China aster, an easy-to- grow annual known for its showy blossoms, is a favorite cut flower that flowers late spring or early summer through fall. This cool-weather plant comes in an array of colors and heights.
Garden Plans For China Aster
The white, pink, red, blue, violet, purple, or yellow flowers typically open 3 to 5 inches in diameter, depending on the variety. The most common form is a single row of colorful petals around a yellow central disk; however, there are semidouble types with several rows of outer petals around a yellow disk, double blooms with no yellow center visible, and shaggy pom-poms popular in bouquets. The oval medium-size green leaves have slightly serrated edges.
China Aster Care Must-Knows
You'll get an upright plant with vibrant colors when China aster is planted in rich, consistently moist soil that is well-drained. A cool-season grower, it will not be happy in warm Southern climates during the summer. If it gets too hot, the plant is likely to stop blooming, but it comes back in fall with another cool-season show.
If starting indoors, sow seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost date. If sowing directly into a garden bed, sow seeds after the last frost date with successive plantings at two-week intervals. Plants appreciate good air circulation, and tall varieties may require staking or other support.
China aster is susceptible to a few pests, including aphids and spider mites. Potential diseases include aster yellows, aster wilt, and stem rot. The best solution is to dig up and remove diseased plants. You may also need to move plants to different locations each year in order to prevent transmission of diseases.
Work is ongoing to develop even more eye-catching varieties on sturdier stems to take advantage of these long-lasting flowers in bouquets. But there are also varieties being grown with the home gardener in mind. Because of this, a wide variety of different heights are available.
More Varieties of China Aster
'Matsumoto' china aster
Callistephus 'Matsumoto' is a tough, wilt-resistant aster. This series has semidouble flowers in just about every color and reaches 24 to 30 inches tall. Great for cutting. Annual
'Milady Series' china aster
Callistephus 'Milady Serie's is a fully double series with chrysanthemum-like blooms in a wide variety of colors. This series also has good wilt resistance. Annual
'Starlight Mix' china aster
Callistephus 'Starlight Mix' has threadlike petals in a variety of jewel tones. These blooms look like fireworks. Dwarf plants are great for containers or the front of the border. Annual
Plant China Aster With:
Exciting new selections with incredible foliage patterns have put coralbells on the map. Previously enjoyed mainly for their spires of dainty reddish flowers, coralbells are now grown as much for the unusual mottling and veining of different-color leaves. The low clumps of long-stemmed evergreen or semi-evergreen lobed foliage make coralbells fine groundcover plants. They enjoy humus-rich, moisture-retaining soil. Beware of heaving in areas with very cold winters.
For a spectacular show during cool weather, plant marguerite daisy. Often confused with Shasta daisy, marguerite is more mounded and shrubby. Different types also come in pink with a bloom that more resembles purple coneflower.Marguerite daisy's hallmark is that it loves cool weather -- and blooms best in most areas in spring and fall, though it will continue to bloom through the summer in mild-summer areas. Even when it's not in bloom, the dark green, finely cut foliage looks good against just about any light-color flower.
Like so many grasses, fountaingrass is spectacular when backlit by the rising or setting sun. Named for its especially graceful spray of foliage, fountaingrass also sends out beautiful, fuzzy flower plumes in late summer. The white, pink, or red plumes (depending on variety) continue into fall and bring a loose, informal look to plantings. This plant self-seeds freely, sometimes to the point of becoming invasive.