The Chrysanthemums Flower
The chrysanthemum flower, which is more commonly known as mums or chrysanths, belongs to the genus Chrysanthemum and the family Asteraceae.
This genus consists of approximately 30 different species of perennial flowering plants that are native to Asian and Northeastern Europe.
The word “chrysanthemum” itself comes from the Greek words χρυσός (khrusos, “gold”) and νθεμον (anthemon, “flower”).
The first chrysanthemum seeds were cultivated in China in the fifteenth century BC. A city was then named after them (Ju-Xian, “chrysanthemum city”). Eventually chrysanthemum parthemiums became especially significant during the Double Ninth Festival.
In the eighth century CE chrysanthemums were brought to Japan where the emperor adopted these flowers as his official seal. Today there is a “Festival of Happiness” celebrating the flower.
Finally the chrysanthemum made its way to Europe in the seventeenth century. This is where Linnaeus gave it its Greek name, which stuck with it today.
Description and Characteristics
Chrysanthemums were originally a small yellow flower. There are now several chrysanthemum varieties available. As such there has gone from being 35 varieties to more than 3,000 now. These are annual and perennial herbs that are a member of the daisy flower (compositae).
They have red, white and yellow blossoms (ranging from daisylike to shaggy in appearance) in the late summer or fall. The Chinese varieties are the tallest (reaching 4 foot tall or more) and the Indian varieties (pompon) have the smallest flowers.
Some European countries, as well as China, Japan and Korea use chrysanthemums to symbolize death. Therefore, they are only used at funerals or placed on graves. On the other hand, places like the United States consider this to be a positive, cheery flower.
Cultivation and Care
Whenever you are ready to plant chrysanthemum greens you will want to take the following steps:
- Spread a two inch layer of compost in a layer that gets full sun and is well-drained, making sure to break up any large clumps of soil.
- Water the soil until it drains out from the bottom of the pot.
- Dig a hole the size of the hole with 15 to 24 inches between them.
- Put the chrysanthemum into the hole making sure that the flower sits slightly deeper than it does within its pot.
- Refill the hole with soil to cover any and all roots.
- Water the chrysanthemum at a depth of six to ten inches.
- One month after planting you should fertilize them. Repeat this in the fall.
Once your chrysanthemums have grown, you should follow these chrysanthemum care tips:
- Water mums weekly at a depth of six inches whenever there is not one inch of rain.
- Pinch off the top half-inch of the stem before June in order to encourage growth.
- Weed your flowers weekly. When doing so make sure to break up the top half-inch of dirt too so as to keep weeds from rooting.
- Spread two inches of mulch to keep weeds from growing and to keep soil moist.
Diseases and Pests
There is a whole list of diseases that your chrysanthemums may succumb to, such as:
- Leaf spot is caused by fungi that create one-inch yellowish and dark brown or black spots on the leaves. You will need to hand pick and destroy these infected leaves and if the disease is bad enough, use a fungicide.
- Foliar Nematodes are slender roundworms that are barely visible to your naked eye. It is important to remove the infested portion of the plant and its surrounding soil. Remember to mulch in the spring in order to discourage this from ever occurring.
- Rust is another fungal disease that causes pale areas on top of the leaves. You will want to remove these leaves and possibly use a fungicide.
- Wilt begins with yellow and brown leaves that eventually die. They start at the plant’s base and work upwards. Since it is soil-borne it is difficult to control.
- Powdery mildew got its name because it covers the leaves with a white or ash-gray powdery growth. You need to removed the diseased parts of the plant and spray it with myclobutanil.
- Ray blight attacks the ray flowers making the blooms deformed and one-sided. This calls for leaf spot control.
- Ray speck is a fungal disease that causes brown or white specks with colored halos whenever the temperature or humidity is too high.
- Gray mold will leave brown, water-soaked spots on leaves and a grayish-brown powdery mass of spores. It is important to make sure that your plants are getting enough air. If they are, you won’t have to deal with this issue.
- Bacterial blight causes rot in the upper part of the stem that results in wilting and the plant collapsing. There may also be brown or black decay at the base or a scorched leaf. You can also use antibiotics to treat this.
- Crown gall is a bacterial infection that causes large swellings on the crown and the roots near it. These plants simply need to be discarded of.
- A lot of different viruses may also occur leaving behind spindly, stunted shoots and yellow foliage. The leaves may have ring spots, lines, molting or be pale. Unfortunately, there is no cure whenever this happens.
- Insects and pests
Beware Of Pests
Some of the pests that you need to be on the lookout for with chrysanthemums include:
- Aphids are dark brown or black bugs that pierce plant tissues and suck out the sap. They feed on new growth causing it to be distorted and stunted. By forcefully spraying the plants with water every couple of days you can remove them from your chrysanthemums.
- Two-spotted spider mites and other types of mites can be a problem whenever it is hot and dry. These are more like spiders than insects and can lead to distorted leaves, as well as blooms that are withered and discolored. You will need to destroy the portions of the plant that are infected.
- Chrysanthemum leafminers are the larva from small dark-colored flies. They come from females laying their eggs underneath the chrysanthemum’s leaves. Whenever they hatch they will penetrate the leave and create a winding, pale green trail with dots of black waste. This will cause the leaves to dry up and droop. You should prune and destroy these leaves. Pick up any that fall to the ground and get rid of them too.
There are a lot of different uses for chrysanthemums today. These include:
- Since there are a lot of showy forms of chrysanthemums today, such as the blue chrysanthemum and the chrysanthemum morifolium, a lot of people enjoy using chrysanthemums for ornamental purposes.
- Chrysanthemum tea is made from the yellow and white flowers. It has medicinal uses such as the treatment of influenza.
- Koreans make a rice wine (gukhwaju) that is flavored from chrysanthemum flowers.
- The Chinese boil or steam chrysanthemum leaves to eat. They also use the petals to make snake meat soup.
- Chrysanthemums are a natural insecticide.
- A NASA Clean Air Study has shown that these plants reduce indoor air pollution.
- The stem and flower have a lot of medicinal properties (i.e. antibacterial, antimycotic).
- Chrysanthemum oil is a natural insecticide that can kill everything from wasps to head lice.
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