ASTER

P. The perennial border plant popularly known as Michaelmas daisy comprises numerous varieties of aster novi-belgii. Other types of aster which are perennial, such as A. amellus, are described later in this entry.

The China asters are half hardy annuals, belonging to various groups of callistephus .

Aster Novi-Belgii. The Michaelmas daisy has been improved out of all recognition in recent years and most of the varieties grown before 1939 are superseded by newer and better introductions. They flower in September and succeed on any type of soil, provided it does not dry out too readily. Some varieties increase very rapidly and it is advisable in most cases to divide and replant the strongest pieces in March from the outside of the clump, every 2 or 3 years. If this is not done, the quality of the flowers deteriorates and the plants soon develop an untidy appearance. Some thinning of the shoots may be needed after the first year and large clumps must always be staked, especially in exposed positions. Individual plants should go 10—12 in. apart.

Mildew can be troublesome on some varieties, especially in very dry weather. A wettable sulphur, thiram or Karathane fungicide should be applied at the first signs of infection. Aster wilt causes browning and withering of the leaves, resulting in stunted growth. It is best to dig up and burn infected plants.

Recommended Varieties:

The following vary in height, and are mostly 2 ½ ft t° 4 ft. depending on variety. They cover a wide colour range to suit all tastes. The individual flowers are semi-double, unless stated otherwise.

Ada Ballard: double. Mauve-blue. 3 ft.

Alex Norman: light rose-purple. 1 ½ ft.

Apple Blossom: the name describes the colour. 3-/2 ft.

Blandie: double. Creamy-white. 4 ft.

Blue Bonnet: rich blue. Excellent for cutting. 4 ft.

Chequers: rich violet-purple. Compact grower to 2 ft. Stands up well to bad weather and seldom needs staking.

Choristers: pure white. Very free flowering. 2 ½ ft.

Connie Thrower: violet-blue. Only grows to about 20 in., avoiding the need for staking. It is in bloom from early September and is useful for cutting.

Crimson Brocade: double. Warm crimson, a magnificent colour under artificial fight and unsurpassed for cutting. 3 ft.

David Murray: double. Lilac-pink. 3 ½ ft.

Destiny: double. Rose-violet. Useful for cutting.

Double One: double. Rich mauve. A short grower to about 2 ft.

Elegance: bluish-purple. Late flowering. 3 ft.

Ernest Ballard: rose-crimson. Large flowers which are excellent for cutting, especially under artificial light. 3 ft.

Erica: the colour of purple heather.

Eventide: violet-blue. 3 ½ ft.

Fellowship: double clear, light pink, feathery flowers which are larger than usual. 3 ft.

F. M. Simpson: violet-purple. Extra large semi-single flowers, very freely produced. 2 ½ ft.

Fontaine: tawny-pink. 2 ½ ft.

Gay border Royal: bright purple. 2 ½ ft.

Glorious: deep pink. Long-lasting flowers produced over many weeks. 3 ½ ft.

Janet McMullen: rose-pink. 3 ft.

Lassie: soft pink. 3 ½ ft.

Mabel Reeves: double deep pink. Large flowers over 2 in. across.

Excellent for cutting. 3 ½ ft.

Marie Ballard: double light-blue, possibly the best of all blues. 3 ft.

Melbourne Early Red: garnet-lake. Shorter than most varieties, growing to about 18 in. without support. Very early.

Mistress Quickly: deep blue. 3 ft.

Moderator: double. Violet-purple. Useful for cutting. Late flowering. 3 ft.

Mrs Joseph Sangster: rose-pink. Very large flowers. 3 ft.

Peerless: light heliotrope. 4 ft.

Roland Smith: petunia-pink. 3 ft.

Royal Velvet: bright violet. Does not need staking. Mildew-resistant. 2 ft. leggy and flower less freely. Increase in July by layering the long branches, by division or by cuttings of young shoots inserted in boxes of sandy soil in a cold frame. There are many excellent varieties including several doubles, but the latter tend to produce a number of single flowers from time to time.

Recommended Varieties:

Amethyst: amethyst-blue.

Astolat Double: mauve-blue. Compact habit.

Barker’s Double: reddish-crimson. Really only semi-double.

Bonfire: glowing crimson.

Bressingham Red: deep red.

Carnival: violet-blue. Early.

Godstone: rich purple.

J. S. Baker: violet-purple with a white eye.

Kelmscott Gem: double. Deep red.

Lancashire Beauty: soft blue.-

Lilac Time: lilac-blue.

Loddon Anna: semi-double. Rose.

Mrs. Rodewald: crimson.

Oakington Lavender: lavender-blue.

Pink Parakeet: clear pink.

Triumphant: mid-blue.

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