Chrysanthemum Plant Care Guide ~ Varieties
Chrysanthemums, often called mums or chrysanths, are perennial flowering plants of the genus Chrysanthemum in the family Asteraceae which are native to Asia and northeastern Europe. About 30 species have been described. Florists sometimes abbreviate the spelling to “xants”.
Chrysanthemums are a perennial flowering herb first cultivated in China More than 3500 years ago. It takes its name from Greek words “chrysous,” meaning “golden” and “anthemon,” meaning “flower.”
Over time, people cultivated chrysanthemums to the point that the varieties most people have in their gardens are very different from the wild version. Domesticated chrysanthemums are much fancier than wild ones, and can come in a wide array of colors and shapes. From daisy-like cultivars to buttons to pompoms and more, gardeners now recognize 13 distinct blooms shapes. And while wild chrysanthemums are always yellow, cultivated flowers can be white, red, purple, pink, green, orange …
In China, people have long made a sweet drink from the flowers, called simply chrysanthemum tea, and the leaves are eaten steamed or boiled. The plant is also a potent insecticide and has traditionally been used medicinally for its antibacterial and antifungal properties.
In the United States, chrysanthemums are associated with love, luck, and happiness. In most of Asia, and in certain European countries, though, they are associated with death and mourning, and are reserved for use in funeral arrangements. In Japan, where the flower has become the official emblem for the emperor, chrysanthemums are celebrated with an annual “Festival of Happiness.”
Chrysanthemum plants are just about the easiest of all of the perennials to grow. Mums should be planted in early spring after all danger of freezing, however they can be planted almost any time, as long as they have time to establish their root system before the hottest weather.