Chrysanthemums = Lifetime of Happiness



A Chinese philosopher once said: “If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow chrysanthemums.”
Mums are plants that thrive and bloom in proportion to the care that they are given. And nothing brings us greater happiness than to know our help is needed.
Chrysanthemums may be annual or perennial, ground-hugging or shrubby, succulent or aromatic. They bloom like crazy. Because most chrysanthemums flower in the fall, botanists have deemed them “short-day plants” _ as opposed to “long-day plants” that flower in the spring and summer or “day-neutral plants” that bloom throughout the year.
Yet research has proven that so-called short-day plants actually flower in response to long nights. If you plant chrysanthemums where they are lit up by street or patio lights, they may not flower.
I thought of chrysanthemums last week thanks to Craig Smith, who lives in Sylmar. In Smith’s garden, I witnessed a wonderful specimen of the silver and gold chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum pacificum) in full bloom.
Among the most popular chrysanthemums are Marguerite daisies (Chrysanthemum frutescens), which bloom in 3-foot mounds of pink, sulfur yellow or white. If flowers are regularly removed as soon as they fade, you will see several waves of bloom throughout the year.
The Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum) has the classic look: a large yellow center surrounded by white petals. A biennial, Shastas do not bloom until the second year of growth. But once established, they will amble through your flower bed in due course.
Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) has pungent, lacy leaves and myriad, miniature daisy flowers. Feverfew reseeds with alacrity and some consider it a weed. It is best suited to rugged, low-maintenance areas.
Costmary (Chrysanthemum balsamita) has a delightful scent _ part lemon, part mint _ and will grow in the worst soil, provided it gets regular water.
If you want a real treat, pick up a packet of summer chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum carinatum) seeds at the nursery. These mums produce a variety of tri-color blooms against a background of semi-succulent, finely cut foliage.
TIP OF THE WEEK: Florist chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum morifolium) are sold in supermarkets from Thanksgiving to Mother’s Day. You will see them in gold, bronze, mauve and white. If you get one of these plants this time of year, it is a good idea to keep it indoors until spring. If you plant them outdoors in November, they will likely die of shock from the cold.

Photo credit: Martin LaBar (going on hiatus) / / CC BY-NC

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