Plant Now: China Asters


China asters

The China aster (Callistephus chinensis) has long, rigid stems and a vase life of 10-14 days, making it ideal for the cut flower garden. The single flower types look a bit like coloured daisies, the doubles like pompoms. They come in all colours too – yellows, reds, purples, pinks, apricot and white. They are easy to grow – can, in fact, be sown in succession from early spring for a continuous display from summer till the first frosts. Seedlings are worth planting until the middle of summer. Once established, liquid feed fortnightly. As asters are susceptible to wilt attack, they are best planted in a different spot each year.

This lovely image of double-flowered China asters comes from foro de plantas.

Echinacea, Cosmos, China asters

I sowed cosmos on October 5th and they germinated just 5 days later. And five days after that, they’re ready for pricking out into small pots. Cosmos are a great investment for the summer garden because the flowers just keep on keeping on. See more on cosmos below.

Echinacea purpureaEchinacea
Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are getting more colourful every year. The most widely grown are the vibrant pink varieties (shown here), but there are also white, peach, tomato red, even yellow hybrids. Plant them in full sun in free-draining soil. They’re reasonably drought tolerant, but they’ll perform better will a little mollycoddling. Young plants, especially, need regular watering until established. Sow seeds in trays now for a late summer show. Or wait until summer and buy full-grown plants.

CosmosCosmos
You’ll never be without cut flowers if you sow cosmos. They flower profusely from spring to autumn, and in as little as two months after sowing. They come in soft pinks, vibrant pinks, white, yellow and orange, with single, double or fluted petals. Egmont Seeds and Kings Seeds both have a great range to choose from.

China asterChina asters
China asters (Callistephus chinensis) are hardy annuals grown extensively as cut flowers. They’re classic autumn flowers, and they come in vibrant, racy colours. If you prefer a paler palette, try the gorgeous new variety ‘King Size Apricot’ (click here to see) from Kings Seeds. China asters are super easy to grow from seed, or you can buy seedlings from your local garden centre. Plant them in full sun and keep the soil moderately moist. They won’t rebloom once picked (or deadheaded) so try successive sowing (sowing seeds once every two or three weeks) to get a steady supply of blooms for the vase.