Chrysanthemum flowers or "mums" are a rich genus exhibiting a huge variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Originating in China and Japan, they have made their way into gardens across the globe. Don't have any in your garden yet? That's okay. This is your one-stop guide on how to plant Chrysanthemums and how to care for them. Get started now!
What types of Chrysanthemums can you grow in your garden? What do they symbolize in the language of flowers? And what are their health benefits? Find all you need to know about them in our easy guide.
Meaning of Chrysanthemum Flowers
Chrysanthemums originated in China where they were mainly used for natural remedies and incorporated into dishes. The name of the plant is derived from the Greek words "chrysos" meaning gold and "anthemon" signifying flower.
There are many different meanings associated with these flowers, mainly related to their colors, cultural origins, and time periods.
Chrysanthemums Color Significance
This cheerful flower symbolizes optimism, fidelity, joy, love, and longevity. However, specific colors have certain meanings of their own.
- Yellow Chrysanthemums symbolize sorrow or neglect.
- Red Chrysanthemums convey passionate and deep love.
- Purple or Violet Chrysanthemums symbolize wishing someone good health, fast recovery, and support.
- White Chrysanthemums stand for honesty, loyalty, and devotion.
Chrysanthemum Cultural Meanings
The significance of these flowers varies across countries, cultures, and time periods.
- In Australia, a Chrysanthemum is a traditional gift for mothers day, which is in fact related to their abbreviation "mums".
- During Victorian times, Chrysanthemums were gifted to symbolize friendship, support, and well-being.
- In Austria, Belgium, and other European countries, Chrysanthemums are used as a remembrance flower for loved ones, for funerals, and in honor of the dead. The Incurve Chrysanthemums, in particular, symbolize death.
- In the USA, these flowers stand for joy, positivity, cheerfulness, and affection.
- In Asian countries in general, Chrysanthemum flowers signify rebirth and life.
- Japan has an annual festival to celebrate these beautiful flowers called the "Festival of Happiness".
As the Chrysanthemum blooms during the fall, it's also known as the flower of fall or of November and October. In this sense, it signifies joy and beauty at the beginning of the harsh cold months of winter.
Types of Chrysanthemum Flowers
As Chrysanthemums flowers are some of the most popular flowers in the world with over 1800 species, there are many types to choose from.
Here is a list of the top types of Chrysanthemum flowers to brighten up your garden.
1. Spider Bloom Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
The Spider Bloom has long thin petals that resemble spider legs. Growing up to 6 inches long, the petals develop in random directions and may even curl at the tips.
This interesting flower has a fresh scent and comes in an array of colors including warm oranges, yellows, pinks, purples, bronze, and white. Common varieties include Western Voodoo and Evening Glow.
Tip: Spider blooms are great for ornamental and decorative uses.
2. Pompon Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum)
This "mum" resemble a pom-pom, doesn't it? The Pompon Chrysanthemum has short and curved petals that fully cover the disc of the flower.
Pompon Mums are fairly small in comparison to other varieties. However, this does not take away from their sweet looks.
They grow between 2-3 feet in height and come in a variety of colors, such as purples, pinks, whites, and others. Yoko Ono is a popular cultivar.
3. Single Bloom Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Resembling a daisy, single bloom Chrysanthemums are rich white flowers with a yellow center. Compared to normal daisies, single blooms are larger and have more impressive centers.
Their petals are symmetrically spaced around the disc making them look light and bushy. Although generally white, they do come in different colors such as deep orange, pink, and red.
Variations include the Fire Island, Icy Isle, and Crimson Glory.
4. Anemone Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum)
Anemone Blooms have a distinctive central disc. The petals surround the disc from underneath and are much shorter than petals on other Chrysanthemums.
These flowers are named after sea anemones due to their similar appearance. They come in an array of colors but most commonly purples and warm colors such as reds and oranges.
5. Spoon Bloom Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
This species is commonly known as the Spoon Mum, due to the shape of the petals, which are curved like a spoon. With their original and distinct appearance, Spoon Blooms easily stand out in any garden.
Spoon Mums grow up to 4 inches in height from late summer through until peak wintertime. They grow in mass and produce colorful bunches of flowers. The center disc is yellow, flat, and small.
They come in a variety of colors such as white, yellow, bronze, pinks, reds, and many more.
6. Incurve Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum × morifolium)
The description is in the name: these flowers have petals that curve inwards towards the disc of the flower. They have beautiful large blooms and come in a wide range of colors.
Although they have non-symmetrically shaped petals, their globe-like heads give them a distinctive look. Apricot Alexis and Gillette's are common varieties of this species.
Tip: Blooming between August and October, these flowers are an ideal addition to your autumn garden.
7. Reflex Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum indicum)
The Reflex Chrysanthemums are quite similar in shape to the blooms of the Incurve "mums". However, the petals grow outwards and down away from the center disc.
With irregularly shaped petals and stunning colors, these cute little flowers will brighten any garden.
From light and fluffy colors to rich and deep shades, this species offers you many varieties to choose from.
8. Quilled Bloom Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Unique and elegantly spectacular, the Quilled Bloom Chrysanthemum is a delight to the eye. With its very narrow and long petals, it's one of the more memorable varieties around.
The spiked, quill-like petals grow up to 6 inches in height. This flower has a stunning scent that can attract bees and butterflies and imbue an old garden with life.
Good to know: This flower blooms during the fall and lasts till the first. You can count on it as a late bloomer.
9. Chrysanthemum Brush or Thistle (Chrysanthemum indicum)
The Brush or Thistle Chrysanthemums got their name due to the resemblance of their petals to a paintbrush or thistle flower.
The wispy petals vary in shape and size but can grow up to 2 inches in length. They often change color when the weather gets colder, turning to deeper shades.
Like other species on our list, they grow and bloom during the fall, lasting till the temperature drops. They tend to maintain warm, deep shades throughout their growth period.
Tip: This species is hardier than other varieties and can last longer throughout the year. Cindy and Cisco are popular cultivars.
10. Cushion Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum indicum)
Cushion Chrysanthemums are an adorable round-shaped species, resembling tiny cushions! These sweet flowers grow in large, compact bunches.
The most common colors include lilacs, pinks, and whites. Petals vary in shape from tiny spatula petals too long, thin ones.
Good to know: Because it can cope with lower temperatures, this variety can flourish longer into late fall or early winter.
How to Grow Chrysanthemum Flowers and Care for Them
You can count on Chrysanthemum flowers' hardiness and resistance to cold weather. These are not flowers that will easily shiver once the first cold start blowing!
However, it's important to give them the right soil, shading, sunlight, and spacing. Otherwise, your plants may be lacking nutrients or competing for them and have a higher risk of developing diseases.
Caring for your flower correctly will lead to a beautiful, healthy bloom, and we'll show you how to do it.
How to Plant Chrysanthemums
Choose a variety that's adapted to the weather in your region. That's the single most important thing to growing these interesting flowers without any hassle.
- If you live in Northern areas with colder weather, it is better to plant this flower during the spring. This will help strengthen the root system and give them a better chance of enduring the winter.
- However, if you live in warmer, southern zones plant your flowers during the end of summer or the beginning of fall. Otherwise, your flowers may die because of the heat.
- Consider the spacing between your plants. If you plant them in spring, your "mums" won't fill out as much space.
- "Mums" planted directly in the fall will have already bloomed more and therefore need more space. Give them enough space to grow as they can grow over 3 feet in width and the root systems may grow over each other.
A key factor is to plant the flowers in a patch where the roots have room to spread. The soil must be well-draining, organic soil.
Important: After planting, make sure to keep the soil moist constantly. If not, the soil will be too dry and may cause the roots to break or make it harder for them to become established.
On the other hand, you want to avoid making your soil too wet as you may drown your plant. If you don't have organic soil, just mix into it some organic compost.
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Most plants love sunlight, and "mums" thrive in it. However, since they usually grow in the fall, they tend to prefer cooler weather.
You must have enough shade in your garden to prevent them from totally drying out. Around 6 hours of sunlight per day should be enough for your flowers to thrive.
Your "mums" will start to bud and bloom when they sense a change in temperature and the amount of sunlight they get. In other words, these plants are smart: they can tell when September or October has arrived.
It's vital to water your Chrysanthemums regularly during all seasons. This also means keeping the soil moist and avoiding drought.
If the soil is already moist then you don't need to water the plant. The soil must be wet or moist up to 8 inches deep as this ensures that the water will reach all of the roots.
Tip: Make sure to only water the soil around the flower. Leaving water on the leaves can induce fungal growth.
Pinching or Deadheading
Pinching is another word for pruning, and you want to do it to help your flower reach its full potential. Deadheading is essential if you have planted your "mums" in the spring.
Tip: To get the best blooms, pinch (cut) your flowers back when they grow up to 4-6 inches.
Cut the branch just above the second set of leaves, or cut off 1 inch from the end. Continue to do this so that your flowers don't bloom too early.
Tip: You don't have to throw away the branches. Instead, replant them in the flower bed to grow more "mums".
Repeat this every 2-3 weeks through the warmer months to help your plant branch out. When the winter comes and your flowers wither and die, do not cut them back.
Leave them as they are and they should grow back stronger in the spring.
Fertilizing your Chrysanthemum flowers is essential to give them the nutrients they need to flourish. Prior to fertilizing, make sure that you plant them with enough space in between them.
This ensures that they will grow without having to compete for nutrients and will have good air circulation.
The most important time to give the plants fertilizer is during their first months of growth. This is spring and summer.
Chrysanthemums need plenty of nutrients to grow fast and strong, so buying a good, organic fertilizer is important.
Tip: A water-soluble, organic fertilizer (5-10-5) for plant growth, and some super-phosphate will help strengthen the root system.
Make sure to fertilize your mums several times a year. But if you have planted them in the fall, wait until spring to fertilize them. This is because fertilizer can actually make the plants less winter-hardy.
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Surviving a harsh winter can be a challenge for plants, and "mums" are no exception, despite being hardier than other flowers.
Giving them some help can make it easier for them to get through the winter. Apply a thick layer of fall mulch to the soil around your plants. This will preserve the roots and limit freezing.
Pests and Diseases
When it comes to protecting your Chrysanthemums from diseases and pests there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Leaf spots (fungal infections) can be treated if you remove the infected leaves from the plant and those in the debris around the base.
- Wilt (fungal) requires that you remove the infected plant material and soil.
- Aphids and Spider mites can be a nuisance, but you can deal with them by by spraying the plant with water every 2 days.
- Leaf-miners (fly larvae) can be more of a bother, and to get rid of them you have to prune off and destroy the infected leaves and spray the rest of the plant with insecticides.
- Crown Gall requires that you remove the infected branches but preserve the stems if possible.
- Grey mold can be dealt with if you separate infected plants and spray them with foliar spray or chlorothalonil.
Chrysanthemum Uses and Benefits
Traditionally in China, these flowers were used in natural remedies offered to old relatives or friends in the hope that it would improve their health and add years to their life.
Not only do these flowers brighten up your garden, but they also have a few notable health benefits. Let's take a look at some of the more important ones.
Chrysanthemum Flower Medicinal Properties
Since they started being cultivated more than 3,000 years ago, these plants have been used as natural remedies in folk medicine.
When crushed and infused in hot water, the flowers can create a tea that has anti-microbial properties and tissue-repairing nutrients. This tea may also help treat osteoporosis and calm the nerves.
In addition, this tea is often also used to provide relief for bloating and digestive cramps. It may also have a soothing effect on the skin and help reduce acne, much like chamomile tea.
Although usually infused into tea, the flowers or extracts from the plant can be used to make oil, powders, or compresses.
Chrysanthemums Frequently Asked Questions
Find now the answers to some of the most common questions that gardeners ask about these plants.
Do chrysanthemums come back every year?
Are chrysanthemums poisonous?
What do chrysanthemums symbolize?
Are chrysanthemums easy to grow?
Time to Grow Some "Mums"?
As you can see, Chrysanthemums are nothing if not interesting. They have a distinctive look, wear pleasant colors, and have some potential health benefits to boot.
We hope this article will help you decide which variety to choose for your garden. And, of course, to plant and grow it with ease.
Remember that with these fall flowers, you won't have to worry about your garden looking drab after summer. Even when all the leaves fall from the trees, "mums" will help keep your garden colorful and lively.
Have you had any experience growing these flowers so far? We'd love to her from you about it. Drop us a comment and tell us all about it.