13 of the Best Tall China Asters for the Late Summer Garden

China aster, Callistephus chinensis, is a flowering annual suitable for gardeners in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 to 11.

It’s a member of the Asteraceae family that includes the chrysanthemum and daisy.

Colors range from bold vibrant tones to serene pastels.

In our article on how to grow and care for China aster, we discussed all you need to know about cultivation and maintenance.

A vertical picture of bright purple and yellow Callistephus chinensis flowers growing in the garden. To the center and bottom of the frame is green and white text.

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To recap, you need to start seeds 6 to 8 weeks before, or direct sow immediately after the last average spring frost date.

Provide organically-rich soil that drains well, and maintain even moisture throughout the growing season.

Grow in full sun in all but the warmest regions, where afternoon shade is beneficial.

Expect beautiful flowers to bloom in three to four months.

In this article, we recommend 13 of our favorite varieties. They are among the tallest available, and offer exceptional vertical interest in the late summer to fall garden.

Here’s the lineup:

As an annual, C. chinensis affords you the opportunity to change color schemes each year.

And for best results, you should change growing locations annually as well, to inhibit pests and disease.

Now, let’s meet the best of the tall varieties!

13 of the Best Tall China Asters

There are numerous series of C. chinensis cultivars. In each series are a number of cultivated varieties with similar characteristics.

Some are 12-inch dwarf plants, while others are giants that top out at 36 inches tall.

A close up of delicate China asters growing in the late summer garden. The 'Hi No Maru' variety has bicolored blooms with white outer petals and purple or pink inner petals. Pictured here in bight sunshine.

There are single, semi-double, and full-double rows of petals for appearances ranging from daisy- to peony-like.

As for color, there are pinks in shades ranging from ballet to magenta, purples from royal to lavender, blues, reds, whites, yellows, and bi-color combinations.

Our favorites are 13 long-stemmed cultivars that offer exceptional cutting garden potential, disease resistance, longevity, and visual impact.

1. Blue and White

This pompon variety features compact, full-double flower heads. They have dense, incurved petals and somewhat flattened tops.

A close up of the delicate flowers of Callistephus chinensis 'Blue and White' pictured in the late summer garden on a soft focus background.

‘Blue and White’

Each blossom resembles a bull’s-eye, with an outer ring of violet, and a yellow center ringed with white.

Mature heights for this type are about 20 inches. Plants may require staking.

Plant en masse to create an exciting display. As the purple and yellow are color opposites, they are quite visually stimulating.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in packet, 1-ounce, and 1/4-pound sizes.

2. Crego Giant

Here’s a flower with semi-double blooms. The petals curl like ribbons and resemble the chrysanthemums of autumn.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Crego' in a variety of colors on a soft focus background.

‘Crego Giant’

Colors include bright pink, purple, red, and white. Yellow disks peer out from the flower centers.

Heights range from 18 to 36 inches at maturity. Staking may be necessary.

The fuzzy quality of the petals and wide variety of colors make this type perfect for informal mixed borders where textures, colors, and heights vary.

Find seeds now from True Leaf Market in 1.5-gram, 1-ounce, and 4-ounce packages.

3. Fireworks

This variety has semi-double flowers in dark and light shades of pink and purple, as well as white. The needle-like petals look like starbursts, or fireworks in the summer sky.

A close up of the delicate blooms of Callistephus chinensis 'Fireworks' in purple, pink, and white.

‘Fireworks’ Mix

Mature heights reach about 24 inches tall. Stake as needed.

A bit brighter than pastels, but not bold jewel-like tones, the cotton-candy colors of this mix practically shout “butterfly garden,” and are the perfect complement to other late-summer blooms that attract beneficial pollinators.

Find seeds now from Burpee in packages of 100.

4. Giants of California

This variety boasts large, semi-double blooms with loose, ribbon-like petals that look like plush daisies.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Giants of California' in a cut flower bouquet.

‘Giants of California’

Colors include shades of pink and purple, as well as white. The center disks are yellow and prominent.

This is one of the largest and most impressive varieties with mature heights of up to 36 inches tall.

While giants are the favored plants for the backs of beds and foundation plantings, these beauties beg to be showcased where passers-by can “ooh,” and “ahh.”

Provide support, perhaps in the form of a decorative twig garden fence.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce, 1/4-pound, and 1-pound packages.

5. Gremlin Double

This cultivar offers fluffy flower heads that resemble large pompons. The petals are somewhat rolled and pointed, like quills.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Gremlin Double' in a variety of colors in the late summer garden.

‘Gremlin Double’

Expect an array of bright and subdued pinks and purples, as well as white.

‘Gremlin Double’ grows up to 30 inches tall at maturity and plants are likely to require staking.

These showy blooms have defined shapes and bold colors that make them well suited to contemporary placements amidst manicured shrubbery, or in containers with clean, geometric lines.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce and 1/4-pound packages.

6. Hi-No-Maru

This intriguing variety has small, compact flower heads. With densely packed petals and flat tops, they resemble colorful buttons.

A close up of the delicate two-toned Callistephus chinensis 'Hi No Maru' flowers growing in the garden.

‘Hi-No-Maru’ Mix

There are two color schemes: red and pink or blue and purple, both ringed with white. The center disks are yellow and wide.

Expect a mature height of approximately 20 inches tall.

Bi-color blooms often show best in a space of their own. Bold and bouncy, the movement of these blossoms in the breeze is a feast for the eyes.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce or 1/4-pound packages.

7. Ostrich Feather

The shaggy full-double blooms of this cultivar are reminiscent of the flouncy plumes of an ostrich.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Ostrich Feather' in a variety of colors from pink to purple.

‘Ostrich Feather’ Mix

Colors include blue, pink, purple, red, and white.

Mature heights range from 16 to 24 inches.

A bit undefined and wild, and not overly tall, these botanical beauties are right at home in a cottage garden of equally bold and blousy blossoms.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce and 1/4-pound packages.

8. Peony Duchess

The large, cup-like, upturned petals of this full-double variety give it the appearance of a luscious pastel peony in full bloom.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Apricot,' growing in the garden in the late summer sunshine.

‘Peony Duchess’ Apricot

The apricot colored cultivar has a soft and tranquil quality. The white is purity itself.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Peony Duchess' white flowers growing in the garden.

‘Peony Duchess’ White

Mature heights are approximately 28 inches tall. Stems may require staking

Intermingle the two colors for a peaceful meditation garden.

White blossoms seem to glow in the evening twilight, making for restful strolls at the end of the day.

Find seeds for ‘Peony Duchess’ apricot now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce and 1/4-pound packages.

And in white, also from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce and 1/4-pound packages.

9. Powderpuff

This semi-double type has densely packed petals and a curved, flattened top, like a cushion, or old-time powder puff.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Powder Puff' in a variety of colors, surrounded by foliage.

‘Powderpuff’ Mix

Available in rich pinks and reds, as well as whites, blooms have button-sized yellow center eyes.

Expect heights to reach about 24 inches tall at maturity. Stake as needed.

Mixed groupings with pops of red brighten the late days of summer. Use as a stand-alone or pair with other flowers of similar hues in beds, borders, and containers.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce, 1/4-pound, and 1-pound packages.

10. Purple Burst

‘Purple Burst’ has a semi-double flower with purple petals that are splashed with white, for an unusual variegated look.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Purple Burst' with white and purple striped petals and vivid yellow centers.

‘Purple Burst’

With its bold yellow eye, this cultivar looks like a jazzed-up daisy.

Plants top out at heights ranging from 18 to 24 inches tall at maturity.

A unique flower that commands attention, use it as a stand-alone, or pair it with bright yellow late-summer flowers, for an eclectic contrast.

Find seeds now from Burpee in packages of 150.

11. Rubens

This mixed batch offers full- and semi-double blooms in a host of single and two-toned combinations – in shades of red, pink, purple, and white.

A close up of Callistephus chinensis 'Rubens' in a variety of different colors on a soft focus background.

‘Rubens’ Mix

Each flower head is a densely packed pompon with petals that are either upturned like a mum, or curled back, more like a zinnia.

Some yellow centers are evident and others are not visible beneath the multiple layers of petals.

Plants are approximately 20 inches tall at maturity. Stake as needed.

This variety provides a rainbow of colors and textures perfect for stand-alone displays, mixed groupings, and instant multi-colored bouquets.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce and 1/4-pound packages.

12. Single Mix

Single cultivars have one row of petals. This type sports rich hues of pink, purple, red, and white. The prominent, raised center disk is golden yellow.

A close up of pink, purple, and red Callistephus chinensis 'Single' flowers, with ray-like petals and yellow centers.

‘Single’ Mix

The overall appearance of this type is that of a colorful daisy. Expect stems to mature to 36 inches tall. Staking is advised.

The richly color-saturated blossoms of this variety offer a revved-up alternative to the traditional white-petal daisy, and make striking additions to cut flower arrangements.

And while they look like they should be grown in small pots on the patio, their exceptional height belies their dainty charm.

Find them a spot where they can tower behind smaller plantings, creating a vivid backdrop for a multicolor summer garden display.

Find seeds now from Eden Brothers in 1-ounce, 1/4-pound, and 1-pound packages.

13. Sonata

This is a peony-style flower. It’s a large full-double with layer upon layer of upturned petals.

The color is a soft buttercream yellow. There is no distinguishable center disk amongst the luxurious petals.

Mature heights are approximately 24 inches tall. Stake as needed.

The subtle shade of ‘Sonata’ plays beautifully in massed drifts that mimic the hazy sunshine of late summer afternoons.

It also pairs well with other full-double varieties in shades of lavender and blue.

An Ever-Changing Palette

The showy blossoms of these 13 China aster varieties offer gardeners in almost every zone the opportunity to create late summer displays ranging from bold and contemporary to subdued and traditional.

And best of all, you can change your color scheme each year to enjoy the many different varieties available.

A close up of China asters growing in the sunshine in the late summer garden in a variety of colors.

When you grow China asters, it’s best to rotate planting sites to prevent the spread of pests and disease. I view this as a welcome challenge that enables me to bring different sections of the garden into focus each year.

Now it’s your turn to pick your favorites. Remember to order enough to enjoy in the garden as well as cutting for vase arrangements.

Are you growing China aster? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to post a picture!

And for more information about growing asters in your garden, you’ll need these guides next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Burpee, Eden Brothers, True Leaf Market, and Ukrainian Real Seeds. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

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Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

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Lynda Savage
Lynda Savage (@guest_20831)
1 year ago

This marvelous plant appeared in my garden this year. It started small. I didn’t even notice it until it was about a foot tall. I’m guessing a bird may have deposited it there because I know I didn’t plant it. Before it flowered in October I went through 4 flower ID apps to figure out what it was with all sorts of wrong answers. It is now 5.5′ tall and covered in medium purple multi pom pom type flowers. They are unscented and about 2″ in diameter. I’m still not totally sure it is an aster. It lacks the yellow… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu(@allison-sidhu)
Reply to  Lynda Savage
1 year ago

Most do have yellow centers, though some cultivated varieties resemble more of a pompom. You might also try collecting and saving seeds from your plant to sow next year. What do the petals look like, and does your plant resemble any of the species pictured in our other guides to growing and caring for asters? You can upload photos by clicking on the paperclip icon at the bottom right corner of the comment window, selecting your image and clicking Open in the popup window to add it as an attachment, and clicking the green button to post your comment. Hope… Read more »