Chrysanthemums are the traditional Mother’s Day gift, and there’s no debate that they are well qualified to carry this mantle. In fact, I’ve never seen a mum scorn a child with, “What? More chrysanthemums?”
They’re like socks on Father’s Day, we just thank our kids for them and put them in an appropriate place. Wherever that may be!
But the beauty of chrysanthemums, like socks I guess, is that they come in so many different shapes and sizes. Just about every colour is catered for. Flower sizes differ, foliage textures are incredibly diverse and even the petals can resemble the iconic daisy look or can be like hairs on a toothbrush, or something even more incredibly different.
So, just because you bought your mum chrysanthemums last year doesn’t mean they can’t be an option again this year.
However, the challenge may be to try and grow your own rather than buy shop-bought chrysanthemums. If you’re planning to grow them from seed, I’m sad to say that you’ve missed the boat already. For us plant lovers in the southern hemisphere we’ll have to wait two more seasons before we can start planting out seeds while in the north it’s almost perfect for seeds to go in now, but they won’t be ready until Fall.
How to Grow Chrysanthemums From Seed
The best time to start planting out chrysanthemum seeds is mid-spring. Raise them in a good quality propagating mix and if possible start them on a heat mat (aff.) so that they get the best possible start.
When the seedlings start to produce more than their first two leaves (preferably after 4-6), you can gently prise them out of their seedling tray and replant into individual starter pots. Newspaper pots would be appropriate for this level. This stage usually takes between 4-6 weeks with a heat mat and may be up to 10 without one.
Care needs to be taken when moving chrysanthemum seedlings at this stage because they are so fragile and any stem damage will render them lifeless.
After a further 4 weeks in these small growing pots, your chrysanthemums can be repotted into 200mm pots and slowly introduced outdoors. They can remain indoors and fed artificial light indefinitely but if you plan to let them grow in the garden they will need to be acclimatised first.
How to Care For Your Chrysanthemums
Once chrysanthemums are established they are fairly easy to care for. Apply a liquid fertiliser when your mums are blooming at 3 weekly intervals and supplement this with a slow-release fertiliser at the start of their growing season.
Some gardeners treat chrsyanthemums as annuals and replace them year after year while others choose to prune them heavily and let them rebloom as biennials. They can even be treated as perennials if you have the right climate.
Deadhead the flowers after they’ve been spent to encourage more blooms and to discourage seed growth. If you’re after seed production remember that their seeds are incredibly tiny so you will have some work to do to distill the seed from the brown foliage.
And just when you thought you knew everything about chrysanthemums another use hits you between the eyes.
Apparently, chrysanthemums are a favourite ingredient in Chinese herbal teas. In fact, chrysanthemum tea has been used for centuries being used for warding off sore throats and helping people recover from the flu.
See, they’re a much better Mother’s Day gift than socks.