Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum flowers

A large family of mainly hardy annuals and perennials grown for their flamboyant daisy-like flowers, which are available in a wide range of sizes, shapes and colours.

Family: Asteraceae (daisy family)
Botanical Name: Chrysanthemum
Common Names: Painted lady, crown daisy, corn marigold.

Foliage: Deciduous, lobed or toothed, green leaves. Usually aromatic.

Flowers: Showy daisy like flowers, in diverse formats and a wide range of colours (depending on variety). Single, double or semi-double forms are available.

Flowering Period: Early-summer to early autumn.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (clay, sand or loam). Optimum pH Range 6.0-7.5.

Conditions: Most varieties flower best in full sun. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Bushy or upright.

Type: Perennials or annuals.

Origin: China, East Asia and northeastern Europe.

Hardiness: Hardy to half-hardy (depending on variety).

Planting and Growing Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums thrive in any good garden soil, though they do best in a humus rich, well-drained loam. Plant in a sunny sheltered site. They will tollerate shade but this can make them leggy and less floriferous.

Hardy annual species can be sown direct in the spring. They are free-flowering bushy plants that produce an abundance of daisy-like flowers, from early summer to early autumn. Useful as bedding, border edges, containers and hanging baskets.

Plant hardy perennials outside from autumn to spring. Late-flowering forms are hardy but the flowers are easily weather damaged when grown out-doors, making them more popular as houseplants.

Plant-out half-hardy perennials in spring, after all danger of frost has passed. These are usually early flowering and are suitable for beds, borders and containers.

Tall varieties make excellent cut flowers.

Taking Care of Chrysanthemums

Most varieties are naturally bushy plants, but with leggy forms the central shoot can be pinched out when the plants are around 6in (15cm) high, to encourage branching and the production of more flowers. Alternatively, if you are growing blooms for the show bench or for cutting, it is best to remove all the side buds and shoots, so that only the main flower bud on each stem remains. This will redirect all the energy into the terminal bud, encouraging larger flowers.

Water freely in dry conditions and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser at regular intervals during the growing season.

Stake tall cultivars and annuals on exposed sites.

Early flowering, half-hardy forms can be left to overwinter in mild regions, with the protection of a course mulch. Alternatively, they can be cut back and the stools lifted and stored in a cool frost free area.

Divide established hardy perennial clumps every 3 or 4 years and discard the worn out centre.

Pruning

Deadhead regularly to extend the flowering period.

Once the flowering season has finished perennial plants can be cut down to about 8in (20cm) above ground level.

Pull up and discard annuals at the end of the season.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by aphids, leaf miner, earwigs, capsid bugs and caterpillars. The leaves can be affected by mildews and grey mould disease.

Late frosts can cause the buds to go brown and drop. Birds may also damage the flowers.

Propagating Chrysanthemums

Sow seeds of hardy annuals where they are to flower, in early or mid spring, covering them with a sprinkling of soil. Thin out to required spacing once large enough to handle.

Cut back over-wintered perennials in late winter to induce bushy growth and young shoots for cuttings. Take basal cuttings of perennials in March and root under the protection of a cold frame or cool propagator. Alternatively, divide established herbaceous clumps in early spring.

Newly propagated young plants should be hardened off before planting out around mid-May, once the risk of frost has past.

Popular Varieties of Chrysanthemum

There are so many different species, strains, forms and flower types that we are unable to cover them all here. For full details of the various classifications of Chrysanthemum visit the The National Chrysanthemum Society website.

Annuals:

Chrysanthemum carinatum (painted lady) is a compact, bushy annual that bears single flowers with purple central discs, surrounded by ray petals, often banded in different colours. Height to 2ft (60cm). Good strains include: 'Cockade' (white with a mixed central halo), 'Polar Star' (white with a yellow central band) and 'Sunset' (mixed shades of red, orange and apricot). For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Chrysanthemum coronarium (crown daisy) is a hardy annual that bears double, semi-double or single flowers ranging from white to golden-yellow, above open ferny foliage. Height to 18in (45cm). Good cultivars include: 'Golden Gem' yellow single blooms with orange eye, 'Primo' cream and yellow doubles and 'Primrose Gem' primrose button flowers featuring a golden eye. For sale at Thompson & Morgan.

Chrysanthemum segetum (corn marigold) is a short to medium height annual with coarsely cut grey leaves. It has single yellow flowers with a brown central disc. Height to 18in (45cm).

Perennials:

Note: Several of the perennials listed below are not true Chrysanthemums but hybrids of various other genera. However, they have been included here as they are commonly available under the name Chrysanthemum. For further variations see Dendranthema, Argyanthemum, Tanacetum and Leucanthemum.

Chrysanthemum 'Double American Spray' is a half-hardy perennial with bright, colourful and cheery sprays of flowers produced in abundance on strong branching stems, in shades of bronze, pink, white and yellow. For sale at Van Meuwen.

Chrysanthemum 'Improved Appleblossom' is a colourful autumn flowering hardy perennial with large double blooms with white and pink etched petals. For sale at Van Meuwen.

Chrysanthemum 'Garden Mums' is a hardy compact dome forming variety that flowers profusely from late August well into November. Available in a wide range of flower colours from orange, coral, pink, white and yellow. For sale at You Garden. Although actually a perennial, they are usually grown as annuals in the UK.

Chrysanthemum multicaule (yellow daisy) is a small perennial form with single golden-yellow flowers. Height from 6-12in (15-30cm).

Chrysanthemum rubellum (Korean Chrysanthemum hybrids) is a group of wide-spreading, clump-forming hardy perennials, with lobed leaves and pink or red daisy-like flowers. Cultivars are also available in shades of yellow and apricot. Height to 2ft (60cm), spread to 1.5ft (45cm).

Chrysanthemum x hortorum 'Anastasia' is a compact late flowering form perfect for the border or a container on the patio. Dusky pink double flowers. Height 60cm (24). Spread 60cm (24). For sale at Van Meuwen.

Chrysanthemum 'Yahou' Series is a compact group of tender perennials, usually treated as annuals. Fast-growing, it produces double flowers from August to the first frosts. Move potted plants to a sheltered spot when the temperatures drop. In areas that only get light frosts, plants may survive outside if they are protected with a generous layer of dry mulch. Cultivars include: Apricot, Yellow, Coco, Rose, Strawberry. For sale at Crocus.

Chrysanthemum 'Jasoda' Series is a compact group of tender perennials, usually treated as annuals. Fast-growing, it produces double flowers from August to the first frosts. Move potted plants to a sheltered spot when the temperatures drop. In areas that only get light frosts, plants may survive outside if they are protected with a generous layer of dry mulch. Height to 2ft (60cm). Cultivars include: Dark Orange, White, Mauve, Yellow. For sale at Crocus.