Callistephus chinensis: China aster

Family: Asteraceae
Common name: China aster, Chinese aster, Annual aster

China aster flowers growing in bunches is quite a sight to see, filling your garden with brightly-colored flowers and butterflies. They are a native of China, as the name says. But they are now grown in gardens and parks all over the world, in varying shades of pink, purple, yellow, white, blue, and red.

There are many hybrids and cultivars of China aster plants varying in size from the dwarf 8-inch plant to the huge 3 feet one. They have tall, relatively unbranched stems which are greenish-brown in color.

Leaves are green and roughly oval with toothed edges, but shapes and sizes vary from older leaves to younger ones. The stem branches well towards the tip, producing flowers that are about 3-5 inches in diameter.

Flowers vary in size and shape, sometimes having a single layer of petals or ray florets with distinct yellow disk florets. The petals could also be double-layered, multi-layered, or pom-pom-like, where the disk florets are not visible at all.

These brightly-colored flowers attract birds, bees, and insects into the garden, helping in the pollination of China aster plants, and also their neighbors. These flowers later form small, rough-textured fruits that are initially green and later turning brown.

China aster flowers are very commonly used in flower arrangements since cut flowers stay beautiful for a few days. The plants are annual, dying off after the flowering season.

Since they bloom profusely, the plant might droop or break from the weight of the flowers. So it’s better to provide good support even before they start flowering. China aster plants need full sunlight, well-drained soil, regular watering, and nutrition, to promote blooming.

It is important to space the plants well, since their flower heads are large, and need sufficient space to flower well. Planting China aster too close to each other will result in stunted growth due to over-crowding. They are also susceptible to yellowing, fungus, aphids, mites, and beetles that have to be addressed on time to promote healthy plants.

Propagation is through seeds.