Posted by Gardening Felix | Posted in Flower Gardening Tips | Posted on 14-03-2012
Tags: blooms, cold weather, colorful blossoms, petals, southern china
Chrysanthemums (or “mums”) are among the most attractive shrubs you can have in your garden. Not only do they feature large, colorful blossoms – their blooming period is also quite late in the year (usually from September to October in ), so they are a perfect addition for the later months in the year when other plants already begin to fade. As chrysanthemums are rather unappearing when they’re not blooming, you should try to combine them with other shrubs that have earlier blooming periods (i.e. roses).
Although chrysanthemums originally stem from the warmer climates of southern China, modern varietes are cold-hardy enough to be kept outdoors (although there are some special exhibition varieties for which this does not apply). They’re generally quite tough when it comes to climate, nutrient levels and pH. The modern varieties differ greatly in blossom shape, color and height. Mums are often classified by their blossom shape, which may for example be of the “anemon”-type with centers (disk florets) covered in shorter, darker petals or of the “button”-type, where the outer florets form a rather short, tight ball of many curling petals. Your choice may be limited by the supply kept be gardening centres; you’ll need to order plants if you want a special type.
When and how should I plant new chrysanthemums?
You should wait with purchasing and planting chrysanthemums until April, at least (most chrysanthemums sold in gardening centres come from heated greenhouses and are in no shape for cold weather). On the other hand, I’dd advise you to buy them not later than two months before September, so you may still enjoy the blooms once the plant got used to its new spot.
When planting, you should be careful to place the rootball a bit higher than usual and to fill the hole you dug with enough loose organic matter for good drainage.
Of course, buying whole plants is not the only option. On the one hand, you may sow seeds (which can be started indoors and be transplanted outside after about one month); on the other, you can propagate them by cuttings or plant division. For cutting, choose branches that are about five inches long, place them in water and plant them afterwards in moist peat (best with support of wires); for plant division, you should dig out the plants before spring, pull or cut them apart and choose the healthy divisions for new spots. Remember to pinch the new plants early to ensure a bushy and tight appearance.
How to care for my?
Chrysanthemums need a lot of sun (at least half a day), so try not to plant your flowers in the shadow of trees or buildings. If sunlight is limited in your garden, I’dd advise you to pick other flowers – it’s just discouraging if your mums don’t get the growth and look you wished for. As ‘mums bloom once the sunhours are getting less, it’s possible that the availability of light at night (for example from streetlamps) may irritate them – I can, however, not confirm this from my own experience.
The plants are easily hurt by mildew if they’re too wet. Try to plant them in higher places where water may easily run of (f.e. a raised bed).
Soil with large portions of clay keeps water from running of, which is harmful to the chrysanthemums. You should try to add as much organic matter as possible to your soil in this case.
[You can measure the level of sand/clay amounts if you grab a handful of medium-dry soil and see what happens if you form a ball from it in your hand – if it falls apart at once, your soil is sandy; if it retains its form, it contains much clay.]
Chrysanthemums have no special needs when it comes to soil acidity– a pH between 6 and 6.5 should work just fine, but they also accept slightly alkaline soil.
Nutrients and fertilizer:
I’ve made the experience that concerning soil nutrient levels, chrysanthemums are rather undemanding. The usual portion of compost – one bucketful per square meter applied to your soil in spring – actually suffices (unless nutrients are easily washed away in your soil because it’s sandy or the weather is extremely rainy). If you wish for a long blooming phase it’s helpful to support them with extra liquid fertilizer.
Although most varieties are frost-hardy, you can help them coming through the winter by letting the old foliage remain on the branches, covering them with a bit of straw and the soil around them with enough mulch to keep the worst cold out. You can also pot them and put them inside or in protected areas of your garden.
Chrysanthemums are prone to be attacked by insects (especially by plant bugs, aphids and also leaf-spot). You should check for insects and mould carefully and take prompt measures. Applying organic insect spray in spring – while they’re still dormant – is advisable at least.
If you prefer bushy, tight shrubs, you should start to prune your chrysanthemums in spring (before their buds swell) and continue to do so until mid-summer, but not later – you should do so even though your plants may still be rather small.
By the way, ‘mums are also used as ingredients for flower tea (combined with green tea) or wine in Asian countries such as China, Korea and Japan, which is a little extra feature you can try if you’re growing chrysanthemums. I’m looking forward to your comments – I’m especially curious if any of you had any problems with insects or mould?