Hardy Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum morifolium, also called chrysanthemum hortorum.

Hardy chrysanthemums, or florist’s chrysanthemums, are a variety of the big chrysanthemum family. They all are long lasting when cut and have a pleasing fragrance. These late blooming flowers are the most dependable and varied of all perennials. Its colors range from white, shades of yellow, pink, lavender, red and bronze. Many flowers combine two colors. The upright plants have 1-3 foot stiff stalks rising from clumps of foliage. Cushion types grow only 9-15 inches tall but may spread up to 30 inches across. They bear so many short stem flowers that the leaves are completely obscured.

The various blossom types of hardy chrysanthemums are as follows:

Button chrysanthemum flowers are small and have petals that hug the center of the flower so tightly that they look as if they have been trimmed. They bloom in long stemmed clusters in fall.

Pompom chrysanthemums have 1-2 inch flowers that bloom in clusters on long stems. They may be yellow centered single type with loosely arranged petals or heavily petaled doubles.

Decorative chrysanthemums have big double flowers measuring 2-4 inches across that bloom from late summers to fall.

Single-flowered chrysanthemums have daisy petaled flowers with slightly rounded central disks. One of its strains, Korean Hybrid, has semi double blossoms as well as singles.

These six types blossom late and require special protection from rain and frost in a greenhouse or temporary shelters. Hence, they are not recommended for perennial borders.

1. Spoon-flowered chrysanthemums have tubular petals; the ends of the petals flare into the shape of a spoon and are often lighter in color than the rest of the petal. The 3 to 5 inch flowers bloom in late fall.

2. Quill-flowered chrysanthemums are similar to the Spoon-flowered chrysanthemums except that the ends of the tubular petals are closed.

3. Anemone-flowered chrysanthemums have single or double blossoms with pincushion like centers. The 3-foot plants bloom in late fall.

4. Spider chrysanthemums (also called Fuji chrysanthemums) have unique petals. They are long, arching and curved upwards at the ends. To channel the plant's energies into those top flowers, all blossoms except those at the top one on each stem are disbudded. This results in larger blooms.

5. Exhibition chrysanthemums, also called commercial or football chrysanthemums, are the giants of the genre. They too must be disbudded to produce the large 6-8 inch flowers.

6. Cascade chrysanthemums are mostly single flowered and have 4-6 foot long extremely flexible stems.

All chrysanthemums thrive in the full sun and need soil that has been enriched with organic material like compost, leaf mold or cow manure. The plant requires ample watering during summer and good drainage during winter. Plants should be grown 1 to 2 feet apart depending on their size.

Hardy chrysanthemums require more attention because they show good output if the plant has been reset each year. Buy growing plants and fertilize them when they are 6-8 inches tall. Repeat every week until the buds show color. Pinch off the top of the stems to make hardy chrysanthemums bushier. Dig up a plant in fall and set it in a cold frame. Put a light mulch of salt hay or straw over the plants. To propagate new plants, cut off stolons or underground stems. The stolons are lighter in color than the rest of the roots and spread out at the base of the plants with new leaves at their tips. Only one stolon is needed to make a full size plant by fall. Hardy chrysanthemums become dull after one year of flowering. The blooms are smaller and fewer, so discard the clump after removing the stolons.