Heirloom Chrysanthemums are a late summer to fall blooming perennial that are easy to care for and grow. They will reward you with flowers when most of the flowers in the garden have fizzled out.
When you get your heirloom chrysanthemums you will want to keep them in a protected area until after any threat of frost has passed. Many chrysanthemums are grown in heated greenhouses and may not be acclimated to cold so a hard frost will damage new growth.
Once the threat of frost has passed chrysanthemums should be planted in soil amended with organic matter that is well-draining. Chrysanthemums need consistent moisture, but do not like to have wet feet and may rot if they are in an area that does not drain well.
Aim to get your chrysanthemums planted no later than June 1st. Chrysanthemums like sun so plant them in an area that gets about 8 hours of sun per day. Some afternoon shade in the hottest part of the day is ok.
Once it warms up your chrysanthemums will begin to grow tall fairly quickly and will need to be ‘pinched’ (or snipped back) to encourage lateral growth. They can be pinched back to the 2nd or 3rd set of leaves when they are about 4-6” tall.
The piece that is pinched off (if big enough) can be put into soil and grown into a new plant. This can be done several times throughout the season to increase your stock. Growth that is firm, but not woody, and has a node or two is best for cuttings. Rooting hormone can be used but is not completely necessary.
Continue to pinch your chrysanthemums through the end of June. Do not pinch later than July 4th. If you do so you may not get blooms this year.
Chrysanthemums are heavy feeders when they are growing in the spring. There is a lot of information out there on fertilization.
This is what is recommended by the Evergreen Chrysanthemum Association:
Mums like a mild fertilizer. Most Rose fertilizers work well. Start adding a small amount of fertilizer to supplement the soilless mix at each potting and about every three weeks after each potting. We recommend 3 different soluble fertilizer formulations:
- March, April and May: 12-45-10 or 9-45-15 – low on nitrogen and high on phosphorous for strong root development. Use up through 6” pots.
- June July and August: 20-10-20 – A very good formulation for the mid-season where strong plant structure and foliage are developed. Use in Final pots until bud formation.
- September and October: 15-10-30 Potash special. Use during bloom formation, Sept and Oct. the high Potash hardens off the plant and enhances bloom formation, luster and life.
Taller Chrysanthemums will need some sort of support to keep from falling over when they get heavy with blooms. That can be Hortnova netting, bamboo stakes, a tomato cage, or oven other plants.
Chrysanthemums are triggered to set buds when the day length begins to shorten. For this reason, Chrysanthemums should not be grown by a light source, such as a as a street or porch light.
If you choose to disbud for larger flowers, you can pinch all buds off except for the largest on each stem.
Cut the flowers when they are nearly fully open. They will not open much after they are cut. Chrysanthemums have an incredible vase life, often lasting 2 weeks after cutting.
If you want to grow new plants next year it is best to dig up your ‘mother’ plant at the end of the season and bring her to a protected area where she will be kept fairy dry for the winter. An unheated greenhouse, a garage, or even under an eave will work. Just don’t forget about her!
If you choose to leave your chrysanthemums in the ground spread a layer of mulch around the base and do not cut them back until spring when new growth begins to emerge.
Once spring comes around you can use your mother plants to take cuttings from and make new plants! While chrysanthemums do perennialize, the plants bloom best from new cuttings rather than the original mother plant.
If you think you’d like to grow some chrysanthemums you can check out our selection HERE
I definitely recommend giving them a try!