Aster is the standard-bearer genus of the immense botanical family, the Asteraceae
--so large that about one in 11 of all flowering species on Earth is a member. This cosmopolitan family embraces such diverse plants as Chrysanthemum, Marigold, Thistle, Dandelion, Artichoke, Ragweed, Lettuce, and Sunflower. What all the species have in common is a flower that is actually the fusion of many minute flowers in one head--a characteristic found in no other plant family.
Asters--from the Latin for "star"--have acquired the common name Starwort. Most, from tiny dwarfs to shoulder-high sentries, have daisy-like flowers with petals that radiate out from a central disk in a dynamic star-burst pattern.
Asters, like Mums, are quintessential fall-blooming perennials, but there are also varieties that bloom in spring and summer. As a group, Asters prefer full sun and evenly moist but well-drained soil. They perform poorly in dry soil. Plant in mass for best effect or interplant among other perennials. Asters will add vivacity to almost any garden site, from borders to rock gardens, or streamsides to dry sites.