Callistephus China aster

Height: 15-75cm (6-30in)

Planting: distance: 20-45cm (8-18in)

Features: flowers summer until first frost

Soil: ordinary, loamy

Site: open, sunny

Type: half-hardy annual

Just one species, Callistephus chinensis, is responsible for the many varieties of China aster on the market – tall and dwarf, single- and double-flowered, mixed and single colours. The flowers looklike a cross between a chrysanthemum and a daisy and come in shades of pink, red, mauve, blue, apricot, cream and white.

Flowering from late summer until the first frost, they are excellent in borders and containers towards the end of the annuals’ season. As they last well in water, they are also suitable for cutting.

Calliste(bns chinensis ‘Ostrich Plume Mixed’

Popular varieties:

The tall varieties of China aster reach 50-75cm (20-30in) high, the dwarf varieties 15-30cm (6-12in). Single blooms have a clearly visible central disc, while double blooms have more petals which conceal the centre.

TALL MIXED COLOURS

‘Andrella’ has single blooms with yellow centres.

‘Compliments’ has unique flowers in salmon-pink, light blue or white, each with a silvery sheen.

‘Devon Riviera’ has large, double flowers on branching stems.

‘Double Giant Florett’ is a variety with enormous blooms with needle-like petals in a host of colours.

‘Duchess’ has double, chrysanthemum-like blooms.

‘Germania’ has double flowers of exceptional quality, which come in a host of colours.

Callistepbus chinensis ‘Milady’ ‘Matsumoto’, a Japanese variety, is especially good for cut flowers.

‘Ostrich Plume Mixed’ has double flowers with ostrich feather-like petals.

‘Pastell’ has double flowers in soft pastel colours.

‘Pompon Splendid’ has small, double flowers with densely packed petals.

‘Princess’ has fully double flowers with quilled petals towards the centre.

‘Super Single’ has large, single flowers on long stems.

TALL SINGLE COLOURS

‘Apricot Delight’ has double flowers of an unusual shade.

‘Blue Magic’ has double blooms of the quilled type.

‘Meteor’ has large, single, deep rose-pink flowers.

‘Opus’ produces white flowers tinged with pink.

‘Princtte Pink’ has rich pink blooms with white tops.

DWARF MIXED COLOURS

‘Carpet Ball’ has dense clusters of double blooms.

‘Colour Carpet’ has many medium-sized, double blooms on small, compact plants.

‘Comet’ produces large, double blooms of a quilled petaltype in a host of bright colours.

‘Dwarf Queen’ is a mixture of compact, bushy plants with masses of double flowers.

‘Lilliput’ has small, double, pompon-shaped flowers with narrow petals.

‘Milady’ has large, double, chrysanthemum-like flowers which are long lasting and resistant to weather. The plants are particularly robust.

‘Pepite’ has semi-double flowers that are particularly resistant to weather.

Callistephus ckinensis ‘Pepite’ ‘Pinocchio’ bears masses of small, double, ball-shaped flowers.

‘Starlet’ produces double, star-like flowers on small, compact plants.

‘Thousand Wonders’ forms neat, compact mounds of medium-sized, double flowers.

DWARF SINGLE COLOURS

‘Blue Beddcr’ has bright blue, single-flowers.

‘Blue Skies’ has masses of single, pale lavender-blue flowers.

‘Pink Bedder’ has double, bright rose-coloured blooms.

‘Scarlet Bedder’ has double, bright scarlet blooms.

‘White Bedder’ has double, pure white flowers.

Cultivation

Sow seeds under glass in earlv spring at 16°C (61°F). Harden off before planting out in late spring after the risk of frost has passed.

Alternatively, sow directly in the flowering site in mid spring and thin tall varieties to 38-45cm (15-1 8 in) apart, and dwarf varieties to 20cm (8 in) apart.

Choose an open, sunny site with shelter from wind for the taller varieties. A medium loam is best, though ordinary garden soil still gives good results.

Remove the first dead flowers to encourage blooms on the side shoots.

Pests and diseases: Callistephus wilt may attack plants as they are about to flower- avoid using the same bed two years running to deter this disease. Foot and root rot may cause the seedlings or mature plants to collapse. Caterpillars and aphids can be a problem.

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