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Chrysanthemums: growing in the garden, care, planting

Chrysanthemum flowerChrysanthemum (lat. Chrysanthemum) is a herbaceous perennial and annual in the family Asteraceae. In Greek the flower’s name means “golden-colored”, or “flower-sun”, since many species have a yellow coloring of the inflorescences. According to the GRIN site, in nature this genus includes 29 species distributed in the northern and temperate zones, mostly in Asia. Archaeologists say that more than 2,500 years ago chrysanthemum was already cultivated by the ancient Chinese who used its petals for food, and in the treatise “Spring and Autumn” it was mentioned by Confucius himself! Then, the Japanese cultivated the flower and idolized this flower so much that only members of the imperial family had the right to wear clothes depicting chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemum was brought to Europe in the eighteenth century, but it was only in the nineteenth century when it was intensively cultivated.

Scientists believe that the widely known florist’s chrysanthemum (chrysanthemum hortorum) appeared as a result of crossing two Asian species – Indian chrysanthemum (chrysanthemum indicum), that comes from Japan, and chrysanthemum morifolium that comes from China. Chrysanthemum is so popular among the breeders that experiments on breeding of new varieties do not stop, especially since for people chrysanthemum is not just a beautiful flower, but the last rich chord in the autumn symphony of flowers and colors …

Description of chrysanthemum flower

Garden chrysanthemumAmong chrysanthemums there are perennial and annual chrysanthemums, and species can be herbaceous and sub-shrubby. Chrysanthemum rhizome is branching, growing across the ground surface. Shoots can be bare and pubescent. The leaves of the chrysanthemum are located alternately, simple, but different in size and shape – dedalous, toothed, dissected. The leaves may also be pubescent, or not. The color of the leaves is usually light green, although it may be dark. Small flowers are collected in heads, sometimes quite large, consisting usually of single-rowed disk florets and ray florets, although the florets of many hybrid varieties are multi-rowed, forming a dense inflorescence called double chrysanthemum. The fruit of the chrysanthemum is an achene. In cultivation species and varieties of the florist’ chrysanthemum are used. This is a complex group of varieties and hybrids, their history is rather confusing.

Species and varieties of chrysanthemum

Despite the outstanding success in the breeding of new species and varieties of chrysanthemums, there is no single system for classification of these plants yet. In Germany, France and China they are divided into 10 classes, and in England and the USA there are 15 of them. We will describe the most successful of them.

Classifications by the flower size and the bush height:

Large-flowered chrysanthemum

They are luxurious large chrysanthemums (diameter of flowers is 4-10 inches, the average height is 2.6-4 ft) of different forms of inflorescence, grown mainly for cutting. Most often this species of chrysanthemum does not overwinter in the open ground, but recently created varieties can be kept for overwintering in the garden:

  • Anastasia Green is green chrysanthemums with needle-like flowers, the bush height is 2.6-3.2 ft in height, it starts blooming in October, overwinters in the ground, but requires covering;
  • Zembla Lilac chrysanthemum is a very large double pink chrysanthemum, petals are wide, the height of the bush is 2.9 ft, it overwinters in the garden. Pot flowers of Zemba serie are very popular;
  • Tom Pearce is a red chrysanthemum, the downside of the petal is orange, the shape of the flower is spherical, the diameter is 8.6 inches, the height of the bush is 5 ft, it starts blooming in September;

Mid-flowered chrysanthemum

It is called ornamental. The diameter of the flowers is 4-7 inches, the height of the bushes is 12-28 inches. They are grown not only in the gardens, but also in pots, decorating balconies and terraces. It can also be used for cutting. Here are the varieties that can be easily grown in the garden:

  • Spray of Champagne is a bush chrysanthemum with the height of 2.3-3 ft, needle-shaped inflorescence comes in light pink color with yellowish dusting in the center, there is a variety with golden flowers, the diameter is 3-4 inches. It blooms from October till the frosts, it perfectly overwinters in the ground;
  • Golden Fleece is a yellow-orange chrysanthemum, the height is 1.3-2 ft, it starts blooming at the end of September, it overwinters in the garden;
  • Pink Chamomile is a chrysanthemum of daisy type of a dark pink color, the diameter of the flower is 2.4-3 inches, the height of the bush is 2-3 ft. It starts flowering in September till the frosts, it overwinters in the ground.

Small-flowered chrysanthemum, or hardy chrysanthemum

They are frost-resistant perennial chrysanthemums. The bush is 10-47 inches high, numerous inflorescences of various colors can be both simple and double. It is a minimal care plant, it is easily propagated, and grows in any soil type for up to 4 years. It blooms in mid-September and flowering lasts till the very frosts. Inflorescences are from 0.8 to 4 inches in diameter. The scent of these chrysanthemums resembles the aroma of wormwood. They ideally overwinter in the open ground:

  • Etna is a bush with the height of 2-2.6 ft, lilac needle-like flowers are 2.4-3 inches in diameter, flowering starts in October;
  • Slavyanochka is 1.3-2 ft high, has pink flowers with a bright center, it starts blooming at the end of September;
  • Multiflora chrysanthemum is of new selection, currently it is incredibly popular. It is grown both in the open ground, and in a container or pot. It starts blooming early, sometimes even in August, has a globular shape of the bush and a wide color range.

Classification according to the shape of the inflorescence:

Simple chrysanthemums

  • simple (Ben Dickson, Pat Joice);
  • semi-double (Amazon, Baltiс, Natasha);
  • anemone (Vivien, Beautiful Lady, André Rose).

Double chrysanthemums

  • reflexed (Regalia, Tracy Waller);
  • spoon (Swan Song, Valley Ruf);
  • hemispherical (Gazella, Golden Prague, Tresor);
  • globular (Arctic, Creamist, Broadway);
  • ray (Pietro, Magdalena, Tokio);
  • pompons (Denis, Fairie, Bob);
  • spider (Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring, Grace).

Classification by flowering time:

Early season varieties

  • Chrysanthemum Zembla Yellow is a yellow large-flowered chrysanthemum of globular shape, its diameter is 6 inches, it starts blooming in September;
  • Delianne is a white chrysanthemum, needle-shaped, 6.3 inches in diameter, it blooms in September;
  • Handsome is a chrysanthemum of daisy type and of lilac color with a white border. It starts blooming in September;

Mid-season varieties

  • Orange is a globular chrysanthemum of bright yellow color, 8 inches in diameter, it blooms in October;
  • Anastasia Lil is a needle-shaped lilac flower, 8 inches in diameter. It blooms in October;
  • Froggy is a chrysanthemum with small globular flowers of green color, it blooms in October.

Late season varieties

  • Avignon has globular light pink flowers, 4 inches in diameter, it blooms in November;
  • Rivardi has yellow heads of 8 inches in diameter, it blooms in November;
  • Larissa is of daisy-type with white flowers and a yellow center, flowering begins in November.

In addition, chrysanthemums are divided into annuals:

Painted daisy, or tricolor chrysanthemum

It is densely branched, 7.8-27.5 inches high, with fleshy stalk, leaves are petiolate, twice pinnately-divided, inflorescence are large heads, simple, semi-double or double, 2-2.8 inches in diameter. Ray florets are white or yellow with a reddish limb, disk florets are dark red. The varieties are:

  • Flammenshtal has a yellow-brown center and red flowers;
  • Nordstern has large white flowers with a yellow-red center;
  • Cocarde has simple white flowers with a carmine base, blooms in June till September;

Corn marigold, or corn daisy ( Chrysanthemum segetum)

Its height is 12-24 inches, heavily branching, the leaves below the stem are pinnate, the leaves of the upper part are toothed. Flowers resemble field chamomiles of white color with a yellow center. Diameter is 1.2-2 inches. Popular varieties are:

  • Helios is a golden-yellow chrysanthemum;
  • Stern des Orients has light yellow flowers with dark center;

Crowndaisy chrysanthemum

It is tall (1.3-3.3 ft), shoots are densely covered with pinnately divided leaves, there are areas with toothed, lanceolate leaves. The inflorescences are up to 1.2 inches in diameter, the color of the disk florets is yellow-green, the color of the ray florets range from yellow to white.

  • Tetra Comet is a semi-double variety with large flowers of various colors

... and perennial chrysanthemums

that include almost all of the above-mentioned species and varieties.

There is also a classification of chrysanthemums by Scott, created in 1951. Among the scientists-florists it is considered detailed and convenient, but for amateurs it is complex.

Growing of chrysanthemums from seeds

Seeds of chrysanthemums

The easiest ways to propagate chrysanthemums are by cuttings and division of rhizomes, but often chrysanthemum grown from seeds becomes an object of special pride of breeders. Seed propagation is used in growing of both perennial (e.g., hardy chrysanthemums) and annual species. We will show you how to grow chrysanthemums giving an example of seed reproduction of annual species. In May, after the last date of spring frosts, 2-3 seeds are placed in planting holes located 8-10 inches apart and poured with warm water, and then sprinkle the soil over them, cover the garden beds with a garden fabric to keep the soil warm and moist. As soon as the shoots appear, the garden cloth needs to be removed, the soil is gently loosened and the weeds are removed. In ten days the seedlings need to be fed with a liquid fertilizer. When the shoots reach a height of 2.7-4 inches, keep one strong seedling with 3-4 true leaves in the hole, the remaining seedlings can be replanted elsewhere. Your annuals will bloom in early August. If you want chrysanthemums to bloom earlier, you need to grow seedlings first.

Seedlings of chrysanthemums

Seedlings should be grown at room temperature in shallow boxes with soil, consisting of equal parts of greenhouse soil, humus and peat. It is better to buy the disinfected soil substrate in a store. If you decide to do it yourself, then do not forget to sift and warm it at a temperature of 230-266° F. At the bottom of the box place the broken brick or expanded clay to create a drainage layer, then place the soil mixture and spread the seeds over it. Seeds of annual chrysanthemums are sprinkled with a 0.2 inch layer of soil, seeds of perennial are not covered, only slightly pressed into the soil. Now sprinkle the surface with water from the spray gun, cover the boxes with foil or glass and keep them at a temperature of 73-77ºF, from time to time airing and sprinkling with warm water so that the soil does not dry out. The shoots should appear in one and a half or two weeks. Now bring the boxes to the lightest place and begin gradually hardening off the shoots by removing the glass or foil for one hour, then for two and so on, until it is the time to remove the cover completely. If the shoots are too thick, then when 2-4 leaves appear (not cotyledons, but true ones), they are pricked out into pots with the same soil, trying not to damage the roots of the chrysanthemum seedlings. In order to do this, before the pricking-out, moisten the soil in the boxes. Weakened or elongated seedlings are discarded. After pricking, the seedlings are sprinkled with a solution of biostimulant to help them take root quickly.

Seedlings of chrysanthemums

Seedlings of chrysanthemums

The pricked-out chrysanthemum seedlings are kept in a room at a temperature of 61-64ºF, watered when necessary, and fed with a solution of combined fertilizer twice a month. If necessary, arrange supplemental fluorescent illumination. You should know that the seedlings grow slowly: in a month and a half they will be about 8 inches high.

Planting and propagation of chrysanthemum

When to plant chrysanthemum

Planting of seedlings of chrysanthemum in spring is carried out when night frosts pass, at the end of May or the beginning of June. Planting of chrysanthemum is also carried out in autumn, no later than two weeks before the first frosts. When choosing a planting spot for chrysanthemum, you should remember that this plant is heat- and sun-loving, and does not tolerate stagnation of water in the roots, so the planting site should be elevated, with the sun for at least five hours a day and reliably protected from wind. The soil should be neutral or weakly acidic, nutritious and loamy. Sandy or clay soil should be enriched with organic fertilizers. But chrysanthemum does not like rotted manure, preferring it to humus or biohumus that should be applied before planting of chrysanthemums together with combined fertilizer. Only do not overuse fertilizers, otherwise the plants begin growing of too much foliage and stop flowering.

How to plant chrysanthemum

It is better to plant chrysanthemum in the open ground in an overcast, or rainy day. Chrysanthemum should be planted not in the holes, but in the furrow, 12-20 inches apart, depending on the variety and species. After planting it is desirable to water the furrow with a solution of biostimulant at the rate of 0.03 oz per 35 fl oz of water for the plants to quickly form their root systems. Immediately after planting and watering, pinch the plants – remove the growth buds of chrysanthemum. Now cover the seedlings with garden cloth to create the most favorable microclimate for rooting and growth. Take away the cover only when you are sure that the seedlings have taken root and started growing.

Cuttings of chrysanthemums

Another way to propagate chrysanthemums is by cuttings. In spring, when the daytime temperature is 70-79ºF, cuttings are cut from the rhizome with a sharp clean knife (the lateral shoots are not good, use only those shoots that grow directly from the chrysanthemum root) slightly higher the leaf with the bud, the length of the cutting should be 2.4-2.7 inches. The lower end of the cuttings is dipped in a growth stimulant and stuck into a container with a moist fertile soil covered with a 0.8 inch layer of sand at an inclination of 35-45°. The cutting should remain in the sand without contacting the soil. While the chrysanthemum cuttings take root on the window sill, the soil in the container should be moist, and the air temperature should be 59-64ºF, and then in 2-3 weeks the cuttings will take roots and can be planted out into the open ground.

Care for the florist’ chrysanthemum

How to care for chrysanthemum

Planting and caring for chrysanthemum are not complex, but there are certain rules that every gardener should know. For example, when the seedlings, planted in the open ground, get stronger and the eighth leaf appear, they need to be nipped to promote bushier growth. For the same reason, you need to pinch young side shoots that will appear soon, and then you will get a pretty thick bush that will look like a fluffy ball when flowering. This rule does not apply to large-flowered chrysanthemums, their lateral shoots should be removed at all, keeping only a few of the strongest. Removed sprouts easily take root. Some tall varieties of chrysanthemums need staking and you can use metal pegs, nets or wire structures that will hold the bush and prevent it from falling apart.

As for moisturizing, every watering of chrysanthemums chrysanthemums should be generous: lack of moisture makes the stems woody, and the flowers get less attractive. Only rain or filtered water is used (you can add a couple of drops of ammonia into water). Avoid getting water on the leaves, pour water under the root. Watering is accompanied by loosening of the soil around the bush and the removal of weeds, unless you have mulched the site after planting.

Care for chrysanthemum includes feeding. During the vegetation period, at least three dressings of chrysanthemums are carried out alternating mineral and organic fertilizers. Among mineral fertilizers chrysanthemums prefer nitrogen fertilizers at the beginning of growth (ammonia nitrogen is best of all), as a result of which foliage actively grows. And in order to stimulate rich flowering of chrysanthemum, feed it with phosphorus-potassium fertilizers during budding. Use the solutions of fertilizers and pour them under the root the next day after rain or watering. The first fertilizing should take place in 6-8 weeks after planting. Among organic fertilizers, chrysanthemums like rotted mullein or bird droppings, but the golden rule of the florist says that it is better to underfeed a plant than to burn it with a fertilizer.

How to transplant chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum should not grow for more than three years at one place, otherwise it begins to be capricious: the flowers grow smaller, the plant often gets sick. Therefore in spring it is necessary to dig out the plants that have turned three years old and transplant them. Usually transplantation of chrysanthemum is accompanied by division of a bush – another way to propagate chrysanthemum. Carefully dig out the bush, trying not to damage the roots, shake the ground off and use a sharp knife or a pruner to divide the thickened bush into small bushes with roots. Now plant out these bushes in a sunny site in the usual way.

Diseases of chrysanthemums

If the site where chrysanthemums grow is overgrown, or you do not observe the gardening rules, this can lead to development of fungal diseases of chrysanthemums:

  • verticillium wilt (the fungus penetrates into the plant through the roots, turning the leaves yellow, and the stems die);
  • powdery mildew (it affects shoots, leaves, buds and flowers, covering them with a harmful white coating);
  • rust (all the aboveground parts of the plant are covered with chlorotic spots, which then become brown, the leaves turn yellow, the stems become thinner);
  • gray mold (there are fuzzy brown spots that gradually get covered with a fluffy coating causing decay).

The fungal infection can be cured with drugs containing copper – copper chloride, for example, successfully fights with late blight, gray mold and rust. Bordeaux mixture destroys powdery mildew and gray mold, and copper-soap emulsion and colloidal sulfur fights with rust. But the main thing is not to let chrysanthemums randomly grow, observe the rules of caring for plants and timely detect diseases in order to have time to save chrysanthemums.

Unfortunately, sometimes chrysanthemums get viral infections:

  • green mottle mosaic (mottled mosaic on the leaves of chrysanthemums);
  • aspermy (mottled leaves and deformation of flowers);
  • dwarfism (stunting and premature flowering).

Unfortunately, plants affected by viral diseases are incurable, so they need to be detected, digged out and destroyed in a timely manner. As a preventive measure, you should use sterile instruments when propagating the plants vegetatively, and control the insects as they are the sources of viruses.

Pests of chrysanthemums

Among insects, the nematodes are often the most harmful for chrysanthemums. They can be detected by mosaic spots on the leaves that eventually darken. It is useless to fight with them, but as a preventive measure before the autumn digging up or planting (transplanting) of chrysanthemums spray the plants with a solution of phosphamidum, and treat the soil with formalin. The plants infested by the nematode should be destroyed.

One more harmful pest for chrysanthemums is aphids, settling on the lower part of the leaf or bud. Insects, like their larvae, suck out the sap of the plant that slows down the growth and flowering of chrysanthemum. If you are dealing with a single colony of aphids, then it is destroyed along with the leaves on which it settled, but if the plant is covered with aphids, spray it with Actellic with the addition of laundry soap.

Chrysanthemum bush

Sometimes tarnished plant bugs settle on chrysanthemum, that along with its larvae feeds on the sap of plants, as well as aphids. Consequence is that the buds do not bloom, the leaves become spotty, brown and die. The plant infested with bugs are sprinkled with a solution of baby shampoo (1 teaspoon per 2.2 gallons of water). As a preventive measure, chrysanthemum bushes are treated with an insecticide.

Garden slugs and snails can be dangerous for chrysanthemums as they can devour leaves, flowers and stems of the plants. But in order to control them, you should apply an organic approach, that is, use soft methods of struggle, so as not to destroy the ecosystem of the garden, in which snails and slugs perform an important sanitary function. Therefore, in gardening preventive measures are welcomed: correct selection and combination of plants, natural control over the pests by attracting birds and so on. If the trouble happened and the slugs began devouring your chrysanthemums, collect them manually digging in the plastic rims around the bushes preventing the slugs from getting close to the bushes, sprinkle the soil around the bushes with ground eggshell that will not allow the snails to approach the plants ... Finally, you can place bowls with beer around your flower garden and then collect the “harvest” of slugs around them.

Chrysanthemums have faded – what to do

Chrysanthemum after flowering

At the beginning of autumn, for the last time feed your frost-resistant chrysanthemums with potash phosphorus fertilizers to increase their resistance to frost. With the onset of frosts, the aboveground parts of chrysanthemums overwintering in the garden (first of all, hardy chrysanthemum varieties with small flowers) are cut off at a height of 4-6 inches above the ground surface, carefully earthed up and mulched with a 12-16 inches layer of dry leaves. If winters in your area are too cold and snowless, mulch the area with brushwood or fir twigs. The covering should not be impenetrable otherwise the plant can start rotting under it.

How to store chrysanthemums in winter

Tall, large-flowered heat-loving varieties cannot survive winter in cold climate zones. Various methods are used to store them. Here is one of them: the bushes of chrysanthemums are dug out with a clod of soil, then they are placed in wooden boxes and stored in a light and cold room (36-43°F) with an air humidity of about 80%. If you do not have many bushes, put each of them in a separate container. Water chrysanthemums from time to time to keep the soil clod slightly moist. You can store the bushes with soil clod just in the cellar at a temperature of 32-39 °F on the earth floor, densely placing them near each other.

Garden chrysanthemum

There is another way to store chrysanthemums. To do this, a furrow is dug in the garden with a depth of 20 inches and of any width, into which chrysanthemums are placed, the space between them is filled with soil. Chrysanthemums are stored in an open furrow until the frost destroys the pathogens of fungal and viral diseases. With the onset of frost, the furrow is covered with boards or a wooden shield, a roofing slate or some other material forming a “lid” for the furrow on which foliage is placed, on top of the foliage a layer of soil is put, and then the covering material is placed and fixed not to be blown away with the wind. This way is inconvenient because it will be difficult for you to control the state of plants in winter.

Well, a final reminder is:

  • small-flowered, hardy chrysanthemums and Russian hybrids overwinter well in the open ground;
  • chrysanthemums grown in greenhouses, large-flowered chrysanthemums, foreign hybrids and new varieties of chrysanthemum you know a little about should be dug out before winter.
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