About Prairie Aster: Prairie Aster grows throughout most of the western United States, especially thriving in the desert areas of the southwest. In addition to its high tolerance of drought, this plant attracts many butterflies and birds. 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.
Prairie 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 6-8 weeks. 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 dry soil, and grows well in rocky or sandy soil.
Growing Prairie Aster Seeds: These plants tolerate drought well, though young plants may need watering. As the plant grows taller, it tends to become top heavy and may need support or staking. The lower leaves may wither in dry weather. Keep weeds under control, since this plant does not like competition. This plant often reseeds itself. 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 Prairie Aster: Asters make lovely cut flowers. Cut the stems long, choosing flowers that have just opened.
Saving Prairie 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 Prairie Aster Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Tanseyleaf Tanseyaster, Takhoka-Daisy, Tanseyleaf Aster, Tanseyleaf Goldenweed Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Fall Height: 12-18 inches Spacing: 12-15 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Dry USDA Zone: 3-9 Seeds Per Oz: 25,000 Produces a plant with delicate fern-like foliage and 2” lavender, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers.