How to plant and grow chrysanthemum

Love a chrysanthemum? This Mother’s Day favourite can be much more than just a bunch of cut flowers.

What you need to know about chrysanthemum

Name: mums, chrysanthemums, florist’s chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum sp., C. x grandiflorum cvrs. and C. morifolium cvrs.)

Plant type: flowering woody or herbaceous perennials

Height: generally less than .5m

Foliage: variable shapes, generally heavily lobed, deep matt green, often strongly aromatic if crushed.

Climate: warm temperate, sheltered areas of cool temperate, milder sub-tropical areas. All zones as potted indoor plants.

Soil: regular garden soil—avoid clay or sandy soil. Premium potting mix if growing in containers.

Position: full sun, but will benefit from protection from hot afternoon sun. Wind protection preferred.

Flowering: late summer through autumn.

Feeding: annual controlled-release fertiliser; supplement with organic fortified liquid feeding.

Watering: only moderate requirements once established in the garden. In pots, water well when approaching dry.


Appearance and characteristics of chrysanthemum

The chrysanthemum produces a gorgeous, long-lasting cut flower that’s seen for sale just about everywhere around Mother’s Day. But did you know that they can also make excellent garden and potted plants? They are quite easy-care, and are reliable bloomers, even for gardening beginners and black-thumbs.

Known primarily for its amazing flowers, the chrysanthemum looks spectacular in bloom. As a garden or potted plant it is rarely taller than 50cm, and is often wider than it is tall, often forming a dome or bun shape. Having been heavily hybridised, there is great variation in the flowers, from classic, flat, daisy-like blooms to almost globe-shaped flowers.

Most often seen in whites and yellows, the chrysanthemum is available in almost every conceivable colour, from delicate pastels to bold reds, oranges and purples and every hue in-between! The foliage is generally a very deep green and has a distinct matt texture with no shine at all.

Growing chrysanthemum in the garden

Chrysanthemum makes an excellent bedding plant, using smaller forms for borders and larger ones as feature colour. It’s a great addition to the garden for providing cut flowers.

Growing chrysanthemum in pots

Chrysanthemum can be grown in pots either indoors or outdoors. Outdoors, pots make a brilliant feature plant for a table centrepiece, free-standing pot or a pot on a plinth, where the blooms are brought closer to eye height. Indoors, a chrysanthemum in a pot forms the ultimate living bunch of flowers. Given a sunny spot indoors it can keep flowering for weeks, if not a month or more.

Chrysanthemums given as flowering pot plants can be planted into the garden or outdoor pots after their flowering season has finished. You can keep this beautiful gift alive for years to come.

How to plant and grow chrysanthemum

Being a perennial, chrysanthemum is fast to grow and needs the sunlight hours to allow this to happen. This means it likes a full-sun position. However, if you are in a spot where afternoon sun can get too harsh, give them some protection from this.

Chrysanthemum does well in typical garden soil, but do avoid any soil where it may get too wet or dry, such as clay or sandy soils.

Although not essential, chrysanthemums will look and perform better if they are protected from harsh or drying winds.

Planting chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum will perform better if soil is improved before planting. Blend through some planting compost or well-composted manure. Then add controlled-release fertiliser to both the hole and to the surface post-planting. Mulch well with lucerne or pea straw, as this will speed up establishment and reduce water demands. Just make sure the mulch isn’t pushed against the stems.

When potting into a decorative pot or a larger pot use a premium-quality potting mix suitable for flowering plants. Additional fertiliser should not be required. Ensure the pot has good drainage, as mums don’t like wet feet.

Caring for chrysanthemum

There will be variations in care based on the species and variety you are growing, so check the label for any specific requirements.

Although chrysanthemum is quite hardy, best performance will come if your chrysanthemum is kept reliably moist. This doesn’t mean wet. In the garden, mulch will help keep soil moisture stable. In pots, just apply the finger test—stick your finger into the mix and if it’s dry below about 2cm, water gently.

An annual application of controlled-release fertiliser will keep your mums looking great. Supplementing this by occasionally liquid feeding with an organically fortified product will improve general growth and flowering.

Ensure potted indoor plants are in a warm sunny location, but avoid direct afternoon sun. When possible, give them a break outside every few days. This is the ideal time to give them a good watering, too.

Pruning chrysanthemum

There will be variations in pruning based on the species and variety of chrysanthemum, so check the label for any specific requirements.

If growing for more than a season, your chrysanthemum will require a hard pruning after their season. How hard will vary with the type. The herbaceous varieties will virtually die back to ground level, so you’ll just need to tidy them up. The woody forms will need to be cut back to short stems, removing any dead or damaged stems.

If you are growing for larger blooms to cut for the vase, reduce the number of flower buds that pop up. This will concentrate energy in the smaller number of blooms, resulting in larger individual flowers.

For general growing, prune younger chrysanthemum plants to encourage bushiness and density. Remove any flowers as they finish, as this can help bring on additional, albeit smaller, flowers.

Pests and diseases affecting chrysanthemums

Healthy chrysanthemum plants encounter very few pest or disease problems. Aphids may be an issue on new flower stems, and mites can colonise plants that are too congested. Talk to a plant expert in your nursery for advice on the best treatments for your situation.

Growing chrysanthemums from cuttings

Most chrysanthemum propagation will be done by division of older plants.

Carefully lift or de-pot the plants in spring as new shoots are starting to appear. Use a sharp garden knife or spade to divide, removing any obviously dead or diseased parts as you do. Replant as soon as possible after division, following the planting instructions above.

If you like this then try

Japanese maple: chrysanthemum is a traditional plant in Japanese gardens.

Daffodil: as your mums finish for the year, your daffodils will start to fill the gaps, giving you a wonderful seasonal change.

Gladioli: add some extra bling to your cut flower garden.

Start planting today

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