China Aster – Callistephus chinensis [kal-LISS-teff-us chi-NEN-siss] is a member of the Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) family.
The plants’ genus name refers to two Greek words: “kalli”, which means beautiful and “stephos”, which means crown. The specific species (chinensis) means Chinese.
NOTE: The Callistephus Chinensis plant is the ONLY species in the genus of the Aster family.
It is a native of China as the name suggests. China asters are easy to grow, low maintenance, hardy, and a showy annual flower.
China Aster it’s common name comes in a wide variety of colors ranging from palest white to deepest purple.
You may also hear the plant referred to as Aster Sinensis or Annual Aster.
China Aster Callistephus Care
Size & Growth
Depending upon the cultivar, China Aster can grow small – 8″ inches or as tall as 2′ or 3′ feet with a spread of 12″ to 18″ inches. Very tall plants often require staking for support.
The foliage has oval, medium green leaves with toothed edges.
Flowering & Fragrance
Depending on the cultivar, showy flowers appear in shades of white, yellow, pink, blue, purple, violet and red.
The blossoms may be individual daisy-like flowers, double flower heads or even festive, shaggy pom-poms.
Blossoms 3″ to 5″ inches in size and appear throughout the growing season from early summer until the autumn. Butterflies find China Asters very attractive.
Light & Temperature
Grow China Aster in full sun, but can also do quite well in part shade. These plants flourish in USDA hardiness zones 2 to 11. They are somewhat sensitive to heat and may suffer in USDA zones higher than 9.
Watering & Feeding
Water deeply, occasionally. Don’t allow the soil to dry out completely.
Soil & Transplanting
A cool weather annual, plant China Aster in any well-drained, evenly moist, rich soil. The plant does best in chalky, loamy soil and can tolerate a wide variety of pH levels ranging from acidic to alkaline.
Keep the soil moist, but make sure to plant in well-drained soil.
Grooming & Maintenance
Deadhead flowers throughout the growing season to encourage more blooms. Keep weaker plants thinned to ensure good air circulation.
How To Propagate Aster Callistephus Chinensis
It is best to sow seed indoors approximately two months before the predicted date of the last frost. Set young seedlings out immediately following the last frost.
You may also sow the seed directly into the soil immediately following the last frost.
It’s a good idea to sow seed every couple of weeks throughout the growing season to ensure constant blossoms.
China Aster Flower Pest or Disease Problems
These non-toxic plants may be subject to infestation by spider mites, aphids and leafhoppers. Examine them frequently and spray as needed for these pests.
Disease problems include Aster Wilt, stem rot and Aster yellows.
Aster yellows is a systemic, chronic plant disease caused by phytoplasma in the soil. The phytoplasma causes disease in most members of the Aster family.
To prevent disease, avoid crowding your plants. Plants should be spaced 12″ to 18″ inches apart.
Provide good air circulation and rotate crops from one location to another year-to-year to prevent uptake of disease from the soil.
If you notice diseased plants, dig them up and destroy them.
Is the plant considered invasive?
China Aster has been introduced and has naturalized in several far northeastern states in the US, but is not considered invasive at this time.
Uses and Where to Grow China Asters in Garden Design
These plants do well in pots and containers, flower beds and borders, cottage gardens and cut flower gardens.