Asters are a great plant for providing autumn colour their rather grand full horticultural title is Aster dumosus Aster novi-belgii and their common instantly recognisable name is Michaelmas Daisy owing to their star daisy like flowers. Aster is a genus of the Asteraceae family which has over 100 different species. The name Aster originates from the Greek word meaning star.

They have become more and more popular owing to the fact they are easy to grow and maintain and will spread steadily over the years providing colour in beds and borders when others species are fading away. Planting in swathes will provide a spectacular show with both the very pretty colours of blue, purple and pink and the foliage making an eye catching and dramatic display. Asters or Michaelmas Daisies will grow in any well drained soil in sun or partial shade. They make an excellent cut flower for vases indoors but do not plant in too much shade or they will be too tall and leggy making them unsuitable for floral arrangements.

The varieties differ in height making filling a border an easier task as staggering the planting  to achieve the cottage garden effect means all the flowers will be seen to their best advantage such as  Aster Alice Haslam producing masses of deep rosy-pink flowers with yellow centres is low growing making a height of 25cm whereby the Apollo variety with its white star shaped flowers will grow to 40cm. Lady in Blue has stunning powder blue flowers around the 30cm high and Marjorie is lower growing with pale pink yellow centred blooms.

Their bright vivid colours with their rich nectar are why they are so attractive to bees and butterflies which although they are ideal for planting in pots and containers, for colour on patios if bees are a problem then putting in pots away from seating areas is best.