Chrysanthemums

I didn’t use to pay much attention to chrysanthemums in my earlier days.  They just seemed so “common place” and were always the cheap plants at the nursery.  But at some point I decided that my garden needed that quintessential splash of color in the fall, so I thought “what the heck”.

The name “Chrysanthemum” was given to the plant by the botanist, Carolus Linneaus.  It is a combination of two Greek words that literally translates into “golden flower”.  Though the plant is native to Asia, it is not uncommon to find it growing in gardens and containers in Greece.

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What I didn’t realize is that you can get color out of them twice a year, both in the spring and the fall.  The big show is after summer, but the spring bloom is nothing to sneeze at.

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They are not fussy about where you put them.  I have some growing in clay, in full sun, and part shade.  Few things bother them to the point that they don’t make it.  For me, snails and slugs have been my worst enemies, so be sure to protect your plants if they are in your garden, too.

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Another wonderful thing is that chrysanthemums are both heat and drought tolerant.  This is very good for my Central California garden!  We hit 100+ F temperatures every summer for prolonged periods of time and my plants handle it with ease each season.  Winter takes its toll on the vegetation, but the plant is a perennial capable of handling zone 5-6 cold.  It will die back, but a quick trim of the old material reveals fresh, living leaves below.

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Chrysanthemums also come in a wide variety of colors and slower shapes.  Pretty much the only color not available that I know of is blue.  They are color changers, too.  My white flowers eventually develop streaks of purple, and my yellow will have splashes of burgundy-red.

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When trimming growth that has died back, just grab the stems by the handful and cut near the base, above the new layer of growth.

Depending on what variety you get will determine it’s pattern of growth.  Some form large-ish mounds 2-3 feet across, while others are more narrow and upright.  The upright forms may flop over.  You could either stake them, or if they are allowed to flop over, lateral stems may eventually form and grow upwards, anyway.  The plants tend to be on the shorter side, at about 2-3 feet.  This makes them great additions to the front or middle of the flower bed.

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The low growth will sprout upwards in no time.  The cut off material is now ready for compost!

Plant Summary:

  • Perrenial
  • Evergreen, if temperatures stay above freezing, but may need to protect in cold weather
  • Flower Color: various: red, orange, yellow, pink, green, purple, white
  • Height: up to 2-3
  • Width: up to 2-3
  • Sun: full sun, part shade
  • Water: drought tolerant
  • Soil pH: 6.5 – 7.5
  • Soil type: tolerates various soils but does not like soggy conditions
  • Key nutrients: balanced
  • Planting time: early spring or early fall

 

 

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