Chrysanthemums are real show-stoppers in the garden, with bushes bursting with colourful blooms through the autumn months.
With their main flowering season around May and their nickname of “mums”, they are synonymous with Mother’s Day and make a beautiful gift for the occasion.
Here are some tips on growing chrysanthemums, how to maintain these colourful plants and even how to make chrysanthemum tea.
Chrysanthemums are hardy to semi-hardy perennials that are part of the Compositae family. They grow well in containers, in sunny spots indoors and in flowerbed borders.
Native to East Asia and North-eastern Europe, they come in countless varieties and cultivars and have spread across the world, appearing in gardens all over Australia.
From white and yellow to pink, purple, rust and even green, chrysanthemums come in every colour of the rainbow.
Easy to grow, low maintenance and highly-rewarding, chrysanthemum plants create a splash of colour in almost any garden.
Types of Chrysanthemum
There are hundreds of types of chrysanthemum, with variations in bloom type, colour, flowering season, height and spread.
Here are some of the most common bloom types:
- Single – This is a very daisy-like variety with long petals. Popular varieties include Rage, Icy Island and Crimson Glory.
- Decorative – This variety has multiple rows of petals, creating a dense bloom with petals curling in towards the centre. Popular varieties include Fireflash, Coral Charm and Honeyglow.
- Pompom – This variety has a small, firm globe of petals resembling a pompom. Popular varieties include: Rocky, Yoko Ono and Lavender Pixie.
- Spoon – This bloom is similar to the single variety, with petals shaped like small spoons. Popular varieties include Kimie, Fantasy and Redwing.
- Anemone – Resembling a sea anemone, this variety has multiple rows of tubular petals with darker shades towards the centre and lighter shades on the outer rows.
Popular varieties include Dorothy Mechum, Purple Light and Angel.
- Cushion – A decorative variety with a cushion-shaped bloom. Popular varieties include Chiffon, Valour and Ruby Mound.
How to Grow Chrysanthemums
For the best results, chrysanthemums need to be positioned, planted and cared for the right way.
- Sun – To get the best growth and the most blooms, plant your seedlings in a sunny spot.
They are very sun-tolerant plants and require about 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
- Soil – These plants enjoy well-drained sandy or loamy soil with a soil pH of about 6.5.
It’s a good idea to mix in organic compost, bark chips and leaf mould before planting your seedlings.
- Water – Chrysanthemums are susceptible to mildew, so they need to be kept dry and in an area with good air circulation.
Water well in the morning whenever the first few centimetres of soil is dry. Avoid watering in the evening.
- Climate – Chrysanthemums grow in almost any climate, but are happiest in hot, sunny climates as they can develop mildew in humid environments.
- Nutrients – These plants are pretty tough and have low nutrient requirements, especially if the flower bed is well prepared with compost.
However, you can lightly feed them with a balanced all-purpose fertiliser during the spring and summer for the best results.
Planting Your Chrysanthemums
It’s best to plant your chrysanthemums in early spring after the last frost has passed, as this will get the plants established and ready for the autumn blooming season.
If you aren’t in an area that gets frost, you can plant them any time of year, keeping in mind that the roots need about 6 weeks to establish themselves and may require more watering if you plant them in the summer.
Here’s how to plant them:
- Prepare your flowerbed with organic compost, digging it over well.
- Dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball.
- Plant at the same depth as they were in their pot – do not bury the stem of the plant or it will rot. Pat the soil down firmly.
- Space seedlings about 40-50cm apart depending on the variety’s spread.
- Larger varieties may require stakes or support.
- Water well for the first 6 weeks, then once a week or as the weather allows.
How to Maintain and Prune Chrysanthemums
You’ll want your chrysanthemums to grow thick and bushy, so pinch off the tips of the growth (about 2cm) when they reach about 15cm tall and again at 30 cm.
To do this, simply use your fingers and fingernails to cut off tender new growth, just above the new leaf nodes. Stop pinching the growth back at about 100 days before the autumn blooming season.
It’s important to deadhead the blooms as they die off, as this extends their blooming season well into winter. Don’t cut the plant back in the winter.
Instead, clean it up a little and leave it alone to naturally die off and it will rebound strongly in the spring. Heavy pruning can actually stunt the plant.
Most varieties will deliver 3-4 seasons of quality blooms before the plant should be replaced.
How to Propagate Chrysanthemum Plants
There are three ways to propagate your chrysanthemum plants – by taking cuttings, through seeds, and through plant division.
Dividing Chrysanthemum Plants
Chrysanthemums like to be divided up as it gives the new plants space to grow. You can divide your chrysanthemums every 3 years or so.
- After the last spring frost, look for shoots that are about 10cm tall.
- Dig them up carefully, using your fingers to gently divide them up.
- Remove all woody or dead parts.
- Plant healthy divisions into a prepared flower bed.
Propagating Chrysanthemums from Cuttings
- Cut off new shoots that are about 10-15cm long using sterilised scissors or a knife.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.
- Dip into a root growth hormone.
- Plant into a small container of well-draining soil.
- Place in a bright light area and keep the soil moist.
- Plant when you see new leaf growth appearing.
Propagating Chrysanthemums from Seed
- Sow seeds in a prepared flowerbed either in late autumn if outdoors, or in winter if indoors or in a frost free area.
- The seeds will start to grow when the soil reaches 23 degrees, and takes 1-3 weeks.
- Keep the soil moist.
Pests and Diseases
Chrysanthemums are pretty tough, hardy plants, and tend to be very disease and pest-free if they are planted in the right area with well-draining soil.
However, there are some issues these plants may suffer from:
- White rust – Caused by a fungal infection, white rust appears as white blisters on the underside of the leaves of the plant as well as the stem.
Good air circulation and not wetting the plant, especially at night, can help prevent this. It can be treated with a general-purpose fungicide.
- Powdery mildew – This is a grey, dust-like fungus that flourishes where there is moisture and poor air circulation.
It can be treated with a general-purpose fungicide, but the best prevention is planting your chrysanthemums where they get plenty of sunshine and watering them only as needed, in the mornings.
- Aphids – These tiny green, yellow or black insects feed on the sap in the leaves and stems of the plant, and large infestations can kill the plant.
They also drop a sticky substance called honeydew, and can carry diseases between plants. It’s a good idea to encourage ladybugs and other beneficial insects in your garden to help prevent aphid infestations.
You can get rid of them by washing them off with a blast of water, using neem oil, or organic pest control.
How to Make Chrysanthemum Tea
Chrysanthemums have been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to make a tea well-known for its soothing qualities.
It is also said to help with inflammation, fevers, headaches and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Here’s how to make floral chrysanthemum tea.
- Harvest fresh chrysanthemum flowers
- Let them dry in a sunny spot or use a food dehydrator.
- Once dry, store them in a brown paper bag until you want to use them.
- Add several flowers to 3 cups of boiling water and leave to steep for 5 minutes. The more flowers you add, the stronger the tea will be.
- Add a teaspoon of honey for sweetness and drink as is.
Fill Your Garden with Colourful Chrysanthemums!
Whatever your colour scheme, you’ll find varieties of chrysanthemum that will bring your garden to life, adding a rainbow of colour in the autumn months.
This Mother’s Day favourite is hardy, easy to grow and loves the sunshine, making it a popular choice for Australian gardens.
Remember to plant in the early spring in well-draining soil, water regularly without letting the plant get too wet, and pinch back new growth in the early summer to get the best results.
If you have any questions about growing or caring for chrysanthemums, please get in touch!