Chrysanthemums: Mums

Family: Asteraceae
Common name: Chrysanthemums, Mums, Chrysanths

Chrysanthemums or Mums as they are lovingly called, are a wonderful addition to your garden during fall filling your garden with bright beautiful flowers. They usually bloom from August to November; the hardy varieties can bloom over a longer period of time. The most commonly seen colors are yellow and white, though there are over 20,000 cultivars in various sizes and colors.

Chrysanthemums were cultivated in China in the 15th century BC. They are favorites in Japan too, where the emperor’s throne is called the Chrysanthemum throne and the Imperial seal has a Chrysanthemum flower on it. There are Chrysanthemum festivals and exhibitions held in various part of Japan during the fall season.

Chrysanthemum plants are hardy, perennials growing to a height of 3 feet and spreading to the same diameter. Leaves are dark green, and multi-lobed with smooth edges. Leaves towards the tip are small and without distinct lobes. Flowers are made up of ray florets towards the outer edges and disc florets at the center.

Chrysanthemums are classified as single, double, semi-double, anemone, irregular incurve, intermediate incurve, regular incurve, pompom, spoon, reflex etc. based on the size and curvature of petals. There are so many types of flowers, that there is an unclassified category as well, of flowers that do not fall into any of the other categories.

It is better to plant Chrysanthemums during spring, so that they will acclimatize to your garden and bloom well by fall. They need regular watering and fertilization, also good direct sunlight to grow and bloom. The plants are usually not pruned, but the upper couple of inches of stem can be pinched to encourage a thicker plant.

Though Chrysanthemums are grown mostly as ornamental plants, they also have culinary and medicinal uses. Chrysanthemum flowers are used for making tea and rice wine. The flowers are also used in soups, broth and sashimi. Flowers have insecticidal properties, but are not harmful for bigger animals or pets. Flowers and leaves are used in treating skin diseases and eye inflammations.

Propagation is from cuttings, seeds or by grafting, though seed propagation is quite difficult to accomplish.

Image Credits: Sonia Jerin Joseph, love4gardening

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