Chrysanthemums have been cultivated in China and Japan for 3000 years. There are 150 species and thousands of hybrids. The modern garden "mum" is a many-crossed hybrid from 3 wild species, recently reclassified and now called Dendranthema.
They grow in most well-drained soils. Humus and decayed manure are highly beneficial. They are gross feeders preferring small amounts given frequently. Ample watering over summer and autumn is essential. Their shallow roots respond well to mulching.
Taller spider, decorative, pom-pom and giant flowered forms will need staking. The cascade forms make striking basket and window box plants trailing to 1.5m. Cushion and Charm varieties are hardy, compact shrubs 30-60cm tall and at least as wide literally smothered
with tiny aster-like flowers.
Dendranthema naturally bloom in autumn as their flowering is dependent on short days and longer nights. They can be forced throughout the year by artificially creating these conditions. In colder districts pots are often grown in the ground outdoors and brought indoors or under protection for autumn flowering.
Once flowering finishes cut the stalks to near the ground. In Early Spring take fresh stem cuttings or offshoots with a stolon and root attached (Dutch cutting). These quickly strike in sand and can be planted out once weather is settled. Stem cuttings taken during the growing season also strike easily in loose potting mix, peat or sand. They often do best when each cutting is dipped into hormone gel or powder then dropped into a hole made with a dibble. One or many more such cuttings are started in a container. They strike faster if the container is placed within a plastic bag that acts like a small glasshouse or terrarium .
Chrysthamenums are remarkably versatile to pinching and pruning. Pinching out growing tips repeatedly over the season will make bushy, floriferous plants with many smaller flowers. To create giant exhibition blooms, remove all but one to three main shoots, stake and disbud. In the Southern Hemisphere, the last 'safe' date to pinch back Chrysanthemums is usually Valentines day. In Northern Hemisphere gardens this translates to mid August. Cuttings struck from this final pinching will often still produce a few flowers that same Autumn.
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