Aster Asteraceae

A part of the daisy family, aster is an ancient bloom that has been around for thousands of years, and you better believe it’s got a story to tell!

“The aster greets us as we pass, with her faint smile.”

— Sarah Helen Whitman

The Meaning of Aster

Aster’s have been around for quite a while, we’re talking all the way back to ancient times.

The meaning of this ancient wild bloom depends on its presentation, however, some of its more common meanings are:

  • Patience
  • Love of Variety
  • Elegance
  • Daintiness
  • Afterthought (or the wish things happened differently)

Like many other flowers, aster has a rich history filled to the brim with legends of magical gods and goddesses—just how we like it!

Let’s start with the ancient Greeks, shall we? 

The ancient Greeks were said to have burned the leaves of aster to ward off snakes and evil spirits. 

According to Greek mythology, when the god Jupiter decided to flood the earth to end a war of men, the goddess Astraea was so devastated she begged to be turned into a star. Afterward, when the floodwaters receded, she wept for the loss of so many innocent lives. Legend has it, as her tears turned to stardust and fell to Earth, the beautiful aster sprung forth from the soft ground. 

Another Greek legend tells the tale of King Aegeus’ son Theseus. When Theseus volunteered to slay the Minotaur (a mythical creature with the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man), he told his father that he would fly a white flag upon his return to Athens to announce his victory. However, Theseus forgot to change the flags and continued on to sail into a port with black flags flying. Believing his son to be dead, King Aegeus committed suicide. It is said that asters began to rise from the ground where his blood stained the earth. 

The ancient Greeks also believed asters to be a bloom sacred to the gods and were used in wreaths placed on alters. 

The Cherokee Indians also have a bit of legend for us to explore!  

According to Cherokee legend, two young Indian girls were hiding in the woods to avoid a great war between many tribes and sought the help of an herb woman. The woman sprinkled herbs over the two girls and covered them with leaves. The next morning, the two sisters had turned into flowers. The one wearing the blue dress became the very first aster flower. [1]

Aster Scent

There is no noticeable floral scent, however, the crushed foliage and flower heads of the aster do have a balsam-like aroma. [2]

The History of the Aster

The aster gets its name from the Greek word, “aster” which means star. Pretty self explanatory, right?

We’ve talked about Greek legend already, we know. But here’s a little more mythology for you (because we just couldn’t help ourselves). 

Another account of Greek myth tells the story of Asterea a bit differently. This legend claims Asterea looked up into the sky and was sad to see she could not find any stars. So sad, in fact, she began to weep. Where her tears fell, asters began to grow out of the ground. 

While a little bit different, the result is still the same—sometimes beautiful things are born from tragedy! 

Thomas Jefferson even had a passion for these beauties, particularly China asters. He cultivated several varieties on his estate in Monticello.

While by now we know the Greeks loved asters, clearly they weren’t the only ones! 

Victorians too loved these beautiful blooms. In Victorian England, floriography (coded communication through the exchange of flowers) was all the rage. Yup, you guessed it, asters (with their wide range of colors) were the perfect medium. 

Purple asters represented wisdom and royalty, white stood for purity, perfection, and innocence, red symbolized devotion, and pink represented love. 

Today, the aster is the official flower of those born in September as well as 20th wedding anniversaries. [3]

Keep reading

DID YOU KNOW?

Aster Fun Fact

According to the latest classification system, only 180 species of plants are recognized as true asters. [4]

How to Grow Aster

So you want to know how to grow some asters of your own!?

We’ve got your back!

Asters can reach up to 4 feet tall and there are about six hundred varieties of aster to choose from. 

Growing asters in the garden is relatively simple. You can start them from seed in the spring, but most of the time they are purchased as a potted plant. 

Planting Tips:

  • Plant your asters in a planting spot with full sun or partial sun with well-draining soil
  • Keep your new plant moist and continue to water until its blooms cease
  • When watering, be sure to water from the base and try not to splash the foliage. This can encourage powdery mildew and other fungal diseases
  • Fertilize your growing asters with a balanced plant food about once a month

Pro Tip: You may need to deadhead your asters in order for them to produce more blooms. [5]

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DID YOU KNOW?

Aster Fun Fact

 People have cultivated and used aster for decorative purposes for at least 4,000 years.[4]

How to Care for Asters

Alright, and now onto how you should care for your freshly cut asters.

  • Be sure to cut the ends of your aster at an angle before submerging in water
  • Remove all foliage that will find itself below the water-line
  • Keep your freshly cut asters away from cool drafts or harsh sunlight
  • Replace water and recut stems every few days
  • Most importantly, enjoy their beauty!
Keep reading

When to Give Aster as a Gift

Aster makes the perfect addition to any flower arrangement, but are most commonly used as a September birthday gift or 20th wedding anniversary gift! 

References:

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