Growing Monte Cassino Aster is very easy. You do not have to be an expert gardener, be in horticulture or know a lot on how to grow this plant. How to garden them consists only of planting, minimal maintenance and harvesting when the flowers are already in bloom. However, you can turn this into a serious farming business for profit or improve the view of your garden landscape, or just the mere joy of gardening them to see these elegant florets. They grow so beautifully with very low maintenance and very minimal growing or cultivating inputs. Here's a easy guide on how to grow Monte Cassino Aster.
What is Monte Cassino Aster / Monte Casino Aster?
Have you ever noticed those small daisy like florets inside the flower shops? Haven't you seen them as fillers on bouquets and other floral arrangements? Aren't they pleasant and elegant all by themselves?
Those small, white and dense flower clusters are called Monte Cassino Aster. Generally, they are called Aster because of their "star" like flower heads. It is difficult to distinguish the aster species with small white flowers. However, the most common variety as cut flowers for flower shops are Monte Cassino and White Mardi Gras.
Locally (I mean in the Philippines), this flower is called Baby's Breath which is a misnomer. Baby's Breath are actually from the genus Gypsophila which are also densely clustered florets but without the daisy like yellow disk at the center of the flower head.
When to plant:
- Tropical Climate - can plant anytime of the year depending on the expected timing of flowering cycle. However, knowing June to October as the wettest season, better to do planting during this time. You cannot expect flowers to bloom during heavy rains.
- Temperate Climate - start planting late in the spring in time for a mid-summer bloom.
- Growing Cycle - 2 1/2 to 3 months
- Flowering Cycle - 2 to 3 months. At the end of this cycle, it needs to be dugged out and replanted for the next growing cycle. Towards the end of the flowering cycle, the flowering stalks are getting smaller and bushier.
How To Grow Monte Cassino Aster / Monte Casino Aster?
1. Seedlings are "supposedly" free. No need to buy seeds / seed packets or seedlings to grow this flowering plant. Although I have not tried growing it from seeds, but I believe it takes longer to grow it. You can start with one mature plant which you can ask from your local grower. No need to establish a nursery because from one mature plan, you can divide it into 3 or 4 clumps to start your small garden. A single plant like Aster can propagate more than four times by itself in a given year. At the end of its flowering cycle, you can use the same plant as the source of seedling for the next growing cycle.
2. Needs water only during the early growing stage or when the soil is totally dry. No need for complicated irrigation system or regular watering schedule to maintain them. Asters are actually drought resistant plant. But like any other plant during early stages of growth, they need water until sturdy. That is about two to three weeks from transplanting. Thereafter, the plants need only watering when the soil is very dry.
3. It only needs the sun. Monte Cassino Aster grows even on average soil. But it thrives very well under full sun. Little or no fertilizer input is required to make it bloom. However, if you want a profusely blooming flowering cycle, you can apply general purpose fertilizer once a month.
4. It minimizes the growth of weeds. Monte Cassino Aster do not need regular cultivation and soil pulverizing. Then, it also prevents the growth of weeds as their roots and leaf system expands. Weeding, at the most, can only be done twice during growing cycle. So, all in all, lesser maintenance.
5. Harvest blooming flowers regularly. The flowering stalks grow side by side. But they do not flower at the same time. To avoid crowding, cut / harvest those already in bloom. However, avoid harvesting when it is "over bloom". Florists prefer 10 to 20% of buds in the flowering stalk. Towards the end of the flowering cycle, the flowering stalks become smaller and bushier. Before they stop flowering, dig out the plants and use them for replanting in the next growing cycle.
The only downside of growing this kind of flower is that you have to spend time replanting them for a continuous supply of long flowering stalks. Other than that, you can just sit back and relax while you wait for them to bloom because it takes only very minimal agricultural tending to grow it. They don't even need insecticides as their flowers are not affected by the pests that harbor in them.
So the last thing left is packing these flowers for delivery. The vase life of these flowers is 3 to 5 days. It could even extend from 6 to 10 days with the proper floral solution and initial hydration.