About Silky Aster: Because of its large flowers and attractive silvery foliage, this hardy, low growing aster has become a popular choice for rock gardens and prairie plantings. The Silky Aster distinguishes itself from other varieties of aster by its unusual leaves, which have a fine growth of white hairs; its Latin name “sericeus” means silky, referring to this feature. This plant has become uncommon in the wild, being listed as rare or threatened in several states. 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.
Silky 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 12-15” apart. This plant prefers full sun and medium to dry soil, and also grows well in sandy or rocky soil.
Growing Silky Aster Seeds: These plants tolerate drought, though they grow best with regular watering. This plant grows rather slowly. As the plant grows taller, it tends to become top heavy and may need support or staking. The lower leaves have a tendency to wither in dry weather. 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 Silky Aster: Asters make lovely cut flowers. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened.
Saving Silky 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 Silky Aster Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Western Silver Aster Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Fall Height:12-15 inches Spacing: 12-15 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Dry USDA Zone: 4b-9a Seeds Per Oz: 41,500 Produces a plant with pale green, elongated, fuzzy leaves and 1” lavender, daisy-like flowers.