Chrysanthemum season is nearly here, but aside from those hormone drenched, growth-retardant treated perfect mounds that we see at every garden center, our current love/hate relationship with this autumnal standby goes much further back in horticultural history than this current mumification of North America - the Chrysanthemum may very will be the most cultivate flower on our planet, yet few of us ever see the sheer beauty this genus can produce. To truly appreciate the Chrysanthemum, we must first look backwards more than 3000 years ago, for in China and Japan hundreds of varieties were grown to perfection for autumnal celebrations and winter holidays.
|JAPANESE SPIDER MUMS, WHEN PROPERLY GROWN TO 6 FOOT TALL SINGLE STEMS AND DISBUDDED TO A SINGLE BUT, CAN PRODUCE THE MOST AMAZING FLOWERS IN OCTOBER- THIS ONE THAT I GREW A FEW YEARS AGO HAD A FLOWER MORE THAN 1 FOOT IN DIAMETER,|
1. Did the name Chrysanthemum really change recently?
* Apparently, the name Chrysanthemum is still being used. Thanks to a blog reader who shared his thoughts, I researched this a little bit more, and here is what I found: Both Chrysanthemum and Dendranthema are still valid, but Dendranthema is now a subsection within the genus Chrysanthemum. ( Often called Chrysanths). The name I learned to use back in college, Chrysanthemum x morifolium is still sometimes used once again, but finding any literature on this has been challenging without access to JSTOR or an botanical university library - I welcome any expert to share their knowledge! The last update that I could find was from the taxonomy journal TAXON in 1998, a citation with a proposal to conserve the name Chrysanthemum (44:439-441.).
Web searched find anecdotal reference for a change back occurring in 1999, but I could find no factual information. I did find this list which may help the geekier of us, to find where other members in the genus netted out. Oh, thank God I never became a taxonomist! I think that they must be the lawyers of the plant world.
Other changes in the family are here:
Arctanthemum (arctic chrysanthemum, 1 species) - C. arcticum
Argyranthemum (marguerites and Paris daisies, 23 species) - C. anethifolium, C. foeniculaceum, C. frutescens
Chrysanthemum (florists’ mums, ca. 40 species) - C. xgrandiflorum, C. indicum, C. japonicum
Glebionis (corn chrysanthemums and crown daisies, 3 species) - C. segetum, C. coronarium
Heteranthemis (sticky ox-eye daisy, 1 species) - C. viscidehirtum
Ismelia (tricolor chrysanthemum, 1 species) - C. carinatum = C. tricolor
Leucanthemella (high-daisy, giant-daisy, 2 species) - C. serotinum
Leucanthemopsis (alpine marguerites, 6 species) - C. alpinum, C. pallidum
Leucanthemum (ox-eye daisy and Shasta daisies, ca. 26 species) - C. leucanthemum, C. maximum, C. lacustre, C. xsuperbumRhodanthemum (Moroccan daisies, 12 species) - C. hosmariense, C. gayanum, C. atlanticum).
2. Are my newly potted 'hardy mums' really hardy?
Sorry, they are not really 'hardy'. The Mums that we see in garden centers are NOT reliably hardy in most North American gardens, so forget what you read in books or what the sales associate tells you, it's just the sad truth. These are varieties designed to be disposable. I know, I know - technically, they are considered to be a 'hardy perennial' in many gardening books, but the modern varieties used to commercially produce the common mum plant that we see sold as 'Hardy Mums' are not truly bred to be hardy.
I'm not saying that some will survive, but proceed and invest carefully, as winter hardyness varies between the many varieties sold. Breeders select varieties for color and uniformity more than they do for hardiness. So thanks carefully before investing in that $16.00 giant perfectly grown mound. It may be best to consider the purchase a disposable one.
3. Why don't we ever see Spider mums and Football Mums in our gardens?
These varieties, along with many other beautiful forms are all known as exhibition mums, not only are they late bloomers - often flowering in late October and November, they are also more demanding to grow - requiring often daily care, staking, disbuding, trimming to only one or 3 stems, and heavy feeding. Growing exhibition mums is quickly becoming a lost craft, but as many of you already know, it is one which I am fervently trying to reintroduce. Soon you will all see my exhibition mum collection, as it is one of my 2012 Projects, but they are not ready yet - but here are a few photos to show you where I am with them.
Chrysanthemum 'Gethsemane Moonlight' is a truly hardy mum, which is more reliable and truly perennial in the border. Look for other named varieties in white, peach and pink.
4. There are some very nice truly Hardy mums - but you had better like daisy-shaped flowers.
It's true, some truly perennial mums exist, but don't expect them to be as dense and nice as the tight buns seen at retail right now, these are more loosely growing, more like daisy's than what you might imagine a chrysanthemum to look like in your mind, but these varieties spread slowly, and will quickly become a share-a-long plant. Look for Chrysanthemum 'Snow Dome', or Chrysanthemum 'Gethsemane Moonlight'. both from Plant Delights Nursery.
My Mum Project Update
|NO FLOWER PRODUCING STEM IS ALLOWED TO MATURE, SO DAILY NIPPING AND SNIPPING IS REQUIRED. IT IS BEST TO REMOVE STEMS BEFORE THEY GET TOO LARGE.|
|MY 'GROWING WITH PLANTS' EXHIBITION MUM PROJECT - STILL GROWING, BUT SOON TO BE RELOCATED INTO THE GREENHOUSE ONCE FROST THREATENS. FLOWERING WON'T OCCUR UNTIL LATE OCTOBER OR NOVEMBER.|