CALLISTEPHUS or ANNUAL ASTER
Good Culture Is Needed to Produce Fine Flowers
(Calli'stephus; Callist 'phus). A favorite annual which is in full beauty in August and September. It is represented by numerous beautiful single and dou hie-flowered varieties of varied form and attractive coloring which are descended from the China Aster, Callistephus sinensis, which was introduced to western gardens 200 years ago, a nd in its improved varieties is still a popular flower. Callistephus belongs to the Daisy family, Compositae; the word is derived from lwllistos, most beautiful, and stephos, a crown, referring to the appendages of the fruit (seed).
The annual Asters are grand flowers for sum
mer and early autumn; at that time of the year they are invaluable in the garden and most use ful for cutting for decorative purposes indoors. They succeed best when nights are reasonably cool; they will not grow and bloom in very hot humid weather.
When to Sow Seeds. These plants are raised
from seeds sown from the middle to the end of March in a slightly heated greenhouse or frame; a temperature of 50 degrees is high enough. The seed should be sown thinly. If covered with glass and brown paper the seeds germinate in ten
days to two weeks.
Careful Watering Necessary. As soon as the seedlings show through the soil, the glass and paper coverings must be removed and the seed lings exposed fully to the light. Very careful watering is necessary; if the soi l is excessively wet the little plants will probably perish. They must also be kept perfectly cool.
When to Plant Out of Doors. When the seed
lings are an inch or so high they should be trans planted 2 in. apart in flats, 4 in. deep, filled with 4 compost of sandy loam passed through a coarse sieve; it is helpful to place a layer of thor oughly decayed manure at the bottom of the flat. When the plants are growing freely they should be placed in a cold frame and planted out of doors after all danger of frost is past, from
9-12 in. apart according to variety.
Sowing Seeds Out of Doors. Annual Asters may be sown out of doors, where they are to grow, as soon in spring as the soil is dry enough to work. If the seedlings are thinned to give them full room for development they will make good prog ress and will bloom somewhat later than plants obtained from early indoor sowings.
For Bloom in the Greenhouse. From sowings made indoors from September to February a succession of flowering plants may be had in a cool (50 degrees night temperature) greenhouse. They may be grown in pots or benches. Full sun and a rich porous soil are necessary. They flower during late winter and spring from fall and winter sowings.
The chief types are Ostrich Plume, 18 in. high, very graceful, of branching growth with large feathery blooms; Giant Comet, 15-18 in., somewhat similar to the Ostrich Plume Aster, of branching growth and even greater variety of coloring, which includes pale yellow; Peony-flowered, 2 ft. high, branching growth, large incurving blooms; California Giant, strong growing, 2-3 ft., very large blooms of Ostrich Plume type; and the dwarf Chrysanthemum-flowered, Miniature Pompon, and Lilliput strains, popular for bedding schemes. The single-flowered annual Asters are very valuable for cutting, particularly the large-flowered Southcote Beauty strain.
Wilt-resistant seed strains should be used where Aster wilt disease is prevalent.