Spring is the Time to Select Your Chrysanthemums
By Penny Ossowski
What are your first memories of chrysanthemums? I have two, the first of the beautiful golden yellow one Mum always grew and the second of coming home from Sunday School on Mother's Day with a white chrysanthemum flower for Mum. Now I just love having a few growing in the garden or a flowering one in a pot sitting in the middle of the table, a living, long lasting bouquet of flowers. This is the time of year when chrysanthemums flower naturally, when the days begin to shorten. Find the chrysanthemums which have your favourite flowers, buy them now if potted or note where they are so you can take cuttings when they finish flowering (ask the owner before you take them of course).
What we call a chrysanthemum, chrysanthemum morifolium, commonly referred to as Mums or Chrissies are an easy to grow perennial, native to Asia. The name
Chrysanthemum comes from the greek word 'chrysos' meaning gold and 'anthemon' meaning flower, the original chrysanthemums were yellow. Now the chrysanthemum comes in almost every colour from white to yellow to red and every colour in between and beyond, single and multi colours. The shape and size of flowers can be single or double, buttons, pompoms, spidery, large or small many are grown for cut flowers and many magnificent specimens for competitions. There are hundreds of different varieties which fall into 2 main groups, garden and exhibition.
Chrysanthemums can be grown in pots or garden beds, they need well drained fertile soil in a sunny position. They don't mind some protection from the hot western sun in the afternoon.
Chrysanthemums can be grown from seed, cuttings, root division or as a potted specimen purchased at a nursery. Root division is the easiest way. When new shoots appear at the end of winter lift the clump, divide with a sharp blade and replant as quickly as possible, watering in with a weak seaweed solution. Cuttings can be taken at most times of the year, cut a branch/stalk about 15cm long, remove the leaves from the lower half, dip into honey or rooting powder, plant into damp coarse river sand, cover with a glass jar or plastic film over a frame in a warm spot until it forms roots, then plant out into a pot or the garden. Plant seeds into seedling trays in spring and plant out into garden or pots when 7 - 10 cm tall.
When new plants start growing water well in hot dry weather, liquid fertilize or foliar spray every few weeks. When plants are about 15cm tall prune the top 2cm off the tips and repeat when they are about 30cm tall. This will make your plants bushier with more tips on which to produce flowers. Stop fertilizing when the first buds are formed. When flowers start opening pick regularly to encourage more flowers. I've found very few pest or disease problems with my chrysanthemums but they don't like wet feet, it can kill them.
With potted chrysanthemums put outside 50% of the time (one week in then one week out), in the sunshine to make them last longer. After my potted chrysanthemums finish flowering, I remove old flowers and then either sit them in amongst other plants in the garden until next year or plant them into the garden.
Some interesting chrysanthemum facts
· Chrysanthemum morifolium are boiled to make chrysanthemum tea in some parts of China
· In Korea rice wine is flavoured with chrysanthemum flowers
· In Japan it is a symbol of happiness and longevity
· The chrysanthemum flower symbolizes fidelity, optimism, joy and long life.
· A red chrysanthemum conveys love
· A white chrysanthemum symbolizes truth and loyal love
· A yellow chrysanthemum symbolizes slighted love
· The chrysanthemum was brought to Japan by Buddhist monks in AD 400
· Many Japanese cities still hold spectacular annual chrysanthemum exhibitions
· Chrysanthemum leaves are steamed or boiled and used as greens, especially in Chinese cuisine
There are many other members of the chrysanthemum family some of which we know under other names
· Chrysanthemum coronarium - edible chrysanthemum, also used medicinally
· Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium - pyrethrum, insecticide
· Chrysanthemum maximum - commonly called Shasta Daisy
· Chrysanthemum parthenium - aka Fever Few
All these Chrysantemum varieties are available in small or larger seed packets from Eden Seeds online store.