Chrysanthemums are a genus (Chrysanthemum) of about 30 species of perennial flowering plants in the family Asteraceae, native to Asia and northeastern Europe. Amongst florists and in the floral industry, they are commonly referred to as “mums”.
Chrysanthemums were cultivated in China as a flowering herb as far back as the 15th century BC. An ancient Chinese city was named Chu-Hsien, meaning “chrysanthemum city”. The flower was introduced into Japan probably in the 8th century CE, and the Emperor adopted the flower as his official seal. There is a “Festival of Happiness” in Japan that celebrates the flower.
The flower was brought to Europe in the 17th century. Linnaeus named it from the Greek prefix chrys-, which means golden (the colour of the original flowers), and -anthemon, meaning flower.
Mums grow between 1½ to 3 feet tall depending on cultivar, growing conditions and whether they are pinched regularly during the growing season.
Chrysanthemum growth rate
Garden mums are hardy perennials throughout South Carolina, although many people treat them as short-season, fall-planted annuals. Chrysanthemums grown as perennials will spread rapidly. They should be divided every year or two.
Chrysanthemum ornamental features
Garden chrysanthemums are valued for their intense color display at the end of the growing season. Flowers are available in many forms and colors range from pure white to yellow, bronze, pink and lavender, coral and salmon, purple, and deep burgundy red.
Disease problems can include powdery mildew, Botrytis blight, aster yellows, leaf spots, viruses and foliar nematodes. Insects that commonly infest chrysanthemums are aphids, thrips and spider mites. For information on chrysanthemum pests and diseases consult HGIC 2101, Chrysanthemum Problems.
Chrysanthemum landscape use
Chrysanthemums prefer fertile, highly organic, well-drained soil in full sun. Mature plants set in a shady area will give nice color the first year but do very poorly the following year.
The right amount of water is vital to success with chrysanthemums. Too little water will slow their growth or stop it completely. Mums especially need plenty of water when they bloom. Give plenty of water to field-grown mums to prevent wilting until they re-establish a good root system.
Mums are heavy feeders. A weekly application of soluble fertilizer is a good practice. Mulch will help retain soil moisture, control weeds and improve appearance.
Chrysanthemums can be planted in the fall or in early spring. Spring planted mums will give a more robust, full plant for the fall landscape. Pinch the tip growth of spring-planted mums regularly to cause them to branch and bloom well. Remove the top Â½ to 1 inch of new growth about every four weeks from the time the plant is 6 inches tall until early July in the upper piedmont and mountains, up to early August at the coast.
Chrysanthemums are classified according to shape and arrangement of petals. The major types of hardy mums include the following.Daisies or Singles have daisy-like flowers with yellow centers.
Anemones are like single mums but with a rounded crest of deeper color.
Decoratives have double or semi-double flowers and usually grow to over 18 inches tall.
Pompons have small ball-shaped flowers, on plants that are usually under 18 inches tall.
Cushion mums are not a flower form but a name used for early-flowering, low, bushy mums.
These are just a few of the many cultivars available:
‘Chablis’ is an early flowering, white decorative with a creamy center.
‘Encore’ is a formal late decorative with white flowers.
‘Linda’ is a late-season white decorative with excellent flower form.
‘Patriot’ is a pure white, mid-late season pompon with a spreading plant habit.
‘Tracy’ is a very late white double daisy with a spreading growth habit.
‘Jessica’ is a midseason, bright yellow decorative with long-lasting flowers.
‘Yellow Sarah’ is a late-blooming, yellow quilled decorative. Excellent growth habit.
‘Allure’ is a mid-season, bright yellow daisy with a green eye. It has a cushion growth habit and tolerates high temperatures.
‘Yellow Jacket’ is a prolific and very uniform daisy with an excellent habit.
‘Cheyenne’ is a large, mid-season, bronze decorative with a button-like texture.
‘Denise’ is a very late season, large, pastel bronze decorative with a mounding habit.
‘Eclipse’ is a mid-season peaches and cream decorative with a compact and spreading habit.
‘Flame’ is a spectacular flame-orange mid-season daisy with large flowers. It is compact and uniform.
‘Oriole’ is a late burnt orange daisy that is extremely long-lasting.
Pink and Purple Cultivars
‘Barbara’ is a late-small, purple pompon.
‘Bordeaux’ has burgundy-red flowers with neat, semi-tube petals in mid-early season.
‘Cabernet’ Late-season lavender decorative. Flowers up to 3 inches in diameter; one of the largest-flowered garden mums available.
‘Debonair’ is a lavender decorative with a durable spreading habit.
‘Lynn’ is a two-tone lavender decorative with purple centers surrounded by lavender petals.
‘Tinkerbell’ is an intense purple decorative. It is early strong and compact.
‘Stargazer’ is a dark lavender daisy with an excellent habit. It is sensitive to over watering and poor drainage.
‘Tripoli’ is a very late blooming, vibrant pink daisy with golden yellow center.
Coral and Salmon flowered Cultivars
‘Grenadine’ is a popular, early coral decorative with a compact habit. The flower color fades under warm conditions.
‘Radiant Lynn’ has a decorative flower form with salmon-pink outer petals surrounded by raspberry tinged center petals.
‘Serenade’ Vibrant rose-coral decorative with large flowers. It blooms earlier than ‘Grenadine’.
Red Flowered Cultivars
‘Bravo’ has dark red decorative flowers on strong, compact plants.
‘Garnet’ is a formal mid-season red pompon. Flowers are bright crimson, maturing to bronze.
‘Ruby Mound’ is a maroon-red early decorative with large flowers.
‘Salsa’ is a red daisy with a light green eye and a mounding growth habit.
Chrysanthemum culinary uses
Chrysanthemum flowers are boiled to make a sweet drink in some parts of Asia. The resulting beverage is known simply as “chrysanthemum tea”. Chrysanthemum tea has many medicinal uses, including an aid in recovery from influenza.
The leaves of several species such as Chrysanthemum coronarium, the Garland Chrysanthemum, which is grown commercially in East Asia as a leaf vegetable, known as tung hoor shungiku. In China, the greens are often stir-fried simply with garlic and dried chili peppers. The colour of the cooked greens is dark, their texture dense and mucilaginous, and their flavour fragrant and complex.