Aster China

ASTER, CHINA. Callistephus horténsia, Cass. (Cal lisfephun (Jhinénsis, Nees. Callistemma horlénsis, Cass. Aster Sinénsis. H0rt.). Compdsifle. The genus Callistemma is older than Callistephus, but it is too like Callistemon to stand. B.M. 7616. Gn. 53: 1163.—One of the most popular of all garden annuals, being particu larly valuable for its fall blooming. The evolution of the China Aster suggests that of the chrysanthemum at almost every point, and it is, therefore, a history of remarkable variations. The plant is native to China. It was introduced into Europe about 1731 by R. P. d’lncar ville, a Jesuit missionary in China, for whom the genus lncarvillea of the Bignonia family was named. At that time it was a single flower ; that is, the rays or ligulate florets were of only 2-4 rows. These rays were blue, vio let or white. The center of the flower (or head) was comprised of very numerous tubular, yellowish florets. Philip Miller, the famous gardener-botanist of Chelsea, Eng., received seeds of the single white and red Asters in 1731, evidently from France ; and he received the single blue in 1736. In 1752 he obtained seeds of the double red and blue, and in 1753 of the double white. At that time there appears to have been no dwarf forms, for Miller says that the plants grew 18 in. or 2 ft. high. Martyn, in 1807. says that in addition to these varieties of the cyanic series—shades of blue, red, pink and par ple. The modern evolution of the plant is in the direc tion of habit, and form of flower. Some type varies generally rather suddenly and without apparent cause into some novel form, still retaining its accustomed color. The florist fixes the variation by breeding from the best and most stable plants, and soon other colors appear, until he flnally obtains the entire range of color in the species. So it happens that there are various well marked races or types, each of which has its full and independent range of colors. The Comet type (with very fiat rays), now one of the most deserving of the China Asters, illustrates these statements admirably. The Comet forrn—the loose, open flower with long, strap like rays—appeared upon the market about 1886 or 1887, with a flower of a dull white overlaid with pink. The pink tended to fade out after the flower opened, leaving the color an unwashed white. The rose-colored Comet next appeared, and the blue was introduced in 1890. The first clear white was introduced in America in 1892, coming from Vilmorin, of Paris, and the China Aster had reached its greatest artistic perfection. It is impossible to construct a satisfactory classifica tion of the China Asters. It is no longer practicable to classify the varieties by color. Neither is it feasible to classify them upon habit or stature of plant, for several of the best marked types run into both tall and dwarf forms. Vilmorin, however, still divides the varieties into two groups, the pyramidal growers, and the non pyramidal growers. The most elaborate classification is that proposed by Barron, from a study of exten sive tests made at Chiswick, Eng. Barron has 17 sec tions, but they are not coordinate, and they are really little more than an enumeration of the various types 165. China Aster-—The branching type. or classes. After considerable study of the varieties in the field and herbarium, the following scheme seems to be serviceable : A. Flat-rayed Asters, in which all, or at least more than 5 or 6 rows of rays, are more or less prominently flat and the florets open. B. Incurved or ball-shaped. BB. Spreading or reflexed. AA. Tubular or quilled Asters, in which all. or all but the 2 or 3 outer rows of florets, have prominently tubular corollas. B. Inner florets short, outer ones longer and flat. Repre sented by the German Quilled. BB. All the florets elongated and quilled. In 1895, 250 varieties of Asters were offered by Amer. seedsmen. For growing in borders, perhaps the best type is the Comet, in vari ous colors. Other excellent races are the Branching (Vick'sBranc-hingis shown in Fig. 165), Truffaut (Fig. 166) , known also as Perfec tion and Peony-flowered; Chrysanthemum-flowered; Washington; V i c to ri n , Mignon; and Queen of the Market. The last is com mended for earliness and graceful, open habit, and it is one of the best for cut-flowers. Many other types are valuable for spe cial purposes. The Crown or Cocardeau is odd and attractive. Amongst the quilled Asters, the various strains of German Quilled (Fig. l67),Victoria Needle (Fig. 168), and Lilliput are excellent. The very dwarf tufted Asters are well represented in Dwarf Bou uet or Dwarf German,and hakespeare. All these are easily grown in any good garden soil. For early bloom, seeds may be started under glass; but good fall bloom may be had, even in the North, by sowing seeds in the open as late as the 1st of June. Asters make very showy bedding plants when grown in large masses, and are 166. China Aster TruIfaut' Peony-flowered. ‘-3 also valuable for filling up vacancies in the mixed herbaceous border, where they ought to be planted in clumps, the dwarfer kinds put in front and the taller behind. There are two or three insects which prey upon the China Aster, but they do not appear to be widespread. The most serious difliculty with them is the rust, afungus (Coleonporium Sonchi-arvmsis) which attacks the under side of the leaf and raises an orange-colored pustule. Timely sprays with the copper fungicides will keep this disorder in check. The Bordeaux mixture discolors the plants, and it is, therefore, better to use the ammoniacal carbonate of copper. Spray it upon the plants before the fungus appears, and repeat every week or ten days. Use a cyclone nozzle and spray upwards, so as to strike the under sides of the leaves. L, H_ B, In recent years, the Branching Asters have come to be prominent, and they are bound to increase in popularity as their merits become known. The long stem, large size, and soft shades of pink and lavender have made this the most useful to the florist of all the Asters. The Comet has been rather short-stemmed for a com mercial cut-flower. As to culture, it does not seem to be generally understood, even by florists, thatthe young Aster plants will stand more frost than cabbage. If started under glass about the middle of February, in New York state, they will be ready to plant out the latter part of April or first of May. They will then come in at about the some time they would if grown entirely under glass, although not so long-stemmed. For full flowers, we sow out-of-doors with seed drill and culti vate with wheel hoe. I have had plants ruined by being planted near squashes. The late brood of striped beetles fed on the Aster flowers. Gaoaoe ARNOLD, JR. ASTER The first requisite to the growing of China Asters is to have good, plump seed. As soon as the ground is in good or fair condition in spring, spade up a seed-bed 167. China Ante-r— German Qullied. where the ground is rich, and rake it fine. Then make shallow drills about an inch deep; whiten the drills with air-slaked lime,to keep worms and insects from eating the young roots. Sow the seed in the drills, cov ering about %in. deep with fine dirt run through a sieve of %in. mesh. When plants are about an inch high, draw good, fine dirt to the roots, so that the seed-bed is nearly level and alltheweeds are covered. The plant! are hurdier and better when grown in the open ground than when started under glass. For the permanent quarters, plow ground that has been well and heavily manured with cow-manure the previous season ; then barrow thor oughly. Scatter 20 to 30 bushels of common lime to the acre, if thought necessary, then plow again and harrow well. With aone-horse plow make furrows the length of the field about 3 or 4 inches deep and 2'/, feet apart. In these furrows one man drops the plants in two rows about 12 or 16 in. apart, for two men to plant. Do not furrow much ahead of the planters, so that they have fresh dirt to put to the roots of the plants. By this method the plants seldom wilt. If a dry spell follows in three or four days, level the furrow with a hoe; it wet, let stand for about two weeks, then scatter 100 pounds of guano or other fertilizer to the acre, and work the land with a spike-tooth cultivator, with no shovels, so that no dirt is thrown on the small plants. Hand-hoe 115 between the plants, running horse and cultivator twice in each row. The cultivator loosens the ground as deep as it was plowed. Cultivate and hoe every two weeks, especially after it has rained, until buds appear; then keep clean by hand. When blooms begin to appear, mulch liberally with tobacco stems, to keep down weeds and to kill aphis at the roots. When the fls. begin to open, keep a strict watch for the black beetle. When it makes its appearance, put about a pint of Water and a gill of benzine in an old can and hold it under the bugs; they drop into it. These pests last from six to nine days. Have them looked after three times a day’ Jsuns Sauna.mentioned by Miller, there had then appeared a “varie gated blue and white"variety. The species was well known to American gardeners at the o ening of this cen tury. In 1806 M’Mahon, of Philadelp ia, mentioned the “China Aster (in sorts)" as one of the desirable garden annuals. Bridgeman, a New York seedsman, ofl'ered the China and German Asters in 1837 “in numerous and splendid varieties," specifying varieties “alba, rubra, 113 cerulea, striata purpurea, etc." In 1845, Eley said that " China and herman Asters " " are very numerous "in New England. This name German Aster records the fact that the first great advances in the evolution of the plant were made in Germany, and the seed which we now use comes largely from that country. The first marked de parture from the type appears to have been the pro longation or great development of the central florets of the head, and the production of the “quilled" flower. This type of Aster was very popular 40 and 50 years ago. Breck, in the first edition of his Flower Garden. in 1851. speaks of the great improvement of the Aster “within a ASTER 164. Aster puniceus. few years” "by the German florists, and others," and adds that "the full-quilled varieties are the most highly esteemed, having a hemispherical shape, either a pure white, clear blue, purple, rose, or deep red ; or beauti fully mottled, striped, or edged with those colors, or having a red or blue center." About 50 years ago the habit of the plant had begun to v considerably, and the progenitors of our modern dwa races began to at tract attention. The quilled, high-centered flower of a generation or more ago is too stiff to satisfy the tastes of these later days, and the many flat-rayed, loose and iiuify races are now most in den1and,and their pu larity is usually greater the nearer they approac the form of the uncombed chrysanthemums. The China Aster had long since varied into a wide range of colors