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Aster (china)

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Aster “China” also known as Callistepus & Michaelmas Daisy
Half Hardy Annual
Nine inches to two feet.
Flowers of many colours in August and September.

aster

The Aster, by its variety of colour and habit, and its flowering rather late in the season, is one of the most useful annuals. In seed catalogues some thirty or forty different kinds may be found, but for practical purposes they may be classed under four or five heads: the Victoria, with reflexed flowers; the Pæony-flowered, with incurved petals; the Globe or Quilled; and the Dwarf section. Recent sub-divisions of these are the Japanese or Comet, with petals resembling those of a Japanese Chrysanthemum, and the Crown or Cockade, with a white centre bordered with colour. For bedding, the dwarfs give the least trouble, as they are self-supporting; the taller sorts have more effective flowers, but their more straggling growth is sure to demand sticks and ties before they are fully blown. It is one sad defect of all Asters that the thick-petalled, upturned face of the flower is over-loaded by every shower of rain, and one wet and blowing night will wreck a whole bed beyond repair. The range of colour includes white, several shades of blush and lilac, light and dark blue (as the catalogues call it) – really a hyacinthine purple – yellowish white, pink and rose, and two or three shades of crimson, one, at least, a very poor bricky colour to begin with, and after a few days’ weather positively offensive.
The tribe is a healthy one, but is often affected after being planted out with a blight or curl in the leaves, which disfigures and no doubt checks the growth of the plants, but does not seem ultimately to affect their flowering.
Asters should be sown in boxes of light soil, a mixture of old leaf-mould, old turf and road-scrapings, and garden mould (say a fourth of each), with a dash of wood-ashes, and enough sharp sand to keep the whole open.
Drain the boxes with pieces of crock, and lay moss and half-rotted leaves over the latter. Cover the seed lightly with fine, sandy soil, water gently, and place in a frame with a temperature kept as near 55° as possible.

This should be about the middle of March; when the seedlings are large enough to handle prick them out in other boxes or on a bed of light soil under glass; by attention to ventilation and bottling up the sun’s rays at proper times, a “cold” frame will do very well to grow on the asters and other annuals sown about the same time.
Keep the boxes and the soil in frames clear of weeds, and scratch it over occasionally to discourage the formation of green mould on the surface.
About the third week in May, when the asters are sufficiently hardened by exposure to the open air, they may be planted out. It is worth while to take a little extra pains with the trowel, and transfer them with as much earth on the roots as can be retained; a good watering of the boxes or nursery beds an hour or two before the operation will make this easier.
The beds in which the asters are to flower should be light and rich, but must on no account contain fresh or rank manure.
If, as is usually their fate, the Asters have to follow the spring bedders which are just cleared off, an effort must be made to refresh and replenish the more or less exhausted soil.

Leaf-mould, old hot-bed manure and plenty of wood-ashes should be worked into the ground, and as long an interval of rest as is practicable given between the two tenancies. If there is not a good soaking rain before it is time to replant, the beds must be thoroughly watered and allowed to settle.

Those who have not the convenience of a hot-bed or greenhouse may raise excellent Asters by sowing in April under some sort of protection – a cold frame, a hand-light, a bell-glass or even an old window-sash on a rough wooden framing.

An excellent shelter for forwarding seeds or plants may be made by digging out a shallow pit in a sunny position, banking up the excavated soil into a sort of parapet, and with a few stumps driven into the ground and boards nailed to them, forming a rough support for a garden light or old sash.

It is possible, by sowing later still, to have Asters without any shelter at all. Make up a piece of light rich soil, sunny but not droughty, and early in May sow thinly in shallow drills about nine inches apart, covering the seed with a little light compost or potting soil.

In a fair season one may by this plan get remarkably fine flowers late in the season. Of course, no time should be thinned out to six or eight inches apart and left to flower where they were sown

See Also : Michaelmas Daisy.

  Buy Aster 'Little Carlow' (cordifolius hybrid)
Buy Aster divaricatus (white wood aster)
Buy Aster novae-angliae 'Harrington's Pink' (Michaelmas daisy)
Buy Aster novae-angliae 'Violetta' (New England Aster)
Buy Aster novi-belgii 'Barbados' (Island Series) New York aster
Buy Aster novi-belgii 'Patricia Ballard' (Michaelmas daisy)
Buy Aster novi-belgii 'Purple Dome' New York aster
Buy Aster novi-belgii 'White Ladies' (Michaelmas daisy)
Buy Aster x herveyi syn -macrophyllus Twilight
Buy Aster × frikartii 'Mönch' (Michaelmas daisy)
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