November 4, 2012


'River City' is a Recurve with an unusual color. A light champagne salmon.

'Coral Charm', a new coral or salmon colored variety. I disbudded this plant to achieve this larger flower, but typically this is grown as sprays. with many smaller flowers in a cluster.

Once the iconic blossom of autumn in Asia, the chrysanthemum moved from being a most auspicious flower to one of dull funereal status in the west. Today, it is being rediscovered by a new generation. I made this arrangement inspired by those loosely constructed by the stylish Brooklyn, NY firm of Saipua. It incorporates branches, autumnal leaves and other random clippings found around the garden today.

'John Lowry' A Reflexing Bloom in the style preferred in England. Bred by Harry Lawson in the U.K., This variety has one of the brightest colors in the greenhouse right now.

'Fort Smith', an Irregular Incurve, highly esteemed for exhibition potential, these are the giants of the Chrysanthemum world. These must be disbudded in order to achieve this size.

In the greenhouse, the exhibition mums are reaching peak bloom. Some of these plants are 6 feet tall.
The Chrysanthemum is experiencing a comeback.

Only kidding. Well, If I keep saying that maybe it will.  I will admit that the 5th most popular page on this blog remains exhibition chrysanthemums, so there must be SOME interest! I've have over 10,000 hits on those pages.

This bronze beauty is an exhibition form  known as 'regular incurve', a class , 'Heather James', is a new variety.
Blooms in this class are formally incurved with the ideal bloom forming a complete ball.

Sadly, aside from funeral mums, those florist mums, the cheapest of cut flowers, and those dreaded 'hardy mums' available in the fall, and yes, even those 'gift' mums wrapped in foil - the era of exhibition chrysanthemum is over. Growing exhibition mums is fun, and it only takes one season, but as they bloom later than the earliest frost, one needs a greenhouse or conservatory - and time. Did I mention time? I'll be honest, my mums look pretty crappy this year. I ran out of free time. I was lucky to even get them into the greenhouse on time before the froze. You can see how the foliage is a little damaged too from fungus.

Exhibition mums need a little care each week during the summer, and in normal years, they are quite growable. Cuttings arrive in May, I pot them up and take a second set of cuttings, pots are set out into the garden, and aside from some fertilizer each week, daily watering and  weekly pinching and some disbudding and staking as they grow, they are relatively easy. Watering is therapy after work in the summer when sometimes, if I get home in time, standing in the setting sun with a hose is exactly the decompression time that I need. 

In American, these are sometimes referred to as Irregular Incurve. In the USA we call them Football mums,' but in Japan, they are carefully trained and respected. This cultivar is 'Kokka Bunmi'. It is a very typical Japanese style flower with a long skirt of trailing florets dangling below it.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you also know that I am a sucker for exploring old fashioned horticultural techniques. Seventeenth Century, Eighteenth Century and Nineteenth Century growing techniques is fun for plant geeks like me who enjoy to exploring early horticultural methods, but sometimes I need to remind myself that such tasks were typically executed by large gardening staffs on private estates, and not by a single person with a full time job and a two hour commute. I found that the mums this year took a little too much time, considering that I also explored Sweet Pea culture and annual poppies at the same time.

Some mums have been bred to have very tiny blossoms, such as this bonsai-form known as 'Koto No Kaori'
Here is the same variety as seen at the New York Botanical Garden last year

I need to keep this post short, since I am still hand feeding one puppy, and she is crying. Plus, this week at work has been a bit of a Hell week, which has had me getting up in the dark in the morning, and returning near midnight - I've had little time for anything, it seems. Even finding time to eat has been difficult, let alone laundry, hurricanes and bill paying.

For more information about Chrysanthemums, check out the website for the National Chrysanthemum Society. If you want to try growing exhibition mums next year, order your cuttings from Kings Mums.


  1. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Ooh, love the look of the irregular incurve form and the containers in which you've displayed them are quite lovely as though made for just that purpose.

  2. Hi Matt! I'm Rosi, I read your blog from long time. I love "crisantemi" (in Italian language), i like them ver much with strong colours. I like to see your garden changing every season. Have a Good Night!

  3. Anonymous4:53 PM

    I've been reading your blog for about 3 months now and really enjoying your perspective. Never thought much about Chrysanthemums, but you've given me a new appreciation. As a novice, what is disbudding?

  4. We used to grow some of these for the market in NYC. My grandfather would tie them up with different color string depending on their grade in groups of 12? and then they would get laid in large cardboard boxes (not as large as a coffin, but close) with lots of tissue paper.
    We used 6 inch opening wire fencing in the horizontal axis to keep them from falling over. As they grew, we would raise the fencing. I hated disbudding!

  5. 'Apricot Courtier' is already showing color here.( Seattle) I think it might even be too early for the Sept. show. Gunna water with ice water and see if I can slow it down.White 'Fairweather' is slow. Into the greenhouse for the opposite> heat it up to speed it along. In all, the crop looks great, hoping to take a few Blue Ribbons in our late show,Oct30, Nov.1.


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