Useful late flowering annuals, ideal for containers or at the front of the border. Quick to grow from seed, they are loved for their large daisy-like blooms, providing excellent late summer and autumn colour.
Family: Asteraceae (daisy)
Botanical Name: Callistephus chinensis
Common Names: China Aster, Annual Aster.
Foliage: Deciduous, hairy, deeply lobed green leaves
Flowers: Large daisy-like blooms in a wide range of colours, some even bicoloured. Single or double flowers.
Flowering Period: July to October.
Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Alkaline or neutral pH.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Best grow in a west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.
Type: Half-hardy Annual.
Origin: China and Japan.
Hardiness: Half-hardy (tender) in the UK. Protect from frost.
Choose an open sunny sheltered site. Requires a deep, rich, neutral to alkaline, light soil.
Don't grow in the same spot year after year, as this may cause a build up of diseases.
Useful for the border or as cut flowers. Cut flowers last well in water.
Mulch in spring and water regularly during dry weather. Stake tall varieties as they grow. Tall, double flowered forms will need firm support.
To improve flowering, apply an all-purpose flowering plant food (slightly higher in phosphorus and potassium) every few weeks, or use a slow release form. Do not over fertilize.
Dead head spent blooms to encourage more flowers on the side shoots.
Susceptible to attack by caterpillars and aphids. Can be affected by foot and root rot and wilt disease.
Sow the seeds under-glass in early spring at 16°C (61°F). Prick out, pot on and harden off before planting out in late May.
Alternatively, sow directly at the flowering site in early May. Sow in well prepared ground and thin to required spacing.
A wide selection of China Asters are available in seed catalogues, from dwarf forms to tall giants. Flowers are available as single or double, in a wide variety of shapes and colours.
Callistephus chinensis is the basic species, which bears purple daisy like flowers with a yellow centre. A good number of garden strains are available. Flower types include double, semi-double, single, pompom, ostrich-feather, duchess and quilled forms. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread to 1ft (30cm).