These puffy flowers are guaranteed to brighten your day – and patio! But whether you want to add more color to your container collection or a garden path, chrysanthemums remain a top decorative choice for many. Not sure how to coddle these cuties? No problem. Our guide is packed with all the information that you need to push your chrysanthemums to their full potential.
Table of Contents
The Benefits of Choosing Chrysanthemums
- Wide variety of color options.
- Beautiful blooms.
- Easy to care for.
- Suitable for containers and the garden.
- Can be propagated at home.
- Long-lasting flowers in arrangements.
Origins and Appearance
Chrysanthemums are native to China. The flowers split into hundreds of cultivars and eventually found their way to Japan, where the plant became associated with royalty. It knocked on Europe’s door in the 17th century where it garnered the unfortunate reputation as a funeral flower. These days, chrysanthemums are found all over the world and are mostly viewed as a popular flower for gardens.
Also affectionately known as “mums,” these flowering plants are available in different shapes in colors. Some have tightly packed, puffy blooms while others look more like daisies. The most common shades include red, orange, yellow, bronze, purple, pink and white. There are usually one or two flowers per stalk. The leaves are small, green and divided into leaflets.
Temperature and Humidity
Mums are known as hardy flowers – it’s one reason why gardeners love them so much! However, without the correct amount of sunlight, heat and air moisture, your chrysanthemums might struggle or even perish. Let’s have a look at each of these three requirements to get an idea of what type of environment sounds like paradise to this plant.
Lots of Sunlight
Chrysanthemum flowers fare best when they are allowed to soak up a lot of sun. They flourish in garden areas with full sunlight. If you live in a hot region, the plants will appreciate shade or indirect sunlight for a couple of hours every day. But in general, the more full sun they get, the more flowers they will produce.
If growing plenty of flowers is important to you, then make sure your mums live in an environment where the temperature is consistently between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18 and 21 degrees Celsius). Anything below that might stop your plants from producing plentiful buds.
Chrysanthemums are also susceptible to temperature extremes. Very hot climates or snowy winters are not ideal and are prone to destroying these beautiful flowers very quickly. You can, however, bring your potted mums indoors during the colder seasons to protect them from frost and snow.
Chrysanthemums can live in areas where the humidity is average and even low. However, they will explode with flowers when they are allowed to grow in high humidity. The best range is between 70 and 90 percent.
Watering and Feeding
Chrysanthemums love water. But be careful! If you give too much or too little, things can also go downhill. The general rule is to keep the soil moist but never soggy. When mums sit in waterlogged soil, they risk root rot and other fungal diseases. Water your potted plants until the water comes out the drainage holes. It should be enough when done on a weekly basis or when the weather gets warmer, two to three times a week.
Chrysanthemums need a helping hand. They are fast growers and abundant bloomers. This takes a lot of energy and nutrients! The best fertilizer for mums is one that is high in nitrogen and potassium.
The best time to feed them is when spring arrives but before the plants have produced their first buds. This will strengthen their roots and encourage the formation of more buds.
If you have pets, avoid giving fish emulsion fertilizer. This feed is very popular because it’s organic, non-toxic and can be given as many times as you want, and the fertilizer will never burn your plants. However, it’s made from real fish. This smelly fragrance might encourage your dog or cat to eat the soil or worse, if you use the emulsion as a leaf spray, consume the plant itself. Mums are very toxic to cats, dogs and even horses.
Soil and Repotting
The good news is that mums can be grown in nearly every soil type, especially when supplemented with a good fertilizer. That being said, the perfect soil for your flowers should be well-draining, mainly to avoid root rot. Chrysanthemums also prefer slightly acidic conditions and the ideal pH range is between 6.5 and 6.7.
Repotting is necessary when your plants become root bound or you have purchased tightly packed mums in a small bag. Repotting a crowded chrysanthemum will definitely increase its lifespan.
- Gather a large pot and a bag of well-draining potting soil.
- Add a layer of soil to the new pot.
- Carefully remove the plant from the old container or bag.
- Place the root ball on the layer and fill up the new pot with soil.
- Give the plant a good watering.
Pro Tip: You can also divide the plants. Take care to separate the roots without any major breakage. Once you have separated the plants, pot each one in its own containers.
Get all the best tips on how to re-pot your house plants.
When to Prune Your Chrysanthemums
Mums look amazing when they have a bushy shape and bountiful blooms. Pruning can encourage your plants to achieve this shape and their peak flowering condition. Wait until your plants are roughly 6 inches (15 cm) tall and then remove the center leaves. Avoid removing buds.
You can easily just pinch them off with your fingers. Keep this up whenever new center leaves appear but stop near the end of June for varieties that bloom in September. Stop pinching end-July for October-blooming mums.
Pests and Diseases
Here’s another great reason to grab your nearest packet of mum seeds. Chrysanthemums rarely develop any serious health issues. However, let’s look at known problems that can affect mums on the unfortunate, rare occasion.
Root rot – Caused by too much watering or waterlogged soil. Prevent this deadly condition by watering only once a week during colder times and bi-weekly during warmer times. Also, use a well-draining mix from the start.
Diseases – When your mums look ill, they most likely have some kind of bacterial infection. Leaves might yellow, stalks will droop and growth will appear stunted. Treat your mums with a good organic bacterial soap as soon as possible.
Insects – Aphids, scale insects, thrips and beetles can munch on your mums. While chrysanthemums are more pest-resistant than most other flowers, you might spot the odd bug on your flowers. Use an organic pesticide to control their numbers and to repel any future infestations.
You can propagate more mums through division, seeds and cuttings. Plants have to be at least two years old for division. Younger plants lack the proper root system to survive propagation this way.
This can be tricky as extremely low temperatures tend to kill mums. But one technique offers hope. After the first frost makes your flowers lose their foliage, trim the plant back to just above the soil. Cover with a good layer of mulch. If all goes well, the plant will enter dormancy and re-emerge in spring.
On average, mums in containers live for a single season. Garden plants can live for as long as four years.
It could be a nocturnal lighting problem. Mums are easily influenced by light and when they sense a glow at night, like a streetlamp, it can throw off their blooming rhythm. Avoid confusing your mums by ensuring that their nighttime environment is sufficiently dark.
Some people claim that mums flower tea has medical benefits. However, do proper research before trying this. Stay safe and consult a medical professional if you are truly intrigued by the idea of trying this herb.
The flowering season for chrysanthemum is during the summer and fall.