If Salvia ‘Caradonna’ is one of my go to plants for early-mid Summer, then Aster amellus ‘Violet Queen’ & Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ are at the top of my list of late Summer / Autumn flowering herbaceous perennials.
Asters have a reputation for getting mildew, but both Aster amellus ‘Violet Queen’ and Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ are mildew and other trouble free, drought tolerant and long flowering. They both prefer a sunny, well drained position, but will cope with light shade.
Aster amellus ‘Violet Queen’
Aster amellus ‘Violet Queen’ (or ‘Veilchenkonigin’) is the shorter of the two at around 350-400mm high, so ideal for the front of a border. It is compact and very bushy so doesn’t tend to flop as some Asters do. It has lots of inky-purple flowers with yellow centres from August to October, so looks great in late Summer and Autumn planted in clumps along with Sedums (Hylotelephiums), Rudbeckias, Origanums, Echinacea, Ceratostigma et al.
Aster frikartii ‘Monch’
Aster frikartii ‘Monch’ is taller and more vigorous (700-900mm), so more likely to flop unless staked, but it is equally trouble free. It has paler – lavender blue flowers, and is even longer flowering than Violet Queen. Mine start flowering around mid July, and continue right through to October or even November. It looks good with all the dusky Autumn flowering plants, and absolutely stunning set against the deep yellow and orange flowers of Rudbeckias and Crocosmia, or indeed any yellow foliaged plant.
Spring is the perfect time to plant Asters (or lift and divide existing perennials – this should be done every 3 or 4 years to maintain vigour), so if you grew up thinking that Michaelmas daisies are weedy plants that always get mildew, give these plants a try now, and you will be very pleasantly surprised!