Chinese asterChinese asters are cool weather annuals or biennials native to China and Korea and members of the aster family, Asteraceae. They are not true asters, however, and belong to a different genus. The mid-green leaves are 3.5 inches long and deeply toothed. The flowerheads are usually carried singly on long branches stems from summer to fall and are surrounded by a whorl of leaf-like bracts. The ray petals are usually shades of pink to purple and surround a compact center of yellow disc flowers. Many varieties and cultivars have been developed differing in color, height, and fullness so that single, double and triple heads are available in a large range of colors including blue and white but not yellow. Aster yellows can be a severe problem that deforms the flowers, stunts the growth and yellows the leaves. It has no cure and plants have to be pulled out of the garden in order to check its spread. If you want to grow the plant every year, rotate the beds. In spite of aster yellow, Chinese asters are popular garden plants and especially prized for the vase.

Type: Annual or biennial

Bloom: Flowerheads three to five inches wide, with ray flowers in shades of white to pink, to red, puple and blue, from summer to fall

Size: 1-3’ H x 2-1.5’ W (depending on variety)

Light: Full sun to light shade

Soil: Fertile, medium moist, well-drained; must not dry out

Hardiness: Zones NA

Care: Deadhead; provide supports for tall varieties

Pests and Diseases: Aster yellow, aphids, leafhopper

Propagation: Seed

Companion plants: Ornamental Grass, Liatris, chrysanthemums, cosmos, dahlia, toothpick weed

By Karen