Thursday, January 27, 2011

China Aster, Callistephus chinensis

Pink and blue Asters, Callistephus chinensis

Asters are tricky to grow well and I only had mixed success in growing them this summer. If you are not prepared to spray, they can be attacked by aphids, caterpillars, nematodes, powdery mildew, rust, wilt and root rot. They are worth the effort however as they make a terrific cut flower with their tall stems, especially the 'ostrich feathered' types such as 'Giant Crego'. I grew it and 'Perfection', both of which were available in punnets at my local garden centre, as well as some from seed . The first lot of seed failed to germinate and then the second batch did quite well by which time I had already planted out the punnets.
Peter Valder gives an interesting history of this Aster in his book The Garden Plants of China where it has been cultivated for centuries and known by the name of Cuiju or Kingfisher Chrysanthemum or Lanju blue chrysanthemum. Seed was sent to Europe in 1728 where pink and white forms were subsequently developed. Dorothy Graham writing in her book from 1938 Chinese Gardens describes eloquently 'the misty purple blue of China asters' and their 'feathery blossoms' which she used for filling in the spaces in her garden where other plants had thinned.
I am not a huge fan of the dwarf varieties such as the one pictured below, 'Starlight Rose', as these often get sold as instant potted colour, so the taller varieties become less well known and grown.

1 comment:

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