This summer-blooming Chinese native is a splendid cut flower and an effective bedding plant when well grown and free of disease. Plants range from 8 in. to 3 ft. high, 1018 in. wide. Some kinds are branching; others (developed mainly for florists) have strong stems and no side shoots. Leaves are deeply toothed or lobed.
Flower forms are classified as peony, pompon, anemone, and ostrich feather. Rays can be quilled, curled, incurved, ribbonlike, or interlaced; some have crested centers. Colors range from white to pastel pink, rose-pink, lavender, lavender-blue, violet, purple, crimson, wine, and scarlet.
Plant in rich, moist, well-drained soil. After danger of frost is past, sow seed in place, or set out plants started in flats. Keep growth steady; sudden checks in growth are harmful. Subject to aster yellows, a viral disease carried by leafhoppers. Discard infected plants; control leafhoppers. All but wilt-resistant types are subject to aster wilt or stem rot, caused by a parasitic fungus that lives in soil and is transmitted through roots into plants. Overwatering produces an ideal environment for diseases, especially in heavy or poorly drained soil. Never plant in the same location in successive years.