by Matt Gibson
Like the chrysanthemum and daisy, the China aster (Callistephus chinensis) flower belongs to the Asteraceae family. Most of the members of this family are annuals, and China aster is a tender annual, along with being one of the most widely bred and grown flowers in the world. The most popular cultivars of China aster are the double flowered masimoto, and the disc-like lilliput blue moon, however, the gorgeous flower is available in tons of different colors and styles. Due to breeding and cloning, horticulturists have developed wilt-resistant versions of the garden favorite in every shade imaginable.
This tender annual blooms from late summer to the first frost and has become a familiar sight in fall gardens around the world. Deadheading these flowers will lead to a season full of vibrant color for folks to enjoy all summer long.
Varieties of China Aster
There are more varieties of China aster than we could possibly list here in this article, but we will touch on the more popular varieties here. The ribbon series of China aster features bicolored flowers that grow up to a foot tall and perform well in containers. Also perfect for container gardens, the milady series of China aster are bushy and compact, growing up to 20 inches tall. The gala series grows even taller, up to 32 inches, and produces large quill-shaped flowers that are perfect for indoor bouquets. Also perfect for cut flowers, the super baby series grows up to 24-inch-tall fully double flowers that are sure to catch the eye in garden beds, containers, or vases. The serenade mix features small semi-double flowers that grow up to 22 inches tall. These blooms are perfect for cut flowers as well but also perform beautifully in containers and garden beds.
Growing Conditions for China Aster
China aster flowers prefer full sun to partial shade and nutrient-rich, evenly moist, well-draining soils. It’s very important not to let the soil of China aster flowers dry out. Mulching will help keep soil moist, but if moisture is not maintained, the shallow root systems will dry out, and the flowers will wilt and die. China asters also need lots of space and aeration in order to survive.
China asters are perfect for garden beds, borders, cutting gardens, containers, and cottage gardens. China asters prefer loamy soil but will function in just about any soil type. Growing one to three feet tall and one to two feet wide, China aster thrives in garden beds or container gardens equally well. China aster is suitable for USDA zones 2-11 and considered a half hardy annual, which means that it should be planted after all danger of frost has passed.
How To Plant China Aster
China aster plants can be started as a seed or purchased as full-grown seedlings and transplanted into garden beds. In most climates, the China aster produces blooms only in spring and fall, so unless you want to start seeds inside, purchasing and transplanting seedlings is the most foolproof way to ensure spring blossoms. Plant the seedlings outside after every chance of frost has passed, and water plants twice per week. Soon you’ll have large, striking blossoms that can be cut for indoor arrangements or just left in the garden to provide a eye-grabbing explosion of color. If your China aster plant starts to enter a lull or stops flowering in the heat of the summer, don’t give up hope. The versatile flower will pick up again with the emergence of cooler fall temperatures. If you live in a climate with abnormally cool summers, you should be able to enjoy China aster flowers all season long.
Care for China Aster Flowers
Soil care and regular watering are important steps in caring for China asters. If you are starting your China asters indoors, sow the seeds six to eight weeks before the final frost date. If sowing directly into a garden bed, sow your seeds after the last frost date with successive plantings at two-week intervals in order to enjoy new blooms throughout the flowering season. Plants appreciate good air circulation, and tall varieties may require staking or other support.
Garden Pests and Diseases of China Aster
Aster yellows, aphids, and leafhoppers can affect China aster plants. Spider mites may also be an issue in some gardens. Potential diseases that plague China asters include aster yellows, aster wilt, and stem rot. If your asters are diseased, the best solution is to dig up and remove all diseased plants. You may also need to move plants to different locations each year in order to prevent the recurrence of diseases. Hit the whole plants with a light but direct spray of water when watering your China asters to target aphids, mites, and leafhoppers. You can also use a light organic pesticide whenever you’re fertilizing your asters.
Using China Aster for Indoor Bouquets
China aster is one of the most popular flowers in the world for cuttings, as blooms retain their color and shape long after being separated from the root. Available in every color imaginable, the reds, yellows, purples, blues and whites look great as centerpieces of arrangements adorning your kitchen table or home’s entryway.
Videos About China Aster?
Check out this video to learn how to grow China aster from seed:
Or watch this short tutorial on growing and caring for China aster flowers:
This video is about how to sow tender annuals: