry blossoms symbolize elegance or daintiness. They make a traditional gift for birthdays in the month of September, or for 20th wedding anniversaries.
Swamp Aster Germination: Direct sow the seed in late fall, planting it just under the surface and watering it once. If direct sown in the spring, the seed must be stratified first by mixing it with moist sand and stored in the refrigerator for 60 days. To start the stratified seed indoors, sow it in a flat; keep the soil evenly moist and at a temperature of 65-70 degrees F until germination, which should take place within 14-20 days. Transplant the seedlings after the last frost of spring, placing them 24-36” apart. This plant prefers full sun and rich, moist or wet soil, and also tolerates partial shade.
Growing Swamp Aster Seeds: This plant does not tolerate drought, and may need watering to keep the soil moist. The lower foliage may become ragged or brown in dry conditions. Keep weeds under control, since this plant does not like competition. Mature plants will benefit from division after two or three years of growth. Cut the stalks down to the ground at the end of the growing season for easier growth in the spring. The flowers attract numerous bees and butterflies, providing a valuable source of nectar in late fall.
Harvesting Swamp Aster: Asters make lovely cut flowers. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened.
Saving Swamp Aster Seeds: After flowering, the plant will produce seed heads containing small clusters of seed with white fluff. Since sparrows and goldfinches love to eat the seed, harvest it promptly to avoid loss. Cut the mature seed heads, or shake them into a container to remove the seed material. Clean the seed as well as possible, then store it in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Swamp Aster Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Purple-stemmed Aster, Glossy-leaf Aster Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Fall Height: 48-60 inches Spacing: 24-36 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Wet to Medium USDA Zone: 2-8 Seeds Per Oz: 78,000 Produces a plant with green or reddish purple stems, 5-6” narrow, pointed leaves, and loose clusters of 1” lavender daisy-like flowers.