Autumn has arrived! Join me on a stroll around the block. Indulge in that cool, crisp air, as we spy with our little eyes the quintessential icon of autumn. When most plants begin to fade, this plant is just revving up. Delivering an aesthetically pleasing palate of colors for the harvest season.
Originally cultivated in East Asia, thousands of years ago. Today, we have about 40 different wild species and thousands of various cultivars have derived over the centuries.
Do you have anything in mind?
It’s a perennial, with the proper care. Despairingly, they’re often portrayed as a decorative seasonal prop and disregarded like it’s some sort of pathetic annual.
It’s time to surrender your final answer. What do you think?
Yep, you guessed it. You really know your plants!
It’s the Chrysanthemum, or mum for short.
We have two classifications of mums. The biggest difference being the hardiness of the plant.
Florist mums – Grown and sold in floral shops, these mums are not very hardy. They grow best in warmer climates. When planted outside, in gardens further north, they struggle to withstand the winter elements. They will ultimately fail to return the following year.
Garden mums – These are referred to as hardy mums. They produce a stolon; a horizontal stem that stays under the soil. This stolon allows the plant to come back year after year. Garden mums are typically sold at grocery stores and garden centers. Support your smaller garden centers whenever possible.
Three different techniques can be utilized to grow mums.
Growing mums from seed can be a trip. I do not advise this if you want the best looking flower. For starters, they will need to be germinated indoors. Scatter 3 or 4 seeds on a small drainable container filled with seed-starting potting mix. Lightly cover the seeds with the mix and moisten the soil. Use a spray bottle and apply gentle sprays at first. Let them sit in a sunny area with a stable temperature around 70 degrees. In two weeks, seedlings will form and once you see a few leaves, separate the 3 plants into their own pots.
The second method is easier than growing chrysanthemums from seed. It should be done in late spring or early summer.
Find the stem from the top of the plant and cut off a piece, about 2 or 3 inches long. Remove any leaves from the bottom of the cut section. Dip the part of the stem you will replant, in honey. This acts as a rooting hormone and reduces fungal or bacterial growth. Place the stem in nutrient rich soil and keep moist.
This technique uses a sharp blade to cut or split right through the plant and roots. This turns one plant into two. Plant them as normal and both plants should flourish.
Water your chrysanthemums every couple of days. There is a common misconception, since it’s not as hot in the summer, chrysanthemums don’t need to be watered as much. Au contraire, be sure to water every few days until the winter freeze sets in.
There are 13 categories of chrysanthemum.
- Irregular Incurve
- Regular Incurve
- Single bloom
The chrysanthemum was first cultivated as an herb thousand of years ago in China. Dried yellow and white petals are boiled in water to make tea. This tea has a multitude of abilities. It’s said to balance blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Helps one cope with stress and calm anxiety. Relieves headaches and aids in digestion. In general, chrysanthemum tea just makes people feel better. It remains very popular in Chinese tradition today.
Chrysanthemum flower petals and leaves are edible. With so many varieties, the taste also varies. Some are bitter tasting, others are sweet or tangy. Be sure to steam or boil before consumption and careful not to overcook. They can spoil quickly. A 30-second boil and letting the water cool will suffice.
The chrysanthemum looms large in many societies around the world. In China it is one of the “four gentlemen.” Each gentlemen represents a season, you can probably guess which season the chrysanthemum has, it’s the fall. Japan has a “festival of happiness” every year. This is a celebration of the flower held on September 9th.
Americans have made this a popular choice for fall cultural rituals. Mums are planted across many landscapes. They provide a pleasant fall accent and can be a sign of friendship or happiness.
We arrived back home from our jaunt around the neighborhood. The seasonal decor of gourds, cornstalks and scarecrows are such a delight. We are left with a few fun facts for our fantastic fall flowers.
They are the second most popular flower in existence, after the rose. The fall accent appeal makes them a delight in societies all over the world.
One reason these flowers become elongated or stringy is because they’re stretching for more sun. Make sure to plant them with plenty of sun to keep them happy.
Cut back stems and leaves to a few inches, before winter sets in. This will ensure they come back happy and healthy the following year.
See ya next time!