Chrysanthemum: How to Grow Chrysanthemum
I attended a friend’s fall wedding recently and my attention was caught by their beautiful floral arrangement. Wow! Summer blooms in fall. Later on, I found out that the flowers are chrysanthemums.
I love flowers and I know flowers, but chrysanthemum is one flower that never caught my fancy until that day. I decided to learn more about the flower and honestly, was surprised with what I discovered.
The scientific name of Chrysanthemum is the same as its name – chrysanthemum morifolium. Also known as mums or chrysanths, chrysanthemums are from the division Magnoliophyta from the family Asteraceae.
The name chrysanthemum is from the Greek words “chrysos”, which means gold and “anthemon”, which means flower. The flower is originally golden in color and thus Swedish Carolus Linnaeus gave it the name chrysanthemum. Over the years, new colors and hues such as red, purple, and white came out due to efforts of many cultivators.
Chrysanthemum is attributed to many symbolisms. The flower symbolizes deep friendship, trust, loyalty and devotion. Depending on its color, chrysanthemum also symbolizes purity and innocence for white, love and passion for red (not surprised), devotion for pink, sorrow or neglected love for yellow (although some associate this color with friendship), good health for violet.
In some countries, chrysanthemum also has different symbolism:
- In China, it is a symbol of life and vitality.
- In Japan, it is a symbol of royalty.
- In Austria and Belgium, it is a memorial flower. Ironically, the flower is used for weddings as much as it is used to adorn graves.
- In Australia, it is a Mother’s Day flower. Of course, this is because the bloom is also referred to as “mums”.
Facts about Chrysanthemum
If you are wondering about the origins of Chrysanthemum, you can trace it back as far as 15th B.C. in China where it was first cultivated as a “flowering herb”. The Chrysanthemum is one of the four plants referred to as the “Four Gentlemen” or “Four Noble Ones”.
These four flowers – orchid, plum blossom, bamboo and chrysanthemum represent purity, humility, uprightness, and perseverance; virtues valued by Chinese traditions.
Japan was the second to cultivate the flower. They started cultivating chrysanthemum in the early 8th century to the late 12th century in the Nara and Heian periods but it wasn’t until the Edo period that the flower’s popularity soared.
Interesting Facts about Chrysanthemum:
- Did you know that the Chinese celebrate the appreciation of Chrysanthemum during the Double Ninth Festival. Why double ninth? Simple, it is celebrated every ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar year. People spend the day drinking tea and wine made from chrysanthemum and other activities celebrating chrysanthemums.
- Two other countries hold Chrysanthemum Festival celebrations every 9th day of the 9th month – Japan’s Kiku no Sekku and Korea’s Jungyangjeol. It is one of the five most sacred celebrated festivals in Japan.
- In Japan, Chrysanthemum is a symbol of the Imperial Family and the Emperor. In fact, the Japanese Imperial Seal is designed by a two-layer 16 petal design of chrysanthemum.
- Chrysanthemum is rich in vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B9, iron, manganese, copper, Vitamin B6, potassium, calcium, and Vitamin A.
- Chrysanthemum is November’s birth flower.
Chrysanthemums love sunshine. They produce most flower and grow best when they get their fill of sunshine. They also respond well if you feed them well and give them plenty of moisture. Lightly feed your plant with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer every 2 weeks. Space them 18 to 30 inches apart on the flowerbed.
Soil temperature is the detrimental factor during winter. Add about 4 inches of mulch to help keep the soil on an even temperature all winter. You can start doing this once thermostat dips to the 20s and the surface of the soil starts to harden. A loose mulch can increase insulation and lessen compaction of your soil.
To fully understand the size of chrysanthemums, let’s discuss the difference between “florist” and “garden” mums.
The florist mums, usually a species of chrysanthemum indicum, are typically the variety that is sold already cut and in pots. These are the ones you usually find in the local market placed in big boxes.
They are usually bushy and reach about 18 inches tall. Garden mums, on the other hand, are from the species morifolium, also known as hardy mums. They are bred as perennials and produce stolons that help create roots that can survive winter, then regrow in spring.
The average height of chrysanthemums is 1 1/ 2 to 3 feet tall, although there are varieties that grow as tall as 4 feet. It is also wide. This size is indicative of the hardy mum, grown as perennials.
The leaves of a chrysanthemum is flat, thin, small to medium in size, and oval shaped that averages 5 to 10 cm in length. They grow in an alternating pattern, divided into leaflets with the edges serrated.
There are two basic variety of leaves, the broadleaf and the small leaf, but both are green long leaves attached to a fibrous stem. Chrysanthemum leaves are slightly crunchy and tender with a mild, sweet, and grassy flavor. The herbaceous flavor is somewhat like the mustard leaves with a bitter taste.
Chrysanthemums are composites.
What does that mean? The flower head of the chrysanthemum is a cluster of tiny flowers made up of ray florets and disk florets. Are you confused now? Yes, I was confused too at first, but let me explain.
Disk florets are the tiny flowers clustered closely together that it forms a disk-like shape in the middle of the bloom. The ray florets are the flowers on the perimeter of the disk, viewed as petals. This is the most common form of bloom, but the flower forms of the chrysanthemum vary depending on the class.
Types of Chrysanthemum
For ease of identification, the National Chrysanthemum Society has classified 13 flower forms, and here are a few of them.
The single bloom resembles the daisy with its yellow center and white petals. The distinct difference is that chrysanthemums have larger centers with evenly spaced petals around the center. They grow about 2 to 3 feet high with a bushy-like quality. However, there are smaller varieties that never reach a foot high. Some varieties have a petal per stem, while others can grow in clusters on a single-bloom plant.
Varieties of the single bloom include Fire Island, which has red petals with yellow stripes and yellow center; and the Icy Isle, which resembles the white and yellow daisy.
These blooms have tubular, long, ray florets that look like spider legs. The florets are fine or coarse and go off in all directions. They fall in loose mass and appear like they have barbs at the tips. One of its many varieties, the Evening Glow, is rose to bronze in color, while Symphony is bronze to yellow in color.
As the name suggests, this bloom’s florets are spiky and quill-like. The petals resemble a spoon because of its cupped edge. Some of its popular varieties are the large size with lavender petals Lola and the large pink King’s Delight. The quilled blooms are double and have no open center.
The anemone has a central disk and ray florets like the single except that the disk floret is raised, making it look like a pincushion. The Angel variety is eye-catching because of its yellow disk and lavender-colored petals. Anemone can grow as high as 4 inches.
The pompons have a small size, globe-like bloom. It starts as flat when young and turns round as it grows. Its florets are either reflex or incurve in fashion. The flower size ranges from1 to 4 inches. Its popular variety is the moonbeam, which can grow as high as 3 feet.
This is the most common form of bloom for mums. The flowers have flattened shape. The florets are usually short with an incurved upper florets and reflex lower florets. Decorative blooms vary in size and the petals cover the disk. The decorative mums grow 5 inches or taller and are excellent pot plants.
Reflex and Incurve Blooms
The petals of these blooms curve either inward or outward. A good variety of this type is the Goldfield, which is golden yellow in color. There are three types of incurve bloom – Irregular, regular, intermediate, and reflex.
Irregular incurve are the giant blooms that grows 6 to 8 inches in size. The florets curl upward and folds in the center while the lower florets fall in an irregular arrangement to give a skirted look.
The regular incurve is all symmetry and order. The florets form like a ball and the flower size ranges from a diameter of 4 to 6 inches. Moira is an example of this variety.
The intermediate incurve is smaller than the irregular incurve. This variety looks like hybrid cross between irregular and regular incurve. The French variety St. Tropez is an example of intermediate curve.
The reflex has petals that droop away from the center and can have an intermediate incurve.
The reflex mum has over-lapping petals that curve downward and a flat center. It is globe-shaped around 4 to 5 inches wide and usually light to dark orange in color, although other colors are also possible.
Brush or Thistle Chrysanthemums
These blooms have fine tubular petals that grow parallel to the stem and usually grow 2 inches in diameter.
This bloom is identical to semi-double blooms except the petals resemble a spoon at the tip. It has a round and visible center disk, and can grow as high as 4 inches like one of its varieties, the Kimie.
The cushion is bushy and grows low on the ground. It can produce wide masses of medium size blooms.
How to Grow Chrysanthemum
Planting and taking care of baptisias can be rather simple and straightforward, even for beginners. To help you get started on this, I have highlighted in this section the most important things to keep in mind about how to grow this plant:
Chrysanthemums can grow in most soils, but if you want them to really bloom, choose a well-draining soil with regular moisture. Wet, soggy soil can drown the roots while hard, dry soil can keep the roots from establishing, so find a middle ground.
To make a good soil, make sure you have a depth of 8 to 12 inches and mix in 2 to 4 inches of compost. If you want to test the condition of your soil, take a handful of soil and squeeze, then open your hand, the soil should just crumble and not clump or fall apart quickly.
Chrysanthemums have a sunny personality and I mean it literally. They thrive on sunlight, although if we want to be more precise, they only need 6 hours of sunlight daily. The more sunlight they receive, the better bloom, hardiness, and growth.
On hot summer afternoons, put a slight shade on them to keep them from scorching. Once they sense the change in the length of darkness, they start to bud. Using artificial lights can change the bloom time.
Even moisture is necessary for Chrysanthemums. Regular watering all throughout spring, summer, and fall seasons is a must. Once winter sets in, you can suspend watering until spring warms your soil again.
How much water should you give? A depth of 6 to 8 inches during the early morning watering is recommended. Make sure water reaches directly to its base to prevent being trapped in its thick foliage.
Temperature & Humidity
The hardiness of chrysanthemums depends on their specific variety. Most chrysanthemum varieties grow well in hardiness zones 5 to 9. This means in these zones, the plants can survive winter in the ground.
Now, what you may ask is hardiness zone. Hardiness zone is a defined geographic range of climatic condition important to the growth and survival of plants.
If you were planting in warmer climates, another major concern would be heat delay. This means temperature remains high even at nighttime. Heat delay can set your flower growth for 1 to 3 weeks. This also causes other growth issues like erratic flowering, deformation of crowns, irregular forms, etc.
Just like any living thing, plants need nutrients. They need to be fed to help them grow. Fertilizers give your chrysanthemum the added nutrients for best growth. During growth, chrysanthemums feed voraciously. Regular feeding of high quality fertilizers will help them produce more and larger booms.
Primary growth usually takes place in spring and around early summer. You can use a balanced formula of water-soluble fertilizer and apply monthly from early spring to July. For fall mums, fertilization starts in spring.
Chrysanthemums aren’t exactly pruned, more like pinched the entire growing season. When they reach 6 inches tall, just pinch off 1 inch of every shoot. Do this every 2 to 3 weeks until the arrival of early summer. Once it dies, do not cut, and instead let it die a natural death over the winter to produce a much stronger plant.
Cultivators have found several ways of propagating chrysanthemums from pinching, disbudding, staking, etc. It can get overwhelming, so we will just discuss the top three common ways of propagation.
- Root suckers. After flowering, plant them in a partial shaded area and sufficient irrigation. Apply fertilizer to develop root suckers. When the root suckers sprout about 10 to 15 cm high, segregate them. This usually happens February or March. Plant them initially in small pots and transfer them later in big pots.
- Seeds. Breeders usually use this method through artificial crossing to obtain new seeds and plant them to create new variations.
- Cuttings. Cuttings should be done from healthy stock plants from mid to end of June. Shear basal leaves and cut half-open leaves to make 5 to 7 cm cuttings. Plant and enhance rooting by applying fertilizer. Keep in partial shade and water them 4 to 5 times a day. Wait 2 to 3 weeks before transplanting.
Transplanting is usually done when your flowerbed becomes overcrowded or if you want your plant to achieve maximum flowering. When new growth appears, divide them by digging the entire clamp and segregate them. Replant the divided plants immediately in a loose and well-drained soil.
You can also transplant potted plants into the ground. Just choose an area with enough sunlight and space, then dig a hole big and deep enough to fit in the roots of your potted plant.
Chrysanthemum Health Benefits
Surprisingly, chrysanthemum is edible and they can give health benefits to the body. Chrysanthemum is a rich source of riboflavin, thiamine, Vitamins A, C, K, and B6. It has essential minerals like folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, sodium, manganese, phosphorous, and copper. It is a great source of antioxidants, which can prevent disorders and diseases.
Chrysanthemum tea benefits includes:
- Improved digestion
- Improved nerve health
- Lower risk from infection
- Lower blood pressure
- Help heal acne and pimples
- Improved eye health
- Reduced stress and anxiety
The garland mum, which are edible greens usually used as salad or sandwich topping benefits include:
- Weight loss benefit due to cholorogenic acid found in garland mums
- Garland mums are rich in anti-oxidant compounds such as vitamin, flavonoids, and carotenoids
- Provides more potassium than bananas that are beneficial in muscle contraction and movement of nerve impulses.
- According to a 2007 study published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegetables rich in Vitamin A such as garland mums are effective in reducing the risk of lung cancer.
Uses of Chrysanthemum
Did I mention that chrysanthemum is edible? The Chrysanthemum coronarium or garland mum leaves are edible. You can use them as toppings for sandwiches or turn them into salads. You can also add greens as ingredients to soup and other recipes.
The flower of the chrysanthemum is good for making tea. In some areas of East Asia, the flowers of the chrysanthemum morifolium are used to boil tea. The yellow and white colored flowers are usually their preference. They are also added to Chinese soups and dishes to enhance their flavor.
Useful in blood purification, fluid retention, urinary stones, swelling of the feet and cosmetic purposes. It is nutritive, cold, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory in action.
The chrysanthemum tea gives a cooling effect on the body, helps cure headache, sore throat, cough, fever, flu, constipation, dizziness and eye pain. It can also improve alertness.
Chrysanthemum can also be a good natural source of insecticide.
A NASA clean air study shows that chrysanthemum can reduce indoor pollution.
Chrysanthemum can also serve as ornaments and decorative designs on furniture like the throne of the Emperor of Japan.
After this discovery, I’m going to try and brew my own chrysanthemum tea. I am also seriously thinking of trying to use the garland mum leaves for salad.
To be honest, I didn’t think much of the flower when I started researching about it. Like the majority of women, I have a long-standing relationship with roses. For me, there are no other flowers but roses.
Chrysanthemum is a breed on its own. It’s amazing to learn that your everyday mums is not that ordinary. Unbelievably, some of the varieties that I used to think of as daisies and dahlias are actually varieties of chrysanthemum.
Does anyone want to try my chrysanthemum salad?
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to plant chrysanthemum?
Spring is the best time. Yay! Plant them during spring after the last frost of winter. This will help them develop a good root system that will produce healthy plants and good blooms in the future.
Which chrysanthemum species is best to use to make tea?
All flowers of chrysanthemum are edible and used in making tea. Both Chrysanthemum morifolium and chrysanthemum indicum are best for making tea.
Can you eat chrysanthemum leaves?
Yes! However, only one species is edible as greens, the chrysanthemum coronarium, otherwise known as garland mum. Some also call this species crown daisy because of its similarity to daisies. You can eat it as a salad or as toppings for sandwiches. For best flavor, harvest its leaves when young.