A popular choice for everything from fine china to tattoos, chrysanthemums are a firm favorite. Their dozens of delicate petals, beautiful composition and the wide variety of sizes and colours they come in are a real treat.
If you love everything about these flowers, why not grow them in your garden?
While some varieties can be tricky to grow, the time and patience it takes are all worthwhile. Especially when they finally bloom, and your garden becomes a sea of colour.
These flowers can be both annual and perennial as a result of hardier versions of the species. Hardy mums (as they’re nicknamed) can survive more extreme conditions and will return year after year. If you don’t know what you bought, you’ll have to wait until the next year to see if they return!
Keen to learn more? Keep reading…
What is a Chrysanthemum?
Chrysanthemums belong to the Compositae family. Many varieties exist in various sizes, shapes, and colours. They were first grown in China over 600 years ago as a type of daisy and herb, and people ate the leaves and roots. The plants then migrated to Japan a couple of hundred years later and spread from there.
The flowers appear to have a lot of tiny petals, however, they’re actually a small collection of florets that come in two varieties. The first is ray florets, which is the traditional chrysanthemum that appears to have many tiny petals. The second is disc florets, where the petals group around centre buttons and form a mum bloom.
How to Grow Chrysanthemum
To successfully grow chrysanthemum, you need to know which flowers are suitable for your environment. Most florists and nurseries sell beautiful chrysanthemum; however, these will not survive in your garden as their root system is limited, so you’ll need to look after it in its pot.
It’s more than likely that your nursery or garden centre will stock more than just the potted variety; you’ll be able to find plants ranging from dwarf to giant. They’re also available in a wide range of colours that can include white, yellow, purple, and burgundy.
When to Plant Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum generally blooms towards the end of summer as they prefer to avoid the extreme heat. Established plants will be able to survive the winter months and bloom again the following year.
Where to Plant Chrysanthemum
You need to plant the flowers in soil with proper drainage, but they are adaptable to most soil types. While they prefer the sun, too much heat is best avoided. The flower also needs to be protected from the wind.
How to Plant Chrysanthemum
Fertilizer must be added to the soil in the spring to facilitate plant growth. The plants also need space, so must be planted far enough apart to allow for proper air circulation.
Chrysanthemums can thrive and grow in just about all conditions, provided that you’re able to properly care for the plant. Mulch can protect the soil and prevent freezing, which means that in some cases, the hardier plants will continue to thrive.
How to Care for Chrysanthemum
When it comes to caring for your chrysanthemum, the best technique to practice is pinching. When the plant grows to around 15 centimetres high, pinch them by removing the stem found above the second layer of leaves. This ensures the flower grows downwards and prevents premature blooming. This practice needs to continue throughout the season. The offcuts can grow additional chrysanthemums.
What Does the Chrysanthemum Flower Mean?
The name chrysanthemum derives from the Greek word for gold, chrysos, and anthemon meaning flower. The same can be said for the Chinese and Japanese translation of the flower’s name, which also means gold flower.
The flower symbolises a few things, namely:
- The change of seasons – the plant belongs to the group known as Four Gentlemen of China, which symbolises the changing of seasons
- It has been used to decorate gravesites and is often seen as a symbol of death
- The bloom is also the official November birth flower. In this context, they symbolise well wishes, bringing joy, good luck and happiness into the home. If you’re not born in November, find out what your birth month flower is here.
Are chrysanthemums easy to grow?
Yes, they’re one of the easiest flowers to grow. However, if you’re looking to grow showstopper flowers, it can become a tricky process.
Do chrysanthemums grow back each year?
With the correct care in winter, i.e., a mulch layer to protect the soil from freezing, chrysanthemums will return year after year.
How long do mums last after they bloom?
Depending on the conditions in your area and garden, mums can last up to three weeks.
Will chrysanthemums survive winter?
Chrysanthemums can survive the winter when properly cared for.
Are chrysanthemums poisonous to humans?
They’re generally not dangerous but can cause skin irritation. If you haven’t reacted before, then you’re probably not susceptible to the irritant. However, if you do feel any kind of reaction, steer clear of these blooms.
What do you do with dead chrysanthemums?
Once the mum’s foliage has died it will need to be cut back to around 10 centimetres above the ground. By leaving a bit of the stem, it will ensure that the plant returns in the following season.
How cold is too cold for mums?
Mums are hardy plants and can survive cold temperatures of around -7°C.
Can you eat chrysanthemum leaves?
Yes, it’s a common menu item in China where the fresh, young leaves are served in salads. When serving, try to avoid wide stalks. The wider the stalk, the more bitter they taste. If you’re getting the leaves from a local store, they’ll probably taste better cooked. It’s recommended that you lightly steam them while maintaining a slight crunch.
Do chrysanthemums repel mosquitoes?
Yes, chrysanthemums contain pyrethrum, a natural chemical that is known to have a neurotoxic effect on insects, including mosquitos. The active ingredient in pyrethrum is pyrethrin, which can function as an insect repellent and insecticide. Commercial insecticides often make use of these chemicals.
Are Chrysanthemums Perennials?
Once the plant has established itself, it will return year after year. You’ll need to ensure that the soil is properly cared for in winter to ensure they’re able to survive the cold. There are hardier versions that can grow throughout the year.
A gorgeous flower with various meanings, chrysanthemums have their own language, and make for a wonderful addition to your garden, in the ground or a pot.