Chrysanthemum is a Greek word meaning "golden flower". They have been cultivated for over 3,000 years in China and are the national flower of Japan.
The 150 natural species have produced thousands of hybrids. There are single and double, annual and perennial forms from tiny miniatures that fit in a bonsai dish to towering 2m. giants with flowers up to 23cm.
in many shapes and all colours except blue and purple. Plants are hardy to cold and coastal conditions and are so tough they are often lifted to fill holes in the garden while in full flower.
While some species bloom in summer, peak flowering of C. x morifolium, the florist "mum",
is late autumn when colour is scarce. They need full sun and a slightly acid, well drained soil rich in manure.
A mulch of old leaves and peat moss protects shallow roots from drying out. Liquid feeding as buds show colour to increase flower size and quality.
If bushy plants and many smaller blooms are desired, pinch the growing tip out now. Larger blooms of better quality come when each stem is disbudded allowing at most only a few buds to develop.
Soft cuttings taken now will strike quickly in sand if kept warm and moist. These can be
grown on in a glasshouse for winter blooms or held over in the cold frame to plant out next spring.
Plants can also be established from basal cuttings, division and seed in spring. Fungal attack is easily controlled with copper or a systemic rose spray.
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