Types of asters: 15 beautiful varieties to grow for stunning summer blooms

Popular once again, these bright and cheery types of asters are perfect for growing in a cutting garden

Beautiful purple pink types of asters in flowerbed
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The surge of interest in growing cut flowers means lots of different types of asters are increasing in popularity once more. Easy to grow and capable of flowering for long periods, they are perfect for a cutting garden. What's more, seed companies are listing some gorgeous selections for vase and garden.  

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, my father would spare a few rows of his allotment-style kitchen garden to grow flowers for cutting. There were gladioli, dahlias and what we called asters, but are really China asters from the genus callistephus. A seed packet of mixed colors sown direct to soil in late spring yielded many bunches of chrysanthemum-like flowers in bright pink, purple, white and yellow. 

Somewhere along the line these half hardy annuals fell from favor but now those with brighter colors chime with a revival of 1960s and 1970s interior design and the more romantic, pastel shades are popular for borders, containers and wedding cut flowers. 

If you're interested in learning how to grow asters, brightly colored mixtures are readily available, offering short plants for tight spaces or taller ones whose longer stems are ideal for cutting. To attract pollinating insects, seek out types of asters with open-centered flowers, such as’ Lazy Daisy Mixed’ and ‘Matsumoto Mixed’.

15 types of asters to grow in borders, containers and for cut flowers

There are plenty of good varieties to choose from for your flower bed ideas, but single colors sometimes need some tracking down from specialist seed suppliers. 

Many types of asters stand at around 2ft (60cm) tall with small or large, single or double blooms opening from mid-summer to the first frosts. 

We've rounded up some of our favorite varieties for you to grow in your plot. 

1. ‘Apricot Duchess’ 

China aster ‘Apricot Duchess’

‘Apricot Duchess’ 

(Image credit: Chiltern seeds)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 30in (75cm) 
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

Asters are a brilliant option if you're interested in growing flowers from seeds, and this variety would be a stunning addition to any planting scheme. 

The Duchess Series deliver tall asters with fully double, incurved blooms resembling chrysanthemums which grow up to 30in (76cm) in height. This beauty bears promising cream buds opening to flowers of soft apricot pink. 

In borders, a cutting garden, or containers, arrange with deep red Nicotiana ‘Babybella’ whose tall stems bear multi-headed flowers. Or try nemesias from the Karoo Series in white, pink and purple. 

2. ‘Blackberry Surprise’

Aster Blackberry Surprise

'Blackberry Surprise' 

(Image credit: plantsofdistinction.co.uk)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 30-36in (75-90cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

Where dark purple is required, these double and semi-double blooms reaching to 3in (8cm) across add drama to garden borders, pots or vases. 

As with all asters, there is variety of tone and young blooms, central petals and fading edges tend towards pink. 

Pair with the large blooms of Callistephus ‘Strawberry Crush’ and the lacy white umbels of annual Ammi visnaga. 

3. ‘Duchess Blue Ice’

China aster ‘Duchess Blue Ice’

‘Duchess Blue Ice’

(Image credit: Mr Fothergills)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 24in (60cm) 
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

This is one of my favorite types of asters thanks to the unusual glacier shade of its flowers. Fully double and pure white, the incurving petals are tipped with icy blue especially around the outside. 

Staying with a chilly theme, partner with certain types of cosmos such as Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Double Click Snow Puff’ or warm things up with stands of golden Rudbackia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ or perennial R.fulgida ‘Goldsturm’. 

4. ‘Duchesse Coral Rose’

China aster 'Duchesse Coral Rose'

'Duchesse Coral Rose'

(Image credit: Chiltern Seeds)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 30in (75cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

Incurved heads of raspberry petals sit atop strong, straight stems and stand well in a border, garden planter or vase. 

For contrast, grow with the double, sapphire blue flowers of slightly shorter Callistephus ‘Lady Coral Dark Blue’ or for a different flower shape, aromatic spires of the Mexican hyssop Agastache ‘Astello Indigo’. 

5. ‘Hulk’

China aster 'Hulk'


(Image credit: Chiltern Seeds)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

This aster produces strange blooms where the usual excitement of colorful petals is missing. Instead, we have a yellow and pale green circular raft of disc florets floating in a ruff-like collar of bright green bracts. 

These green flowers last for a long time in a vase and are sure to please flower arrangers. Unusual Cuphea lanceolata ‘Purple Passion’ would offer contrasts of color and form. 

6. ‘King Size Appleblossom’

China aster ‘King Size Appleblossom’

‘King Size Appleblossom’

(Image credit: Mr Fothergills)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 3ft (1m)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

Double blooms are a confection of palest pink and cool purple, fading to cream at the center. Held on strong stems they are the perfect choice for anyone searching for the best cutting garden flowers. Pick flowers regularly to help the plants make even more flower buds. 

Grow them with perennial tall-stemmed, purple-flowered Verbena bonariensis or for branching flower spikes, V.hastata ‘Blue Spires’. 

7. ‘Lady Coral Lavender’

China aster ‘Lady Coral Lavender’

‘Lady Coral Lavender’

(Image credit: Plantsofdistinction.co.uk)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

The Lady Coral Series delivers some splendidly over-the-top flower heads compared to other aster varieties, measuring 3in (8cm) across and reminding me of the crazy rounded feather hats worn during the 1960s. 

These are tall plants with incurved petals encircling flatter centers and in this case the petals are a silvery lavender. Combine them with the lacy white flowers of Orlaya grandiflora which is at similar height of 2ft (60cm). 

8. ‘Lady Coral Salmon’

China aster 'Lady Coral Salmon'

'Lady Coral Salmon'

(Image credit: Plantsofdistinction.co.uk)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 30in (75cm
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

Expect a glorious show of peachy petals from large, double blooms. Flowering from summer through to the first frosts, aster varieties are gaining favor for their flower power in borders, containers and vases. 

To partner these coral blooms, consider adding the dense maroon oval heads of perennial burnet Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Tanna’ or tissue paper flowers of Californian poppy ‘Red Chief’ to your garden color scheme

9. ‘Lady Coral Dark Blue’

China aster ‘Lady Coral Dark Blue’

‘Lady Coral Dark Blue’

(Image credit: plantsofdistinction.co.uk)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

The deep blue fully double heads with slightly paler centres are, like others in the Lady Coral Series, 3in (8cm) in diameter and are perfect for offsetting most other aster shades in borders or vases. 

Partner with the fragrant flower-packed tails of dwarf Buddleja davidii Buzz Lavender or Buzz Ivory and pale primrose blooms of cosmos annual variety Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Xanthos’. 

10. ‘Lilliput Blue Moon’

Callistephus chinensis 'Lilliput Blue Moon' (China aster) Close up of white purple and yellow flower.

'Lilliput Blue Moon'

(Image credit: Christopher Burrows / Alamy Stock Photo)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 18in (45cm)
  • Spread: 12in (30cm)

Where asters are needed for bright flowers and rich green foliage in narrow borders and tight corners, shorter-growing cultivars are perfect. 

Here, flattish double and semi-double heads of quilled petals open purple with a halo of pale lavender, like a pool full of sea anemones. 

Grow alongside Rosa Flower Carpet White or with spreading, perennial pale lilac Verbena rigida f.lilacina ‘Polaris’. 

11. ‘Limoncello’

China aster ‘Limoncello’


(Image credit: plantsofdistinction.co.uk)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 2ft (60cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

Yellow flowers each sit in a collar of green bracts and open to large, domed fully double blooms held on strong stems. Packed densely with soft lemon-yellow petals, they stand out in borders or containers and last for two weeks in a vase. 

Team with purple-flowered Osteospermum Serenity Dark Purple or Geum chiloense ‘Red Dragon’. 

12. ‘Matsumoto Rose’

China aster ‘Matsumoto Rose’

‘Matsumoto Rose’

(Image credit: Chiltern Seeds)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 30in (75cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

These smaller blooms of Matsumoto asters unfold to reveal yellow centers. Here, rich pink will contrast well with the dainty heads of seed-raised Achillea Summer Pastels Group. 

Yet I also lust after ‘Matsumoto Scarlet’ whose dazzling petals surrounding yellow centres remind me of red rosettes. The fact that seeds are hard to locate only makes it more alluring. 

13. ‘Phantom of The Opera’

China aster ‘Phantom Of The Opera'

‘Phantom Of The Opera'

(Image credit: plantsofdistinction.co.uk)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 30in (75cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

Fully double flowers resembling white chrysanthemums could take their place in a themed white flower border. Regular cutting for vases is like early deadheading and there will always be fresh white blooms opening against the rich green foliage. 

Choose white-flowered companions with varying shapes and textures such as fluttering Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Sonata White’ and perhaps green bells of Ireland Moluccella laevis

14. ‘Thousand Wonder Salmon Rose’

China aster ‘Thousand Wonder Salmon Rose’

‘Thousand Wonder Salmon Rose’ 

(Image credit: Chiltern Seeds)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 8in (20cm)
  • Spread: 8in (20cm)

Perfect for your window box ideas and other containers, this dwarf-growing aster produces masses of double pom-pom blooms in a warm pink. 

Plant with Brachyscombe angustifolia Brasco Violet whose dainty lilac-blue daisies with yellow centres open prolifically against mounds of delicate ferny foliage. Unusual Isotoma ‘Indigo Stars’ bears small, lightly fragrant blooms and will not overpower the asters. 

15. ‘Tower Chamois’

China aster ‘Tower Chamois’

‘Tower Chamois’ 

(Image credit: Sarahraven.com / © Jonathan Buckley)
  • Hardiness: USDA 2-11
  • Height: 30in (75cm)
  • Spread: 18in (45cm)

There is a rosy glow to the 4in (20cm) wide peony-style flowers of this magnificent aster. Incurved petals are a warm peach and though wide, the flowers are more chrysanthemum than peony-like and make sumptuous cut flower. 

I would plant amongst them seed-raised Penstemon ‘Arabesque Mixed’ for their tubular flowers in a variety of pink, purple and white shades. 

How can I harvest the best blooms from my favorite types of asters?

For quality blooms, raise large plants in a sheltered site, good well-drained soil types (or potting compost) and sun. 

Most importantly, give plants space to develop. You can get away with tighter spacings for a block of color but for cutting, aim for 9-12in (23-30cm). Taller kinds will need supporting with canes and string or netting. 

Watering plants during droughts is essential, and give them an occasional high potash liquid feed too. Pick flowers regularly, leaving developing buds behind, and once in the vase, keep cool, out of full sun and change the water regularly. 

Aster flowers in garden. Beautiful purple pink Asters Callistephus chinensis on flowerbed.

Who can resist the bushy, cheery flowers of asters - popular once again and great for cutting

(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus)

What are the best types of asters?

Although I’d happily grow mixtures in the kitchen garden, I’d rather see single colors in borders and containers. ‘Duchess Blue Ice’, ‘King Size Apricot’ and ‘Limoncello’ stand out for me. Yet I love the slender, quilled petals of ‘Valkyrie Brunhilde Chamois’ 

There are two mixtures I’d love to get my hands on but they are hard to find. One is ‘Tiger Paw Pavlova Mixed’, whose fine petals in gorgeous colors make swirling patterns in large but elegant heads. The other is ‘Unicum Mixed’ known as spider aster for needle-like petals in bold and soft shades.  

Where to buy asters

There is much to love about these beautiful asters from the daisy tribe. Flowers large and small, tightly formed or full of long, elegant petals open in bright, jewel-like or soft shades perfect for the garden and cutting.

Follow our quick links to head straight to leading retailers. 

Where to buy asters seeds in the US:

Where to buy aster seeds in the UK:

Anne Swithinbank
Freelance writer

Having trained at Kew Gardens in London, worked in parks department nurseries and as Glasshouse Supervisor at RHS Wisley, Anne has been a freelance horticulturist since 1986. Anne writes for Amateur Gardening and has been a regular panelist on BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time for 27 years. A large plot full of wildlife habitats, edible and ornamental plants is Anne’s workshop and inspiration.