Chrysanthemums | The History

Chrysanthemums have a strong link with Eastern culture as they were originally cultivated in China. There is even a city in China named after it called Chu-Hsien or translated to Chrysanthemum City. Legend says that the flower possessed the power of life.

The Chrysanthemum made its way to Japan in about the eighth century AD and they too became besotted by the flower with the Emperor using the Chrysanthemum as his crest and official seal and in fact today many prominent Japanese families also use the Chrysanthemum in this way.  The Chrysanthemum is also celebrated in a sacred festival in Japan, so it revered to this day.

Chrysanthemum | George Griffiths 

Into the 17th century the flower was introduced to the Western world and today it has become very popular again with many older vintage varieties making their way back into favour.

In the autumn garden, Chrysanthemums are a star performer that bloom prolifically long after other plants have called it quits for the season. The name “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek words for gold (chrysos) and flower (anthos) and is often affectionately shortened to “mum.”  These are plants that you do not tend to find a lot of these days but they are becoming extremely popular all over again and really are a flower from yesteryear.

Chrysanthemum | Apricot Courtier

Puriri Lane | Chrysanthemum | Peach

We love Chrysanthemums here at Puriri Lane @ Addenbrooke as they make such an excellent cut flower and last well in the vase.  We have added some tips on growing Chrysanthemums below and explain some of the terminology used such as dis-budding to help you get the best from your plants particularly if you are wanting to include these in your cut flower garden... which we think is a must, but try stopping at just one!

Chrysanthemum | Kokka Shaku

Puriri Lane | Chrysanthemum | Kokka Shaku 

You can see the varieties that we sell here and plants are generally of a saleable size by the end of October

Growing Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions and some smaller varieties can also be grown in pots.   Avoiding poorly drained or over saturated soils through winter is recommended for young plants and these may be over wintered in pots before being planted out in spring.  Chrysanthemums will be largely dormant over winter with little growth of shoots until spring.  Plants prefer full sun, however because many types grow tall, some protection from wind is recommended. Apply general purpose fertiliser in spring and again pre flowering in late summer. Protect from slugs and snails during wet weather as young plants are particularly prone to attack.    General garden sprays can be used for insect pests such as aphids which may appear in spring, avoid spraying the tops of the plants once the flower buds have formed.

Chrysanthemum | Bev's Pink

Puriri Lane Chrysanthemum | Bev's Pink 

Chrysanthemums types are either early/summer flowering (buds forming from October onwards) or, more commonly, autumn flowering (flowering is initiated under decreasing day length which is from around end of February).   Remove any flower buds that form before the plants are at least 60 cm tall as these blooms will not reach the large size of those produced on mature plants.  Taller types will require staking in spring to support stems and flowers as heights range from 70cm and up to around 1.6m meters in height.

 Chrysanthemum | Diana Stokes

Puriri Lane | Chrysanthemum | Diana Stokes 

Stopping and disbudding

Stopping is the removal of the growing tip by pinching out, this helps keep the plant more compact and allows more flowering stems to develop.  Stopping is generally carried out twice between planting and flowering, however plants can be trimmed back to restrict height as required.   Stopping dates are dependant on location, stage of growth and variety; however this is typically carried out in spring and again in  summer.  If very large blooms are required, the number of shoots carried on the plant after stopping can be reduced to 3 main stems, for general garden use 6 main stems provides flowers of a suitable size and a great display.  Bamboo canes can be used to support flowing stems for exhibition sized flowers.

 Chrysanthemum | Perfect Accent

Puriri Lane | Chrysanthemum | Perfect Accent

For the production of large flowers it is recommended that the plants are disbudded – that is all small flower buds are removed from the stems up to the terminal bloom, these are called “standards” or “disbuds”.  Alternatively, the terminal flower is removed and the side shoots are allowed to develop, these are known as sprays (flowers will be more plentiful but smaller in size).  Plants can be cut back at any stage and will regenerate a number of strong stems, this is recommended after flowering has been completed.

 Flowers are best cut just before becoming fully open as this prolongs vase life.  Cut blooms with a long stem section, and re trimmed before placing into floral preservative solution.  Most of the large exhibition types have a vase life of 2-3 weeks if cut at the correct stage of development.  Once the flowering season is over, plants can be trimmed back to over winter.  With many varieties new shoots will generate from the root system and can these can be used for plant division and propagation of new planting stock.

Chrysanthemum | Pink Chiffon

Puriri Lane | Chrysanthemum | Pink Chiffon

Something that occurs with some of the Chrysanthemums as an example as can happen with Pink Chiffon and that is colour bleaching - if they are start to flower in late March for example then it is too early and both the heat and light levels at that time of year will prevent the correct pink colouration from developing and they will often bleach out to a very pale pink or even white. Some varieties can also throw up random flowers  in summer which end up being completely white due to higher heat and light levels.  With Chiffon Pink (shown above), cooler temperatures give the deeper pink hues particularly once the cooler nights begin. Normal flowering time for Pink Chiffon should be around May when temperatures and light levels are much lower, if it flowers into June, the pink will be an even deeper hue.  Plants are best stopped for a second time in January/February to prevent premature flowering at this time, so that correct flower shape and colour occurs at the normal flowering time in May/June.   Any chrysthanthemums which end up flowering early in say late March and into April can be prone to colour bleaching (they take so long in the opening stages that weeks under high light and temperatures will bleach out colours, particularly the softer tones such as pink which can bleach to white and salmon which will bleach to yellow).  Environment plays a big role in final colour development, so any premature flower buds should be removed rather than letting them flower too early - Autumn will give the best colours once temperatures drop.

Some people do not worry about all of this and sometimes I might not get to plants to do what should be done but whilst the outcome is not the right colour, they can still be pretty. 

Be sure to get yourself some great secateurs for cutting your Chrysanthemums and some snips for disbudding, we love ARS here at Puriri Lane @ Addenbrooke and they are great for women's hands with a small grip and easy to open and close.

ARS130DX Secateurs | The perfect colour for Spring!

Puriri Lane | ARS130DX Secateurs|  Lemon
Enjoy your Chrysanthemums, they are such a rewarding plant to grow.  Be sure to check back in to see new Garden Journal Posts 

Growing information thanks to assistance from Lynette

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