Callistephus chinensis commonly referred to as Chinese asters, China asters, or annual asters are showy ornamental plants that belong to the Asteraceae family being related to some of the most popular ornamentals such as daisies, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, marigolds, and others.
Native to China and Korea, Chinese asters are beloved by gardeners and cultivated as ornamental plants all over the world.
Chinese asters thrive in temperate climates, they are easy to grow and care for, and thanks to the wide range of cultivars available on the market, gardeners get to enjoy an impressive variety of asters.
If you are looking for an attractive garden plant that will fill your outdoor area with joyful blooms, the Chinese aster is a great choice.
Although the Chinese aster is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require a lot of effort, it will still be useful to learn more about its growth requirements. Keep reading to find out everything about growing, propagating, and watering this amazing ornamental!
About Chinese Asters
- The name “aster” is the Greek word for “star” and it refers to the shape of Aster blooms, which look like little colourful stars.
- Chinese asters have been in cultivation for hundreds of years in Europe, and for thousands of years in China.
- Chinese asters are annual late-bloomers, so they are sometimes considered transitional flowers as they bloom between summer and fall, enriching your garden with their delicate blooms and rich texture.
- When grown as annuals, Chinese asters are suitable for USDA hardiness zones 2-11.
- Chinese asters are not picky when it comes to soil, they thrive in any type of soil as long as it is moist, rich in organic matter, and well-draining.
- They prefer locations with full sun. They will survive in locations with partial shade but they do better when they get plenty of natural light.
- These versatile flowers can be grown both indoors and outdoors. They make great additions to any type of garden be it a cottage garden, a wildflower meadow, a butterfly garden, or a Mediterranean garden. They make eye-catching additions to garden beds and borders and thanks to their versatility you can mix and match different cultivars and create unique arrangements.
- Chinese asters can also be used in flower arrangements as they are long-lasting and attractive, so they make perfect additions to cutting gardens as well.
- The best companions for these late-bloomers are cornflowers, black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, goldenrod, hydrangea, sunflowers, and marigolds. You can also grow Chinese asters alongside ornamental grasses such as blue fescue, Mexican feather grass, Japanese forest grass, Zebra grass, and blue oat grass.
Asters Features: An Overview
- Chinese asters have large, attractive blooms that usually measure between 7 to 12 cm (3 to 5 inches) across. In general, Chinese aster cultivars will range in height from 20 to 90 cm (8 to 36 inches).
- Chinese asters have become an important commercial crop in the 1980s when a hybrid breeding programme was initiated in India. Thanks to this programme, gardeners can now enjoy a varied colour palette and rich blooms that have more petals. The newer hybrids are sturdier and more pest and disease-resistant
- Thanks to the wide variety of cultivars available on the market, you’ll find Chinese asters with single, semi-double, or double rows of petals.
- Unlike the native varieties of aster (Symphyotrichum) which have clustered blooms, the flowers of Chinese asters grow on separate stems.
- The blooms of Chinese asters can have a daily-like appearance with a yellow centre. They can also have a shaggy or a pompom shape, depending on the cultivar.
- As mentioned above, there are many varieties of Chinese asters available on the market, so you will have an abundance of options to choose from. You can find dwarf varieties of Chinese asters, but also taller varieties that will make great border plants. Cultivars vary in height, spread, petal count, and colour, so make sure you read the labels before you purchase to ensure that you’re choosing the right plants for your available space.
- The most popular Chinese aster cultivars are the disc-shaped ‘Lilliput Blue Moon’, the double-flowered ‘Matsumoto’, the pompon-shaped ‘Blue and White’, the rich and chrysanthemum-like ‘Crego Giant’, the joyful ‘Fireworks’, and the delicate ‘Hi-No-Maru’. These are just a few examples of beautiful Chinese aster varieties that you can easily find online and in nurseries.
- Chinese asters can be red, pink, purple, blue, violet, or yellow, and regardless of their colour, they will attract many beneficial pollinators to your garden.
- A great thing about Chinese asters is the fact that they are considered non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. This means that you can grow these ornamentals in your garden or in containers without worrying that your furry companions might get sick if they munch on them.
Growing Chinese Asters
Callistephus chinensis, commonly referred to as Chinese Aster, is an annual plant that thrives in temperate regions. It prefers rich, moist soil, that has good drainage and full sun.
The ideal soil temperatures for growing Chinese asters range between 21–22°C (70–72°F) during the day and 16–17°C (60–62°F) during the night.
You already know that Chinese asters are perfect garden ornamentals, but what you might not know is the fact that these plants have shallow roots so you won’t have any problems growing the in containers as well. If you decide to grow them in containers, it’s important to make sure that their soil doesn’t dry out completely, as these plants are not very drought-tolerant.
When growing Chinese asters in a container, choose one that is at least 25 cm (10 inches) deep and that will fit the type of Chinese aster you plan to grow. Check the seed packet and look for the approximate dimensions of mature plants and pick the container accordingly. When grown in containers, Chinese asters will make perfect patio or balcony plants and fill your outdoor area with life and colour.
In terms of fertilization, Chinese asters can benefit from a well-balanced fertilizer during the growing season. You can apply a slow-release fertilizer or a universal one that is NPK 10-10-10. Make sure you read the instructions carefully before applying fertilizer. Avoid using fertilizers that are too high in nitrogen as these will promote foliage growth instead of flowers.
Always space your Chinese asters properly, based on their maturity sizes and ensure good air circulation in-between your plants. Keep the soil evenly moist and don’t let it dry out completely. Another important thing that you should remember when growing Chinese asters is applying mulch – this will make your soil more water-retentive, and protect your Chinese asters from drought during hot summers and prolonged periods of drought.
When it comes to mulching, you don’t need to go overboard as too much of it can lead to waterlogging and fungal infections. Make sure you apply the mulch a few cm (inches) away from the base of the plants to allow the plants to breathe.
To encourage blooming, it’s recommended to deadhead your Chinese asters regularly, by snipping the spent blooms. This will prevent your plant from ending the blooming season and it will produce fresh blooms.
- BEAUTIFUL - Large seed packet of Powder Puff China Aster flowers (Callistephus chinensis). This variety produces beautiful lavender, pink, maroon, and white colored blossoms. Enjoy outside in the garden and indoor as cut flowers. Minimum of 750mg per packet.
- FUN - Plant wildflower style or in carefully arranged beds, whatever suits your fancy. Aster give your garden a beautiful pop of color in late summer and fall, when many other flowers are fading.
- POLLINATOR FRIENDLY - Butterflies and bees love Aster flowers and will likely pay you many visits. Great way to support your local pollinators.
- EASY TO GROW -- Instructions included on each packet with additional growing tips in the “How To” section of our website. Plus we are available to answer your questions as well. If these seeds don’t germinate, we will happily make it “Right” for you.
- SAFE SEED - Sow Right Seeds has taken the Safe Seed Pledge and sells only Non-GMO heirloom seeds that are safe for you and your family.
- Balcony, garden,farm, etc.
- Product type: Seed
- Cultivating difficulty degree: Very Easy
- Expected blooming period: Fall
- Start these Aster seeds to have your own display of coral-rose Paeony Duchess Asters. This variety as a resemblance to chrysanthemums which are usually seen in the fall. Aster Callistephus blooms earlier than chrysanthemums but has huge, double incurved flowers for lots of magnificent color.
- This coral paeony reaches 28 inches in height as grows as an annual in USDA zones 3 - 9.
- The Aster plants have an upright growth habit, and can reach 28 inches in height with 5 - 8 floral stems. Asters are a must-have for the cutting garden! Asters are annuals that grow quickly from flower seeds.
- Sowing Rate: 3 - 5 seeds per plant. Start the Aster seeds indoors in the early spring. Press the flower seed in the soil and lightly cover.
- Harden the Aster plants off for 10 - 14 days before transplanting outdoors. Aster plants prefer full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil.
Planting Chinese Asters
Planting Chinese asters isn’t a difficult task as these plants are not picky and will thrive in most types of soil, as long as they are well-draining and evenly moist. As mentioned above, when planting these ornamentals, make sure you use soil that is rich in organic matter – you can achieve this by amending the soil with leaf mulch, compost, or aged manure.
Before amending the soil, it’s best to conduct a soil acidity test, to ensure that you are doing the right thing. The ideal soil pH for Chinese asters is between 5.5 and 7.5 – this is a pretty wide range so you shouldn’t have any issues obtaining the perfect soil for your plants.
When planting Chinese asters, it’s very important to choose a location where they will get full sun. These plants will tolerate partial shade, but they will show the best results when they get plenty of natural light.
Another thing that you need to consider is the plants’ growth pattern. The sizes of Chinese asters can vary based on the variety, so you should provide room for them based on their maturity sizes and spread habits. Spacing plants and not overcrowding them will prevent future problems such as pest infestations and fungal infections.
Once you’ve selected the perfect planting location for your Chinese asters, you can pick up your gardening tools and get to work. First, you need to prepare the garden bed by turning the soil and breaking up the clods. You can also amend it with compost if it doesn’t seem rich enough.
Next, moisturize the soil until it is saturated but avoid making it too soggy. Sow the seeds on top of the soil 7-8 cm apart (3 inches) and press them into the soil gently. The seeds of Chinese asters don’t need to be covered by soil, so don’t bury them too deep.
Watering Chinese Asters
In terms of watering, Chinese asters are a bit needier than native perennial asters. Chinese asters are not as drought-tolerant once established and will require even and regular moisture and well-draining soil.
Most gardeners will water their Chinese asters once a week, but the watering schedule always needs to be adapted to the environmental conditions. In colder climates that get plenty of rain, Chinese asters won’t require extra watering as often.
On the other hand, they will need frequent watering in hot climates, especially during the summer.
Propagating Chinese Asters
There are two easy ways to propagate asters – cuttings and division. Some varieties of asters respond very good to cuttings propagation. If you want to try this method, all you have to do is to take some softwood cuttings, preferably in spring.
Cut a 7 – 13 cm (3-5 inches) section of healthy stem, remove the lower leaves, and keep a few upper leaves. You can use perlite or sand to root the cutting and you’ll achieve results faster if you place a clear plastic bag on top of the plant to prevent moisture from evaporating.
Keep the cuttings in a well-lit environment and water regularly until you start to notice new growth and the roots start to form. When this happens, you can move the plants to a new container filled with potting soil, or directly to your garden.
Another reliable way to propagate Chinese asters is through division. When your plants have reached maturity and the clump is large enough to divide (this will usually happen within three years after planting) you can divide the clump in two or more parts, depending on the size.
Use a shovel to cut the clump, dig up the cut part, and plant it in its new location. Freshly propagated plants will benefit from some extra feeding with bone meal, phosphorus, rock phosphate, or low-nitrogen fertilizer.
Chinese Asters Common Problems
The first thing that you need to remember about pests and diseases is that prevention is key. It’s always easier to prevent than to treat, so make sure you buy quality seeds from trusted sources, avoid overwatering, space plants correctly to promote airflow, weed your garden regularly, and use the fertilizer based on the label instructions. Another great preventive measure is using food-grade diatomaceous earth.
However, keep in mind that you won’t always be able to control every single corner of your garden and the weather won’t always be on your side, and some pests and diseases might still occur.
Other common diseases that affect Chinese asters include botrytis blight, leaf spots, fusarium wilt, aster yellows, rust, stem rot, and powdery mildew. You might not be able to save the plants if they are severely affected by one of these diseases. In this situation, it might be best to dispose of the affected plants to prevent the diseases from spreading.
Chinese asters are showy ornamentals that can liven up any space, be it a garden, a patio, or a terrace. Whether you grow these plants indoors or outdoors, you will get to enjoy their attractive blooms. These plants are really easy to grow and care for and all they need is plenty of natural light and regular watering.
They are easy to propagate, so you will be able to fill your garden with colorful plants that will attract all sorts of beneficial insects and pollinators in just a few years.
Are you growing Chinese asters? Share your experience in the comment section!