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Japanese aster is a flowering perennial native to Japan and some other parts of Asia. Known by the scientific name Kalimeris, this upright, bushy plant averages a height between 2 and 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters), with an equivalent width. It produces flowers 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter that bloom all season long, from spring to the first frost. Single flowers bloom on the tops of narrow stems. The leaves have a smooth texture with a dark green color and average 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.6 centimeters) in length.
Although its flowers aren’t showy, due to their diminutive size, Japanese aster has become a popular garden plant because of its prolonged blooming season. Japanese aster flowers have yellow centers, and the petals can be white, lavender, or pink. The flowers don’t have any scent, but the plant attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and beneficial insects such as bees.
Japanese aster is a hardy plant. It thrives in heat and humidity, and is capable of enduring varying conditions. One reason Japanese aster is so popular with gardeners is its ease of maintenance. All a gardener has to do is plant it and watch it grow.
It can tolerate either moist or arid locations and is resistant to disease, deer, mildew, and insects. This perennial prefers full sun and will produce more blooms in a sunny location, but can endure and bloom in partial shade. It is a fast-growing plant that looks attractive in a container or a garden.
Japanese aster can be pruned to become shorter and bushier. The flowers don’t have to be deadheaded or removed to encourage new blooms, since they just fade away and disappear on their own. Plants can be propagated by seeds, rooted cuttings, or by dividing them after they have become established. They should be planted in well-drained soil and spaced 15 to 18 inches (38 to 46 centimeters) apart.
There are several different varieties of Japanese aster. Kalimeris pinnatifida Hortensis, commonly known as the double Japanese aster, sports double white blooms that resemble chrysanthemums. The flowers on Kalimeris incisa, which resemble daisies and range in color from pale lilac to white, are 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) in diameter. Kalimeris yomena has a striking variegated foliage with gray and green coloration. It has a shorter blooming season than other members of the Kalimeris family, with blossoms that appear in the autumn as pale lilac flowers with yellow centers.