Plant of the Week: New England aster

Although New England is famous for its tree and shrub foliage, there are many other plants there that are just as impressive in autumn. One of these plants, aster, is featured prominently on the High Line in the Wildflower Field and Chelsea Grasslands. Many asters have small blooms that are white to pale blue or purple. Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, commonly called New England aster, is distinguished by its large, deep pink to purple, rather attractive flowers.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop
New England aster is large and showy, typically growing 3-6' tall with a stout, upright habit. The blooms are between 1.5"-2" across with dark purple rays and yellow centers. The name "symphyotrichum" is derived from the Greek "symphy" for "coming together" and "trich" meaning hair, which refers to anthers of the flowers. The stem ranges in color from red to burgundy, providing a striking contrast to the dark green leaves.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae is native to almost every area in North America east of the Rocky Mountains, except northern Canada and parts of southern United States. In fact, the specific epithet "novae-angliae" means of New England. It is an important fall source for pollinators including migrating Monarchs. This plant is also used among several Native American tribes to treat pain and fevers.


New England aster prefers moist, rich soils, but is easily grown in a broad range of conditions. Many aster species tend to flop, so they are best placed toward the middle to back of the garden bed where they can be supported by other vegetation. Pinching back the stems a few times before mid-July will provide bushier plants hopefully reducing the need for staking. USDA zone 4 to 8.


Symphyotrichum novae-angliae can be found in the Wildflower Field (Between West 27th and West 29th streets)

The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you.

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.

TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

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