In late summer, when earlier-blooming annuals are looking worn out, annual China aster is just coming into its full glory.
There are many cultivars available in sizes from dwarf to tall, as well as a variety of flower forms (single, pompon, mum-type, plumed) and colors (white, pink, red, coral, yellow, purple, lilac, blue).
In spring, start China aster seeds indoors for planting outdoors after frost; then sow seeds directly outdoors every two weeks for an extended season of bloom. Grow these pretty posies in beds with other annuals or in containers on decks and patios.
Common name: China aster
Botanical name: Callistephus chinensis
Plant type: Annual
Height: 8 to 36 inches
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Loamy garden soil, moderate fertility
• Moisture: Evenly moist but well drained
• Mulch: 1 to 2 inches organic mulch
• Pruning: None
• Fertilizer: Apply compost or soluble fertilizer as needed
Pests and diseases
• Aster yellows, aphids, leafhoppers
• Ribbon Series varieties are compact with bi-colored petals.
• Milady Series varieties are bushy and compact, and are offered in various flower colors; they’re good for containers.
• Gala Series types are tall-growing with large, quill-petaled flowers that are good for cutting.
• Totem Pole Mix types feature large, plumed flowers on tall stems.
• Serenade Mix varieties produce single daisy-type flowers in a range of colors.
• Plant China asters in different locations each year to help avoid disease problems.
• Compact forms are ideal for late summer and early fall container plantings. Pair them with potted mums for a riot of color.
• China asters are popular commercial florist flowers; plant tall varieties for colorful bouquets.
All in the family
• China aster is a member of the aster family (Asteraceae), a large plant family that also includes dahlias, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, zinnias and coreopsis.
• The flowers of aster family members are actually composed of separate ray flowers (the ring of “petals”) and disc flowers (the center of the flower).
• China aster is the only species in the genus Callistephus.
Where to buy
• Johnny’s Selected Seeds, johnnyseeds.com
• Swallowtail Garden Seeds, swallowtailgardenseeds.com
• W. Atlee Burpee & Co., burpee.com