Chrysanthemums

Mother’s Day is when traditionally Australians present their mums with a bunch of chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemums are naturally in season in Australia in autumn, so are cheap and plentiful in time for Mother’s Day.

Plant details

Common name: Chrysanthemum or Florists’ Chrysanthemum

Botanic name: Dendranthema x grandiflora

Varieties: There are many named cultivars of chrysanthemums. Although grown for thousands of years in Asia, they were not widely known in the rest of the world until the early nineteenth century, when plants were imported and hybridised in the UK. Colours range from white to pink, purple, yellow, bronze and everything in between. Flowers come in all shapes and sizes.

Exhibition chrysanthemums

Don visited the garden of Bruce Skeen, who has been passionate about growing and exhibiting chrysanthemums for the past thirty years. During this time, the trend amongst chrysanthemum growers has changed from producing big specimen flowers to smaller flowered plants in different shapes. Bruce has been influenced by trips overseas, particularly to Japan, where the chrysanthemum is the national flower. The Japanese spend a tremendous amount of time and effort shaping their plants into fabulous flowering cascades.

Bruce has about sixty ‘cushion’ chrysanthemums in various colours in his front garden, mass planted and interspersed with other shrubs and perennials. In the backyard he grows large specimen chrysanthemums in pots, including cushion types up to 50cms high and 1m in diameter. These were originally purchased as ‘potted colour’ from supermarkets and garden centres. Bruce grows three ‘cascade’ type varieties: ‘Megumi’ (yellow), ‘Redburst’ (bronze centre with row of red florets) and ‘Smile’ (white with a yellow centre). He also trains ‘Megumi’ and ‘Redburst’ into circles, half circles, table tops, fans and towers. These plants are grown on supports and frames made of bamboo and wire.

Best climate: Chrysanthemums are available everywhere as pot plants. In the garden they are best grown in a cool to mild climate but will grow and flower well into the milder subtropics.

Uses:

cut flowers potted or garden plants gifts for Mother’s Day

Good points:

long flowering, and the flowers are long lasting easy to grow relatively pest and disease free commercial growers can produce flowers at any time of the year by manipulating the amount of light plants receive

Care:

Potted chrysanthemums last for several weeks indoors if watered when dry and kept in a well-lit spot. Remove spent flowers and discoloured leaves. After flowering either discard, or cut back to about 15cm (6″) high and plant outdoors in a sunny, well-drained spot. Chrysanthemums like full sun and well-drained soil. Water well through summer and feed with liquid fertiliser every four to six weeks to encourage strong growth. For a compact bush, tip prune young plants to encourage branching.

Getting started:

Potted plants for gifts are readily available at nurseries and supermarkets in most parts of Australia. Cost: $5-$6 for small presentation pots. Chrysanthemums can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or by lifting and dividing an existing clump in early spring.

Further information

Bruce Skeen is the author of a book called Growing Chrysanthemums. It is published by Kangaroo Press, and can be ordered from your local bookshop. Cost: $12.95 Chrysanthemum societies:- National (to find you nearest club)
Australian Chrysanthemum Council – phone: (08) 8356 1114

NSW
Chrysanthemum Society of NSW
Phone: (02) 9623 9724

VIC
Chrysanthemum Society of Victoria
Phone: (03) 9787 4170

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