Plant China Aster for Annual Color in the Late Summer Garden


China Aster, or Callistephus chinensis, is a member of the Asteraceae family that includes the chrysanthemum and daisy. Unlike other aster varieties, this one is not a perennial, but an annual.

China aster flowers make a lovely addition to the cutting garden. We'll teach you how to grow them:

Originally from China, this species has undergone much horticultural manipulation to achieve an array of cultivars. Perhaps the best known are the double-flowered ‘Matsumoto’ cultivar, and the disc-like ‘Lilliput Blue Moon.’

In addition to an increased color palette and more petals, today’s versions of the original are wilt-resistant, and make sturdy and attractive cutting flowers.

Late Season Rejuvenation

China aster is a tender annual that blooms from late summer until the first frost.

Add color to the garden with China aster |

It has naturalized in my region of the Northeast, where it has become a familiar part of the autumn landscape. Its showy blooms breathe new life into the fading summer garden, hinting of the crisp, cool days to come.

By deadheading, a continuous display of color will delight visitors to your garden from late summer until the first frost.

Purple Callistephus chinensis flowers 'Matsumoto'|
C. chinensis ‘Matsumoto’

C. chinensis Plant Facts:

  • Annual
  • Array of cultivars in white, yellow, and shades of red and blue
  • Blooms late summer to first frost
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Heights up to 3 feet
  • Sturdy flowers for cutting
  • Moist, well-drained soil
  • Vigorous grower
  • Zones 2 to 11

Where to Buy

“Powderpuff Mix” China Aster seeds are available from True Leaf Market in one- and four-ounce packages.

Multicolored China aster flowers |

“Powderpuff Mix” China Aster Seeds

Seed produces sturdy stems from one to three feet, with double-petalled blossoms in an array of colors.

Summer’s Last Hurrah

In my area, once Labor Day comes, summer’s over. The kids go back to school, and yard time is reduced to a precious hour between the arrival of the school bus and dinner on the table.

Purple and white Callistephus chinensis 'Blue Moon' flowers |
C. chinensis ‘Lilliput Blue Moon’

I try halfheartedly to keep my late summer garden going by removing spent stems and blossoms, and generally neatening things up. But what makes me happier is knowing that there’s a whole new crop of flowers about to burst onto the scene.

The Montauk daisy (Nipponanthemum nipponicum) shares the front garden with China aster, chrysanthemum, and the most delightful assortment of dahlias, in shades of purple, yellow, and russet.

Grow China aster to attract happy pollinators to your garden. Read our tips now, or Pin It for later:

Be sure to add C. chinensis to your list of late-season bloomers, to enjoy summer’s last hurrah and fall’s jubilant arrival.

For more ideas on introducing color to your garden later in the year, see our article, “Put Some Color into Your Fall Landscaping.”

We enjoy our readers’ feedback. What grows in your late summer garden? Tell us in the comments section below!

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different colors of a china aster in garden settings.

Product photo via True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

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About Nan Schiller

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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