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Morning glories have a hardy vine and are indigenous to South America. They have worked their way northward and today are either cultivated or grow wild throughout the United States and most parts of the world. Photos courtesy of Joe Urbach

Growth in gardening: September Birth Flowers

Sunday, September 2, 2018

For thousands of years, flowers have communicated many different meanings. This is often known as floriography or the language of flowers. Plants and flowers have been given different meanings to help loved ones express themselves to each other without words. Even our birth month has been given specific flowers that represent them. The aster and the morning glory are September’s birth month flowers. The star-like aster represents daintiness, wisdom and love. This daisy-like flower is an attractive addition to any garden, as they also attract butterflies. Morning glories, like asters, come in shades of purple, pink and white. These colorful blooms convey gentle affection. Let’s take a closer look at each.

First, the aster. Those lucky enough to be born in the month of September can claim the vibrant aster as their birthday flower. They provide an abundance of large blooms in summer and early fall. Asters come in a great variety of colors including red, white, orange and various shades of pink and purple, making them one of the most popular flowers for use in floral arrangements.

It’s estimated that there are more than 600 different species of these colorful wildflowers. Reminiscent of the daisy, asters can be found in North America, Europe, Asia and South America. Despite its appearance, the aster’s large flower is not one single flower at all but is actually an assortment of many tiny tubular flowers. Ancient Greeks name the aster after the Greek word (astér), meaning star. They often used asters to create wreaths, which they would place on altars to pay tribute to the gods.

One popular myth attributes the origin of the aster flower to the Greek God Virgo who was saddened by the lack of stars in the sky. Upset, Virgo began to cry. As she cried, lovely aster flowers began to grow on each spot where her tears landed.

During the Victorian era, asters became very popular. Victorians were fascinated by floriography and would use the color, type and arrangement of various flowers to send secret coded messages to one another. Asters conveyed feelings of love, devotion and daintiness. Asters are also associated with the qualities of faith, wisdom and valor.

One of the most often selected colors of asters is purple.

The color purple represents wisdom and devotion and has long been used to denote royalty. A bouquet featuring a variety of purple hued flowers would make a great gift, next time you want to make someone you love feel like a king or queen.

White Asters are associated with innocence and perfection. They can also signify a new beginning, making white asters an ideal choice to give to someone celebrating an engagement, graduation or starting a new job.

There was a time when it was believed that burning asters would provide protection against snakes. I’m sure this is just a myth but I do know that asters are wonderful if you want to attract butterflies to your garden. Because the aster’s flowering season coincides with the peak of their migration, monarch butterflies often use them as stop offs during their annual migrations.

The seeds of some varieties of asters look like miniature parachutes, which are carried and spread by the wind.

Now a look at the morning glory, this is a flower of duality. The Victorian meaning of morning glory was either love or mortality or love in vain. They are a hardy vine indigenous to South America and they have worked their way northward and today are either cultivated or grow wild throughout the United States and most parts of the world. A twining vine that will tenaciously latch onto anything vertical, there are over 500 varieties of this perennial flower.

There are more than 600 different species of asters. Despite its appearance, the aster’s large flower is not one single flower at all but is actually an assortment of many tiny tubular flowers. 

While often grown as annuals, morning glories are actually a perennial flower. Solid colors, bi-colors, strikingly outlined and double morning glories are available along with some other very unique cultivars. This plant establishes itself in any sunny vertical position, so be careful when planting. It tends to outgrow everything.

The morning glory has a number of meanings. The Chinese folklore of this flower symbolizes that lovers may only meet on one special day out of the year. The story behind this is that two young people fell deeply in love neglecting all of their responsibilities. As more and more chores were ignored the heavens started to rumble with the gods dissatisfaction. So, as punishment, they decreed that the lovers could meet just one day out of the year.

Morning glories also mean unrequited love. They can be found in Victorian literature and on Victorian gravestones to signify a love that never ended. Conversely, it can mean that a potential love was never reciprocated.

Early Christians believed that the morning glory related directly to the finite nature of life on earth, each single flower representing one life and life being represented by the daylight hours of the sun, withering and finally dying by nightfall.

Morning glory flowers can be found in blue, purple, red, white and yellow and variations of these colors. Some can be 8 inches across; these may be familiar to you as the fragrant moon flowers that are found in many gardens. The meaning of the color white symbolizes purity in the morning glory while the color red symbolizes a strong heart.

I would offer the morning glory as a symbol to a person who needs some tenacity to go after their dreams. Morning glories take each twist and turn in the road – or on the trellis – in their stride and just keep on going. This is the key to their success. You might also offer them for September birthdays either as a potted plant or maybe as a diary with an embossed design of a morning glory on it. Either of these gifts reminds those receiving the gift to have tenacity and tenderness in all things, be gentle but strong in your endeavors with other people, animals and nature. Above all it tells them to hold fast to their goals and dreams.

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, but you don’t have to say goodbye to summer so soon. Not when there are so many varieties of beautiful asters and morning glories to keep the good vibrations going strong.

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Joe Urbach is the publisher of GardeningAustin.com and the Phytonutrient Blog. He has lived in the Central Texas area for over 30 years. Urbach is a certified Texas Master Gardener from Hays County. For more information on the Master Gardener program contact the Hays County AgiLife Extension Service at 512-393-2120.