Chrysanthemums, fall’s favorite flower, are renowned for their vibrant blooms. These plants have captivated gardeners around the world for hundreds of years. Fortunately, chrysanthemum plant care is straightforward and easy enough for even a beginner to replicate.
The key to chrysanthemum care is controlling temperature and moisture, whether you’re growing them indoors or outside in the garden.
Chrysanthemums vary greatly in form, size, and color and grow easily in many climates. The blooms are long-lasting when used for cut flowers, making them a florist’s favorite.
One of chrysanthemums’ best attributes is that they bloom in the fall, providing some last-minute color to the garden.
What is a Chrysanthemum Plant?
Chrysanthemums can be either annual or perennial, depending on the variety. They have a wide range of native habitats, including meadows, woodlands, rocky slopes, and riverbanks.
They have a mature height of 1 to 3 feet with a spread of about 1 to 2 feet, with a compact growth habit.
They are classified as either greenhouse types, commonly grown indoors for décor, or garden or hardy types for planting outdoors.
History of the Chrysanthemum Plant
The name Chrysanthemum comes from two Greek words — “chrysos,” meaning “gold,” and “anthos,” meaning “flower.” Literally, the name means golden flower.
The history of chrysanthemum stretches back over 2,500 years. Originating in China, they were first cultivated as medicinal herbs. Their popularity grew rapidly, and they eventually became associated with nobility and virtue.
They are often associated with celebrations and festivals.
In Japan, chrysanthemums became the national flower, representing the Imperial Family.
In traditional Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum tea was often used for headaches and to reduce inflammation.
Today, chrysanthemums are beloved worldwide more for their ornamental and symbolic value than for medicinal purposes.
Throughout the centuries, chrysanthemums were selectively bred, leading to the development of numerous cultivars with different colors, forms, and sizes.
Let’s take a look at some notable types of Chrysanthemums:
Allouise Pink Chrysanthemum
Originating from the United States in the late 20th century, Allouise Pink is known for its delicate pink, daisy-like blooms.
Anastasia Green Chrysanthemum
Anastasia Green, from the Netherlands, features lime green flowers with a distinctive, spiky form.
Bolero Chrysanthemum Yellow
Bolero is known for large, bright yellow flowers. Developed in the 20th century, Bolero features a classic daisy-like form with overlapping petals.
Clara Curtis Chrysanthemum Pink
Clara Curtis chrysanthemum is a perennial cultivar from the U.S. It’s known for its small, delicate, pale pink flowers that form dense clusters. It is also a favorite flower of butterflies and bees.
Fireglow Bronze Chrysanthemum Bronze
Fireglow Bronze chrysanthemums were cultivated in Europe and boast fiery bronze-colored flowers, with semi-double or double blooms.
Grandchild Chrysanthemum Multi Color
This Japanese chrysanthemum cultivar is a cushion type. Developed in the 19th century, they feature showy red, pink, lavender, or yellow petals with darker centers.
Hillside Sheffield Pink Chrysanthemum
Hillside Sheffield Pink chrysanthemums originated in the United Kingdom. They have soft pink petals with bright yellow centers, giving a daisy-like appearance.
Ja Dank Chrysanthemum White
Ja Dank chrysanthemums are known for brilliant white blooms with a unique petal arrangement of tightly packed, semi-double layers.
Matchsticks Chrysanthemum Yellow and Red
Matchsticks are a hardy mum from the U.S. that features bi-color flowers with a striking combination of yellow and red tones. The petals have a unique tubular form, resembling miniature matchsticks.
Moonbeam Chrysanthemum White
Moonbeam chrysanthemums are a solid white pompom variety that resembles a full moon.
Radiant Igloo Chrysanthemum Yellow
Radiant Igloo chrysanthemums from the Netherlands have small, bright yellow blooms.
Regal Mist Purple Chrysanthemum
Regal Mist Purple chrysanthemums from the U.S. have deep purple flowers with a fully double bloom form.
Symphony Chrysanthemum Yellow and Orange
Symphony is a spider chrysanthemum developed in the U.S. Its pale yellow petals and bright orange center resemble a firework explosion.
Yellow Quill Mammoth Mum
Yellow Quill Mammoth Mums were developed in the U.S. and produce bright yellow, quill-like flowers of 3 to 4 inches.
Chrysanthemum Plant Care in Pots Indoors
Chrysanthemums plant care indoors means providing optimal conditions for the best blooms.
For chrysanthemums care in pots, maintain cooler temperatures between 60°F and 70°F. Avoid placing them near drafts or heating vents.
Chrysanthemums thrive best in bright, indirect light. Place them near a window with eastern or western exposure or provide a grow light.
Use a well-draining potting mix with plenty of organic matter. Chrysanthemums prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil with good moisture retention.
Chrysanthemums prefer moderate humidity levels. Avoid misting the foliage directly, as it leads to fungal diseases.
Keep the potting soil moist at all times and water when the top of the soil has become dry. Provide a self-watering plant container, if possible.
For chrysanthemum care in pots, you’ll need to feed every two to three weeks during the growing season. Choose a fertilizer for blooming plants.
To maintain a compact and bushy shape, pinch back the growing tips of your chrysanthemum plants when they reach about 8-10 inches in height. This encourages branching and more flower buds.
Remove spent flowers to prolong blooming and promote continuous flowering.
Special Problems With Growing Chrysanthemums Indoors
Greenhouse chrysanthemums can’t complain out loud, but they certainly have a way to tell you they’re not happy.
Underwatering is the most likely reason the plant is wilting. Even a short period of dryness will cause the lower leaves to wilt, dry up, and fall off.
Short Flowering Period
If the flowers fade too soon, the plant is probably too warm. Temperatures over 75°F result in the flowers rapidly opening and then wilting.
Flower Buds Fail to Open
The major reason chrysanthemum buds don’t open is lack of light.
Pests and Diseases
Common pests that affect chrysanthemums indoors include aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. Regularly inspect the foliage for signs of infestation and treat accordingly with insecticidal soap.
Fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew and botrytis blight, occur in humid conditions. Ensure good air circulation around the plants and avoid wetting the foliage to prevent these diseases.
Chrysanthemum Care in the Garden
Chrysanthemums thrive in any good garden soil. They prefer sunny, well-drained soils that contain some humus.
Garden chrysanthemums normally bloom in late summer and fall, In winter, the foliage may die back, and the plants enter a period of dormancy.
USDA Growing Zones
Chrysanthemums are suitable for USDA hardiness zones 5 to 9. However, specific cultivars may have different hardiness requirements, so it’s essential to choose varieties suitable for your region.
Garden chrysanthemums thrive in full sun, with at least six hours of direct sunlight per day.
Plant chrysanthemums in spring or early summer to allow them to establish before the blooming season.
How to Plant Chrysanthemums Outdoors:
Choose healthy chrysanthemum plants from a reputable nursery or garden center.
- Prepare the planting area by loosening the soil and incorporating compost to improve soil fertility.
- Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and place the plant in the hole. Plant with the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil surface.
- Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots.
- Water thoroughly to settle the soil and remove any air pockets.
Water newly planted chrysanthemums deeply immediately after planting to ensure good root establishment.
After the initial watering, water the plants regularly. Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Fertilizing Outdoor Chrysanthemums:
Before planting, incorporate a balanced, slow-release fertilizer into the soil. This provides a steady supply of nutrients as the plant grows.
As the plants start to develop new growth, apply a fertilizer specifically formulated for flowering plants.
Typically, chrysanthemums benefit from feeding every four to six weeks during the growing season.
Winter Mums Care
Chrysanthemums have varying hardiness levels depending on the cultivar and your growing zone.
Here are some general tips for caring for chrysanthemums over winter:
In regions where chrysanthemums are winter-hardy (typically USDA zones 5-9), leave the plants in the ground and mulch heavily around the base of the plants to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.
In colder regions where chrysanthemums are not reliably hardy, dig up the plants in late autumn after they have finished blooming. Trim back the stems and carefully lift the root clumps into containers to store in a cool, dark place until spring.
Creating Your Own Chrysanthemum Plant
You can propagate chrysanthemums through division, stem cuttings, and seed sowing.
Here’s a breakdown of each method:
Dividing chrysanthemum plants is an effective way to propagate them. This method is best done in early spring or early fall when the plants are not actively blooming.
Follow these steps to propagate chrysanthemums through division:
- Dig up the mature chrysanthemum plant, taking care not to damage the roots.
- Gently separate the clump into smaller sections, ensuring each section has healthy roots and shoots.
- Plant the divided sections in prepared soil or grower’s pots and cover with soil.
- Water the newly divided plants thoroughly and keep soil consistently moist until they start to show new growth.
Propagating chrysanthemums from stem cuttings is another method that allows you to create new plants.
Here’s how to do it:
- Select a healthy, non-flowering stem from the chrysanthemum plant. The stem should be firm and disease-free.
- Using clean and sharp pruning shears, take a cutting that is around 4-6 inches long. Remove any lower leaves, leaving only a few at the top.
- Dip the cut end of the stem in rooting hormone powder to promote root development.
- Insert the cutting into a well-draining potting mix or a mix of perlite and peat moss. Ensure that at least half of the stem is buried in the medium.
- Place the pot in a warm location with bright, indirect light. Mist the cutting regularly to maintain humidity.
- After a few weeks, the cutting should develop roots. Gently tug on it to check for resistance, indicating that roots have formed.
- Once rooted, transfer the cutting to a larger container or plant it directly in the garden, following the care guidelines mentioned earlier.
While chrysanthemums can be propagated from seeds, this method is less common, as it can take longer to produce flowering plants.
If you wish to try seed propagation, follow these steps:
- Start by obtaining chrysanthemum seeds from a reliable source or collect them from mature plants in your garden.
- Sow the seeds in a seed tray or small pots filled with a well-draining seed starting mix.
- Lightly press the seeds into the soil, but do not bury them too deeply.
- Place the tray or pots in a warm and bright location, ensuring they receive indirect sunlight.
- Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
- After germination, thin out the seedlings, leaving the healthiest and strongest ones.
- When the seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves, you can transplant them into individual pots or into the garden.
Deadheading Chrysanthemum Plants
Deadheading is an essential maintenance practice for chrysanthemum plants. Remove spent flowers to improve the plant’s appearance and encourage additional blooms.
Here’s how to deadhead chrysanthemum plants:
- Deadhead chrysanthemums when the flowers start to fade or wilt.
- Use a pair of clean, sharp garden scissors or pruning shears.
- Examine the plant for faded, wilted, or discolored flowers.
- Locate the base of the flower stem where it emerges from the plant.
- Position your scissors or pruning shears just above the first set of full-sized leaves or lateral bud.
- Make a clean cut at a 45-degree angle.
- Remove the spent flowers and compost them.
Deadhead regularly throughout the blooming season to encourage the plant to produce new buds, for an extended and abundant flowering display.
Chrysanthemum Plant Ideas for the Garden
If you’re looking to create a cohesive and visually appealing garden, consider pairing chrysanthemums with other flowers that share similar growing conditions. Chrysanthemum plant care is similar to that for the following popular garden flowers.
Marigolds thrive in similar sunlight and soil conditions as chrysanthemums, and their vibrant orange and yellow flowers complement the chrysanthemum’s blooms.
Zinnias offer a wide range of colors and flower forms, making them an excellent choice to complement chrysanthemums.
Salvia’s spiky flowers and vibrant colors provide an attractive contrast alongside chrysanthemums.
Chrysanthemums as Companion Plants
Using chrysanthemums as companion plants in vegetable gardens offer a holistic approach to gardening. It promotes biodiversity and supports the health of your garden ecosystem.
Here are some considerations and potential advantages:
Chrysanthemums contain natural compounds called pyrethrins, which are known for their insecticidal properties. So, plant these near vegetables to repel pests, such as aphids, spider mites, and nematodes.
Chrysanthemums produce abundant nectar and are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators.
They attract and support these pollinators, which enhances fruit set and overall yield in your vegetable garden.
When using chrysanthemums as companion plants for vegetables, consider the following tips:
- Plant chrysanthemums near vegetables that are prone to pests, such as tomatoes, peppers, or cabbage.
- Opt for chrysanthemum varieties known for their pest-repellent properties, such as ‘Pyrethrum.’
Chrysanthemums, with their wide variety of colors and shapes, make a wonderful addition to both indoor and outdoor gardens. The good news is that Chrysanthemum plant care is easy for even beginner gardeners. Whether grown indoors in containers or outdoors in the garden, chrysanthemums are a visual feast for the eyes.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Sep 9, 2012, and has been completely updated.