From one highly variable species called aster has come a whole range of China asters -- singles, semi-doubles, and doubles as well as tall, medium, and dwarf -- all in a wide range of colors that includes white, pink, yellow, blue, and red.
Description of China aster: China asters are available from petite varieties that form compact mounds at 1 foot all the way to tall ones that grow to 21/2 feet tall. Bloom times differ too, with early summer, midsummer, and late summer varieties. For a continuous show, you'll need to pick different varieties and/or stagger sowing dates.
Growing China aster: China asters grow best in full sun in rich soil. Two disease problems have plagued them in the past: aster yellows, carried by leafhoppers, and fusarium wilt, a soil-borne disease. Select disease-resistant varieties when you buy seeds or plants. Spray to control insects. Don't plant them in the same ground two years in a row. Sow seeds indoors 6 to 7 weeks before planting outside. They germinate in 10 to 20 days at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, sow them into the ground outside after the last frost. Each variety blooms only 3 to 4 weeks, so for a continuous show, successive plantings must be two weeks apart.
Propagating China aster: By seed.
Uses for China aster: Use China asters in beds and borders. Alternate a space and a plant, then fill the spaces with young plants that bloom later. Tall varieties make superb cut flowers.
China aster related varieties: Pinocchio is a dwarf strain of mixed colors with a garden mum flower form and garden habit. Perfection Mixed plants grow to 2 feet with 4-inch fully double flowers. Super Giants Mixture grows to 21/2 feet with 5-inch double spidery flowers. The Matsumo series is wilt resistant. Violet Striped is the best of the series.
Scientific name of China aster: Callistephus chinensis