Chrysanthemums are really quite a special plant, and one of my personal favourites! The reason for this is that they bloom just as we are starting to lose hope on the British Summer – to remind us that we actually do have a few weeks, or months left before winter truly kicks in! They are one of the last blooming flowers that you will find in gardens, waiting until the end of summer to show off their wonderful bright coloured flowers.
There are over 30 types of Chrysanthemum, with too many hybrid forms to even mention! They come in many different forms with different stem lengths, leaves and most importantly flowers! Choosing one that is perfect for your garden isn’t always easy, with garden centres overflowing with different types to suit every buyer! Our article aims to provide you with all the information you could need to get ready to make a home in your garden for Chrysanthemums.
Features of Chrysanthemums
This section of the article aims to provide you with all the basics that you could need to know about chrysanthemums and help you decide if they are right for your garden.
- Colour – Chrysanthemums come in many different colours; from shades of purple and a rich red, to more delicate colours of pink, white and a yellow so bold it looks almost gold!
- Flowering season – In general Chrysanthemums will flower from the end of Summer until the beginnings of winter (depending on the weather and the level of frost). Individual flowers will normally last between three and six weeks (again depending on the weather that you get each year). The main type of these is the Chrysanthemum morifolium.
- Some Chrysanthemums are known as “Early Mums” and will bloom in the Spring and Summer. Some varieties include: Chrysanthemum maximum, Chrysanthemum coccineum and Chrysanthemum parthenium.
- Size – Chrysanthemums range in size and shape quite considerably. Some plants will have shorter stems and flowers that grow close to the ground and their leaves, whereas others will have stems so much longer that they might even need staking! This is the same for the flowers which range from being very open, to being much smaller.
TOP TIP: In general, the more open flowers with many petals tend to be more durable and keep their colour better.
- Where to plant – Chrysanthemums are best planted in full sun with well-drained soil (slightly acidic if possible).
- When to plant – Chrysanthemums aren’t a fan of particularly wet weather when the soil gets overly damp so plant them around April/May.
How to Grow Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums are relatively easy to grow, however they do prefer well fertilized spoil (we would recommend feeding monthly through the summer months and into early autumn to encourage growth). With this is mind, after digging your hole when planting, place some compost at the bottom of the hole to support your plant in its early stages.
If planting more than one Chrysanthemum (which gives the best, eye-catching appearance in your garden), then we would recommend placing the plants between 18” and 24” apart to allow the roots to bed in and to give them the best chance at growth.
Chrysanthemums need to be watered regularly during their first year of planting, then after this they just need to be watered whenever the weather is particularly dry – especially if they are planted in pots.
In general, they can be left outside over winter, providing they have a good covering of compost. However, if you experience particularly cold spells (less than -5 °C) then we would recommend bringing them inside.
Pruning, Pinching and Deadheading
To get the best from your Chrysanthemums it is important to prune and pinch them regularly, and deadhead any flowers that are past their best!
Pinching simply refers to trimming off the top of any new growth once it has reached between 6-8 inches. In a way, like a haircut, this will “freshen” the branches encouraging them to produce new side branches and add to the growth. This is something that you need to continue doing until around the end of June (or mid-July for later blooming plants).
The Science Behind the Chrysanthemum Season
Ever wondered how Chrysanthemums know when to bloom? It doesn’t matter if we have had a fantastic summer of long warm days, or a cold, wet and dark summer that has left us feeling rather miserable! Regardless of this, the Chrysanthemums seem to “sense” when the nights are getting longer, and when autumn is approaching, and know it is time to do their job!
This is because they are something called “photoperiodic” which means that there is something triggered in the plant that reminds it to bloom when the shorter days and longer nights start occuring! So as soon as the nights get any longer than 12 hours and the temperatures cool, you should start to see your Chrysanthemums blooming.
This isn’t to say that you can’t purchase blooming Chrysanthemums at other times of year – many garden centres will have plants that are blooming in Spring and early Summer that have been “tricked” into blooming early in a greenhouse!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Chrysanthemums perennials or annuals?
Chrysanthemums are perennials – which means that the main stem will die at the end of the season and then come back with new stems and growth each year until they are fully grown (providing they are well looked after).
What colour of Chrysanthemums should I buy?
Really the colour of Chrysanthemums is down to personal preference. However, be aware that white Chrysanthemums are less likely to be able to cope with frosts on colder nights, whereas others will be able to survive the first few frosts of winter if they are not too cold!
Can Chrysanthemums be affected by pests?
Unfortunately yes, Chrysanthemums can be affected by pests such as aphids and leaf miners. There is no real way to avoid this unless you are willing to treat your plants and keep a constant check over them for these damaging critters!