Wood's Pink AsterSymphyotrichum dumosum 'Wood's Pink' (= Aster dumosus)
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Symphyotrichum dumosum 'Wood's Pink' (= Aster dumosus)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
For fall flowers, few plants can top Wood’s Pink Aster, a gorgeous variety of New York aster, also called Michaelmas Daisy, or Rice Button Aster. An improved form of a native plant, it makes a rounded mound of pink daisy flowers from late summer all through the fall. No more than 18 inches tall, it is perfect for the front of beds, where it will sit unnoticed until its flowering suddenly brings it into prominence. Why have a flowerless fall, when you can grow this lovely plant, and the similar Wood’s Blue and Wood’s Purple for a fabulous display. Grows easily in most gardens, along a path, fronting a shrub or flower bed, or in meadows and natural gardens – it is a native plant. Also reliable in coastal gardens to brighten the beach cottage when you come to close up for the season.
Plant Wood’s Pink Aster in full sun for the most profuse flowering, but it will take a little shade too. Grows best in moist, well-drained soil, but tolerates both dryness and wet ground. Happy in all types of soils, and in both acid and alkaline ground. Ignored by deer and rabbits, and attractive to butterflies, and to birds for winter seeds. Cut back to the ground in late fall or early spring, but don’t cut any green leaves you might see. After a few years, divide and replant, or work a mix of soil and compost over the top to regenerate it.
With such beautiful fall foliage, it’s easy to forget about flowers in fall. That would be a mistake, because fall asters are a mine of great colors to compliment and contrast with colorful trees and shrubs. Perhaps you have a smaller garden, with no room for a maple or oak, and maybe just evergreens around you – or city streets. Then it is even more important to keep the color going as long as possible in your garden – which is where Wood’s Pink Aster steps up for the job. The flowers may be relatively small, but they make up for it in their incredible abundance, and their clear, bright coloring. At just 18 inches tall, it is also compact enough to tuck into the smallest space, or, in a larger garden, line a path or front a bed of perennials that will be coming to an end when it springs into blooms (falls into bloom?). A selection of a native plant – asters are very much ‘our’ flowers – this easy-care perennial stays quiet through spring and summer, and then steps into prominence in early fall, just when it is needed. If you aren’t growing asters, you are missing out, and if you aren’t growing Wood’s Pink Aster, this is your chance to catch up.
Wood’s Pink Aster is a perennial plant that grows to about 18 inches tall, forming a bushy clump of stems up to 2 feet across. The stems are covered in thin green leaves, larger and broader where they are closer to the ground, and small and narrow higher up. Each stem branches into many side stems, sprouting slowly in spring and then picking up speed through summer until you see tiny buds all over the network of thin branches. The flowers are about 1-inch across, a star-burst of many narrow petals with a yellow center. The color is a cool, light, lavender-pink that fits into any color scheme you might have going in your beds. Flowers last for weeks, starting as summer comes to an end, and continuing well into the fall season. It is amazing to see these fresh blossoms in your garden just as everything else is getting ready for bed.
No matter what you have in your garden, it’s a safe bet that once summer is over, almost all of your flowers are no more than memories. That’s why, if you want the longest garden season possible, and color during the lovely weather of Indian Summer, you need to grow Wood’s Pink Aster, and other plants like it. It’s a great companion for other late-bloomers, like Autumn Joy Sedum, or ornamental grasses, which are often at their best in early fall. Grow it among other perennials, or tuck it between flowering shrubs. Fill a narrow space along a fence or wall, or line a casual pathway through your garden. As a native plant it is perfect in wild-flower gardens and to brighten wild areas. You can also grow it in a pot, out of the way in your garden, and then stand it by the door or on a step, to show it off while in bloom.
Wood’s Pink Aster is hardy in all the coldest zones, thriving in zones 3 and 4. Yet it grows just as well in warm zones too, all the way into zone 8.
For best results and lots of blooms, plant Wood’s Pink Aster in full sun, or with no more than an hour or two of shade each day. Grow it in almost any soil that isn’t always wet, and although it is remarkably drought-resistant, it will give you the best results in a richer, generally moist soil. It can be sand or clay, and alkaline soils are fine too.
Pests and diseases, deer and rabbits – these problems all leave Wood’s Pink Aster alone. There are just three key things to do through the year to get the max out of Wood’s Pink Aster, although it will grow happily enough with almost no attention at all. Do the first one no later than the 4th of July – pinch off the tip of each stem once, twice, or even three times, starting in May and stopping once July arrives. This will give a much more branched plant, and although it isn’t essential, it significantly improves the blooming. The second job is easy – just cut the dead stems down either in late fall or early spring, to just an inch or so. Finally, once your plant has been growing for 2 or 3 seasons, work an inch of rich compost over the top in spring, around the surface stems and over the root-zone. This will encourage lots of new growth, and keep those flowers coming strong.
The bushy aster is a native wildflower growing in most of the eastern and central states, and it has also spread from gardens in other areas, and in Europe. Gardeners have always called it Aster dumosus, but in recent years botanists have renamed it as Symphyotrichum dumosum, a name few of us have caught up with yet. Wild plants have lilac-blue flowers, and grow in meadows and along the sunny edges of woodlands.
Ed Wood, who lived in Portland, Oregon, was mainly an enthusiastic and successful apple breeder, but he like to work on other plants too. He selected seedlings of this plant for flower size and color, creating several that were a big advance on the wild version, and better garden plants. He never got round to releasing them to nurseries and gardens, so Lynn Caton, who owns North Creek Nursery in Pennsylvania, did it after Ed had passed away. One he named ‘Wood’s Pink’, a great plant on its own, or grown with others like ‘Wood’s Blue’ or ‘Wood’s Purple’.
No garden is complete without fall asters, but many are tall and high-maintenance. Wood’s Pink Aster isn’t – it’s easy to grow and outstanding in any garden. Don’t pass up this chance to enjoy it – and other varieties Ed Wood created – but order now. Our stock is limited and demand is high.