The New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) thrives in USDA zones 4 to 8. Plant the aster seeds in the early spring or late autumn. Be sure to chill the seeds before planting by storing in the refrigerator for six weeks before planting. Sow directly into the flower bed and cover lightly with soil. Another option is to grow the seeds indoors for a few weeks before the last spring frost. Plant the seeds in flats and place in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for two weeks. Remove and allow the seeds to germinate at temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Transplant seedlings after frost, placing them about 10 inches apart.
Choose a location for your New England asters that gets full sunlight and has well-draining soil. Choosing to grow the asters towards the back of the garden is recommended because these flowers have a tendency to grow from 3 feet to 5 feet tall with a spread of 24 to 36 inches. New England asters like moisture so be sure to water frequently when getting established. to keep the plants shorter, try pinching the plants back several times before August 1st to encourage compact growth and force more blooms.
New England asters are beloved by Monarch butterflies and bees. There are different varieties and colors, with colors ranging from pink, lavender, fuchsia to deep dark royal purple. You can find seeds for New England asters at http://www.prairiemoon.com