ASTER, Annual (China Aster) Compositae Callistephus chinensis
HABITAT: Native to Asia.
USES: Beds, cuttings, greenhouse flowering.
HABIT: Single or double flowering annuals, 6-36" in height; in blues, whites, lavenders, yellows, pinks, and reds; flowering mid-summer to frost, dependent upon varieties. Many different flowering types exist such as Pom-pon, Lilliput, Chrysanthemum-flowered, Peony-flowered, and plumed.
SEED GERMINATION: For best results sow seed in moistened Park's Grow Mix in early spring. Barely cover seeds and keep moist but not overly wet; maintain a temperature within the soil medium of 70 degrees F during germination, which takes place in 10-14 days. Transplant when large enough to handle to individual peat pots, or seed may be sown directly to peat pots or pellets; transplant to garden when roots emerge from pot walls. Seed may be sown outdoors after all danger of frost has passed.
CULTURE: Set out 12 inches apart when all danger of frost has passed in a well-drained, fertile, sandy loam with humus (leaf-mold, compost, peat, etc.) added. Incorporate three pounds of 5-10-5 fertilizer per one hundred square feet prior to planting.
Asters are shallow rooted and a mulch of clippings, compost, or straw is recommended to prevent drying out. Keep well watered.
Asters stop blooming after they are cut and have a very short (4 weeks) blooming period, thus it is good to make sowing and planting a two week intervals to insure a continuous flowering period.
Do not plant China Asters near Marigolds nor in the same location for more than two years at a time.
Asters may be grown in the greenhouse from sowings made indoors September to February to flower late winter and early spring. Grow cool (50 degrees F night temperatures). They may be grown in pots or benches. Full sun and rich porous soil are needed.
INSECTS: Blister Beetles: Use an approved insecticide, such as Malathion, for control.
Tarnished Plant Bug, Leafhopper: Use an approved insecticide, such as Malathion or Sevin, for control.
DISEASES: Wilt, Yellows: Use wilt resistant varieties. Change growing area often. Control leafhoppers and other insects. Feed and water regularly.
Rust: Use an approved fungicide, such as Ferbam or Thiram, for control.
REMARKS: Asters seem to perform best when nights are cool, thus performance is below par in the southern areas. Use of resistant varieties and taking advantage of early, mid-season, and late varieties to extend flowering period makes every attempt to flower this lovely flower from the Orient well worth the attempt.