Purple Dome AsterSymphyotrichum novae-angliae (= Aster novae-angliae) ‘Purple Dome’
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Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (= Aster novae-angliae) ‘Purple Dome’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Purple Dome New England Aster is a valuable dwarf form of a perennial that is usually tall and that needs staking. It naturally grows into a dense mound of stiff, rough leaves, topped from late summer through fall with bright purple ‘daisy’ flowers with bold yellow centers, that makes a bright and long-lasting display. A fabulous and easy way to bring color into fall, it looks amazing among the red and gold leaves of your trees. A native plant attracting butterflies and bees, it can be grown among shrubs or flowers, along streams, edging woodlands, or in pots.
Full sun is best for the Purple Dome New England Aster, which will grow in any soil, from wet ground to dry, sandy areas. This tough native plant is hardy and reliable, growing patiently through summer and then doing its thing when fall arrives. Usually free of serious diseases and pests, it isn’t bothered by deer, and tolerates moderate drought as well as flooded soil. Pinch the tips of the stems in May and again in late June, to get the bushiest plant with the most blooms.
The New England aster is a classic garden plant, but it usually grows tall, and need room and staking. Not all gardens have room for them, and not everyone likes to do a lot of garden work. That doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the vibrant colors of these classic late-season flowers, though – just grow the Purple Dome Aster. Less than 2 feet tall, this colorful plant stays quietly green through summer, and then steps out just as other flowers are winding down. You will love the mound of richness it adds to your garden, and the striking deep purple looks amazing among the falling leaves of yellow and orange. It’s an exciting way to end the garden season, and an easy one too.
The Purple Dome Aster is an improved form of a native perennial plant, forming a rounded clump of stems rising around 20 inches into the air, and spreading about as wide. It has oblong green leaves that are hairy and have a rough texture. As the summer goes on it develops many branching stems, each one ending in a flower bud. Then, in late summer and all through much of the fall, these open into 2-inch flowers, each one a star of many flat petals, surrounding a central dome that begins yellow and turns beige as flowering continues. It blooms for weeks during September and October, and the flowers are a rich, royal-purple – a very striking and vibrant color at that time of year. Flowers tend to close a little during very wet weather, and open up again when the sun comes out.
The Purple Dome Aster is a fabulous addition to your garden. It grows quietly through the summer, and is hardly noticeable. Then, just as your other flowers have come to an end, it steps up and brings color back just when you need it most. Grow it among mixed perennial flowers, or in gaps in shrub beds. It is great along a path or besides steps, in rock gardens or on slopes. It’s a form of a native plant, so grow it in any semi-wild areas, or beside a woodland path. It is also great in a pot, where you can grow it out of the way in your garden, and then stand it by the front door, or up a flight of stairs, and enjoy its bold fall display.
The Purple Dome Aster thrives in cold zones, and is winter hardy in zones 3 and 4. Yet it also grows in warm zones, right through into zone 8.
Full sun is best for this plant, but an hour or two of shade each day won’t have much impact. Heavier shade will reduce blooming significantly. Grow it in richer, moist but well-drained soils for the very best results, but it’s tough and easy, and will grow well in most soils, including sands, clays and alkaline soil too.
Since it is compact, there is no need to stake the Purple Dome Aster. In May or June, and definitely before July 4th, nip off the tip of the stems once or twice, to make a more branching plant. This isn’t essential, but it does improve the flower display for a plant in a high-profile spot. Other than that, simply cut the stems to the ground once blooming of over. Older plants can be divided in spring, but it has a woody base, and is much more long-lived without dividing than most other asters.
Aster novae-angliae is native to North America, growing through eastern and central Canada, and as far south as North Carolina, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. It is usually found in moist areas along the edges of woods. Wild plants are 6 feet tall, with pink of purple flowers.
The renowned Dr Richard Lighty was the Director of Horticulture from 1983 to his retirement, at the Mt Cuba Center, Delaware. That private estate botanical garden is today a public place, and a major center for the study of the wild plants of America. The center and Dr Lighty created several valuable garden plants from native material, and the aster called ‘Purple Dome’ is one of the very best of them.
Bring brilliance to your fall garden with the vibrant color of the Purple Dome Aster. It shows how a skilled selection can turn our native plants into outstanding garden varieties, valuable in all gardens. Order now – this popular variety is always in short supply.