April 10, 2024 growing and caring for chrysanthemums

A Guide to Growing and Caring for Chrysanthemum

Are you ready to add some vibrant, long-lasting color to your fall garden? Chrysanthemums are the queens of autumn blooms, bursting with cheerful hues that will brighten up any landscape.

While these gorgeous flowers may seem high-maintenance growing and caring for them is surprisingly simple once you know the tricks.

This guide will walk you through the essentials of chrysanthemum care. From selecting the perfect spot in your garden to understanding their watering and feeding needs. With a little love and attention you’ll see your chrysanthemums thrive, transforming your garden into a kaleidoscope of color and life.

Understanding Chrysanthemum Varieties

Recognizing the different types and selecting the right variety is very important in achieving a vibrant garden. You will want to choose the most suitable variety for your gardening goals.

Types of Chrysanthemums

One of the best things about chrysanthemums is the incredible variety available. They all have their own characteristics and their diversity spans from the shape and size of the blooms to their color spectrums.

These are main types:

  • Anemone: Featuring a raised, cushion-like center surrounded by flat petals, anemone chrysanthemums make a distinctive addition to any garden.
  • Button: These small, globular blooms are reminiscent of buttons, offering a unique texture.
  • Single and Semi-Double: Displaying a single or double layer of petals around a visible center, these varieties are all about simplicity and elegance.
  • Spider: Characterized by long, tubular petals that can resemble spider legs, spider chrysanthemums are known for their dramatic appearance.
  • Pompon: Compact and globe-shaped, pompon varieties bring a sense of whimsy and charm to the garden with their tightly layered petals.
  • Quill: Their long, narrow petals curl at the ends, creating a quill-like effect.

Choosing the Right Variety for Your Garden

Selecting the appropriate chrysanthemum variety for your garden comes down to several factors. Things like climate considerations, available space and what color you like will all play a part. To make an informed choice consider the following:

  • Garden Theme and Color Scheme: Match the chrysanthemum variety to your garden’s existing look. Whether seeking bold colors to stand out or softer hues to blend in, there’s a chrysanthemum type to fit every palette.
  • Climate Compatibility: Some varieties thrive better in certain climates than others. Research the climate resilience of each type to ensure it fits with your local weather conditions.
  • Size and Growth Habit: Pay attention to the mature size of the plant and its growth habit. Make sure there’s enough space in your garden to accommodate the spread and height of the chrysanthemums you choose.
  • Sunlight and Soil Preferences: Most chrysanthemums require well-draining soil and a lot of sunlight to flourish. Select varieties that will thrive in the light and soil conditions available in your garden.

close up of elegant flower white chrysanthemum with green centre placed on white background

Preparing Your Garden for Chrysanthemums

Selecting the Optimal Planting Location

After deciding on the right varieties of chrysanthemums for your garden choosing the best planting location is key. Chrysanthemums adore lots of sunshine, so pick a spot that gets at least six hours of direct rays each day.

Location influences not only their growth but also the vibrancy of their blooms. A little wind protection is also appreciated, so you will also want the planting site to be sheltered from strong winds to protect the stems from breaking and support the plant’s healthy development.

Proximity to other plants also matters; having adequate spacing prevents overcrowding and reduces the risk of disease being spread.

It may seem a drag but getting the right location will give your chrysanthemums’ the best chance to flourish.

Soil Preparation and Amendments

Soil preparation forms the foundation of a thriving chrysanthemum garden. You will want well-draining soil rich in organic matter.

Begin by testing the soil pH, aiming for a slightly acidic to neutral range (pH 6.5-7.0). If necessary adjust the pH by adding elemental sulfur to decrease it or lime to increase it.

Organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can enhances soil structure, improves drainage and provide essential nutrients. For the best growth, consider applying a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at planting time.

Regularly monitoring and adjusting soil conditions will help give your chrysanthemums the best possible start.

Planting Your Chrysanthemums

After preparing your garden and selecting the perfect chrysanthemums based on your theme and climate, the next step is planting. This essential phase requires understanding the best timing, choosing the ideal location, and following a step-by-step guide to ensure your chrysanthemums thrive.

Best Timing for Planting

Timing is everything when it comes to planting chrysanthemums. Too early, and they may struggle before their grand debut. Too late, and the show could be over before it even starts.

In most regions the best time for planting is late spring or early summer. This allows the plants to become established before the onset of the hot summer weather or the cooler fall months.

If you’re in a cooler climate then aim for as soon as the threat of frost has passed. For those in warmer areas early planting ensures roots are well-established before summer heat stresses the plants.

Where to Plant Them

When choosing your planting spot, remember: location, location, location! Chrysanthemums thrive in areas that receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.

They also need shelter from harsh winds that can damage stems and blooms. So planting near a fence or building can offer the much needed protection.

On top of that well-draining soil is important to prevent root rot, and incorporating organic matter improves soil condition and fertility.

elderly couple talking while holding a potted plant

How to Plant Them

Planting is a breeze:

  1. Prepare the Soil: Begin with loosening the soil to about 12 to 15 inches deep and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. This improves drainage and provides nutrients.
  2. Space the Plants: Chrysanthemums need room to grow. Space them 18 to 24 inches apart to ensure good air circulation and reduce the risk of disease.
  3. Planting Depth: Dig holes big enough to accommodate the root ball. Place the plant in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill with soil and gently firm it around the roots.
  4. Water Thoroughly: After planting, water your chrysanthemums thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots and eliminate air pockets.
  5. Mulch: Apply a 2-inch layer of mulch around your plants to retain soil moisture and regulate temperature. Avoid piling mulch against the stems to prevent rot.

Essential Care for Growing Chrysanthemums

The proper care will make sure your Chrysanthemums have vibrant blooms and healthy growth throughout the season.

Watering Requirements

Chrysanthemums like their moisture levels just right – not too dry, but never a soggy mess either. They require more frequent watering during hot, dry periods.

Typically chrysanthemums need about 1 inch of water per week, whether from rainfall or the hose. It’s best to water your plants early in the morning as it allows the foliage to dry during the day which helps prevent fungal diseases.

You want the water to penetrate deep into the soil to encourage deep root development, essential for drought resistance and overall plant health.

Sunlight Requirements

Sunlight is an absolute must for these sun-worshippers! At least six hours of direct rays daily will keep them looking their radiant best.

If they’re planted in too much shade your chrysanthemums may become leggy and produce fewer flowers. Try to put them in a spot that receives ample morning sunlight and some afternoon shade in hotter climates. It will help maintain their vibrant colors and protect them from heat stress.

Fertilizing Fundamentals

In order for your chrysanthemums to reach their full potential using a balanced fertilization is essential. Start with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 formula at planting time.

Then a light application of fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks until early summer.

Avoid fertilizing chrysanthemums late in the season as this can encourage tender new growth that is susceptible to frost damage. Additionally, ensure the soil has good levels of organic matter to not only feed your chrysanthemums but also improve soil health.

Pruning and Pinching for Fuller Plants

Begin pinching back the new growth in late spring or early summer when your plants are about 6 inches tall. Removing the tips of each stem encourages bushier growth and more branches, which results in fuller plants and more flowers.

Do this process every few weeks until mid-summer to promote vigorous growth and prevent your chrysanthemums from becoming too leggy. Regular deadheading, or removing spent flowers, will also encourage blooming throughout the season.

How to Care for Chrysanthemums in a Pot

Don’t have a traditional garden? No problem! Chrysanthemums make fabulous container plants, too.

You will have to treat and grow them differently though.

Selecting the Right Pot

Choosing the correct pot is your first step. The pot needs to have sufficient drainage holes to prevent water logging, which can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.

A pot that’s too small can restrict root growth, while one that’s too large may cause the soil to dry unevenly. Generally, a pot that’s 1-2 inches larger than the plant’s root ball is ideal.

Soil and Watering

A well-draining potting mix is vital. Mixes designed for flowers or vegetables often provide the drainage and nutrient balance chrysanthemums need.

When it comes to watering consistency is key. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Over-watering can be as harmful as under-watering and lead to root issues. Check the top inch of soil; if it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Sunlight and Location

Like garden planted chrysanthemums, when potted they also require at least 6 hours of sunlight daily to flourish. Position the pot in a spot that receives lots of sunlight, turning it occasionally so all sides of the plant receive light. Indoor pots should be placed near a south-facing window for the best exposure.

Fertilizing and Pruning

Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, reducing frequency as the plant starts to bloom.

Regular pruning, including deadheading spent flowers and pinching back stems, will encourage a fuller plant and more blooms. Prune lightly in early summer to shape the plant and promote branching.

Seasonal Care

As temperatures drop you may need to bring those potted lovelies inside to extend their performance. If you’re in a frost-prone area then moving pots indoors or to a sheltered spot is a good idea.

Monitoring moisture levels is especially important during winter months as indoor heating can dry out the soil more quickly.

Pest and Disease Management

We’ve got this far so it’s time to talk about those pesky interlopers: aphids, spider mites and thrips. These little buggers can wreak havoc on your precious mums if left unchecked.

You’ll want to keep a close eye out for any pests and be ready with preemptive measures.

Common Pests and Their Control

Chrysanthemums can attract a variety of pests. Identifying and managing these pests quickly can prevent them from causing significant damage to your plants.

  • Aphids: These small, sap-sucking insects often cluster on the undersides of leaves, potentially spreading diseases. Rinsing your plants with a strong stream of water or applying insecticidal soap can effectively reduce aphid populations.
  • Spider Mites: These tiny pests, difficult to see with the naked eye, can cause foliage to become speckled and discolored. Increasing humidity around your chrysanthemums and introducing natural predators like ladybugs can help control spider mite infestations.
  • Thrips: Known for spreading virus diseases, thrips feed on chrysanthemum leaves and flowers, leading to distorted and discolored plant parts. Yellow sticky traps and neem oil applications can mitigate their numbers effectively.

Preventing and Managing Diseases

Preventing diseases in chrysanthemum comes down to keeping them happy and stress free. Try the following strategies to manage them:

  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white, powdery coating on leaves and stems, thriving in dry leaves and high humidity. Have good air circulation around your plants and apply fungicides early to prevent its spread.
  • Gray Mold (Botrytis): Favored by cool, wet conditions, gray mold causes brown, wilted patches on flowers and leaves. Remove affected parts promptly and maintain dry conditions to discourage its growth.
  • Rust: Characterized by orange or brown pustules on the undersides of leaves, rust can weaken your chrysanthemums. Removing infected leaves and applying fungicides can help manage this disease.

Chrysanthemum Maintenance Through Seasons

These vibrant bloomers require a little TLC throughout the seasons to stay in tip-top shape. Let’s take a look at seasonal maintenance and overwintering practices.

Seasonal Care Guide

Chrysanthemums’ care varies across seasons, requiring specific attention during spring, summer, fall and winter to promote health.


Spring marks the beginning of the growth cycle for chrysanthemums. Plant chrysanthemum cuttings or seeds when the threat of frost passes.

Introduce a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to support initial growth. Regular watering keeps the soil moist but not waterlogged. Pruning dead parts from the previous year revitalizes plants, encouraging bushier growth.


Summer care focuses on managing heat stress and encouraging bud formation. Ensure chrysanthemums receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily, though some afternoon shade may be necessary in hotter regions.

Increase watering frequency to combat the higher temperatures and maintain soil moisture. Continue regular fertilization every 4-6 weeks to sustain growth. Pinching back the tips when plants reach approximately 6 inches promotes bushier plants and more blooms in the fall.


Chrysanthemums shine in fall, displaying their vivid blooms. Reduce fertilization as flowering begins, shifting focus to supporting the existing flowers.

Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during dry spells, to support the blooming process. Deadheading spent blooms extends the flowering period and maintains plant vigor.


In climates where winters are mild, mulch heavily around the base to insulate roots. In colder regions, consider potting garden chrysanthemums and moving them indoors to a cool, dry location. Water sparingly, just enough to prevent the soil from completely drying out.

Overwintering Chrysanthemums

Overwintering chrysanthemums requires a careful approach so they survive the cold months and re-emerge healthy in spring.

  1. In the garden: After the first hard frost, cut back the chrysanthemum stems to about 2-3 inches above ground level. Apply a thick layer of mulch, such as straw or leaf litter, over the dormant plants to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.
  2. In pots: Move potted chrysanthemums indoors to a garage, shed or basement before the first frost. The ideal overwintering location is cool, with temperatures ranging from 32°F to 50°F, and receives minimal light. Water the plants sparingly, just enough to keep the roots from drying out completely.

Propagation Techniques

Want more chrysanthemum magnificence? Effective propagation will mean your garden remains vibrant with these colorful blooms. Mastering these methods allows you to expand your chrysanthemum collection and maintain the health and beauty of these plants.


Dividing chrysanthemums is a straightforward method and perfect for increasing your stock. Division is best performed in early spring when new growth starts but the plant is not yet in full bloom.

To divide your chrysanthemums, follow these steps:

  1. Carefully dig around the parent plant, ensuring you’re far enough from the base to avoid damaging its root systems.
  2. Lift the plant from the soil and gently shake off any loose dirt, making the roots more visible and easier to separate.
  3. Using a sharp knife or gardening shears, divide the root ball into sections. Each section should contain at least one or two shoots and a portion of the root system.
  4. Replant each division promptly, following the planting guidelines discussed earlier in the article. Ensure they’re placed in well-prepared soil, maintaining the proper spacing to allow room for growth.
  5. Water the newly planted divisions thoroughly to help them establish in their new locations.


Taking cuttings is another good technique, especially suited for creating clones of particularly desirable plants. Here’s how you can propagate chrysanthemums through cuttings:

  1. Select healthy, non-flowering stems from the parent plant. Ideally, choose stems that are about 4-6 inches long.
  2. Using a clean, sharp knife or scissors, cut just below a leaf node, as this is where the roots will develop.
  3. Remove the lower leaves, leaving only two or three at the top. This minimizes water loss through transpiration and focuses the cutting’s energy on root development.
  4. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone powder to encourage root growth. While not mandatory, this step can significantly improve success rates.
  5. Insert the cutting into a pot filled with a moist, well-draining potting mix. Ensure the leaf nodes where you removed the leaves are buried in the soil.
  6. Cover the pot with a plastic bag or place it in a mini-greenhouse to maintain humidity levels, which are crucial for root development.
  7. Place the pot in a bright, indirect light location and keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Roots typically form within 2-4 weeks, after which you can gradually acclimatize the new plants to less humid conditions before transplanting them into their final locations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I select the right chrysanthemum variety for my garden?

The best chrysanthemum variety for your garden depends on your climate and the specific look you’re aiming for. Consider the plant’s mature size, bloom time, and color. Research or ask local nurseries about varieties that thrive in your area.

What are the key factors in preparing my garden for chrysanthemums?

Key factors include choosing a sunny location, ensuring the soil is well-draining, enriching the soil with compost or well-rotted manure, and planting at the correct depth and spacing according to the variety’s needs.

How can I care for chrysanthemums in pots?

For potted chrysanthemums, select a pot with good drainage, use a high-quality potting mix, ensure consistent watering without waterlogging, and place the pot in a location where the plant will receive the right amount of sunlight. Fertilize regularly and prune to encourage bushy growth.

What sunlight exposure do chrysanthemums need?

Chrysanthemums require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Insufficient sunlight can lead to poor bloom development and leggy plants, so ensure they’re placed in a adequately sunny spot, whether in the ground or in pots.

How do I fertilize chrysanthemums for best growth?

Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer as chrysanthemums begin to grow in spring. Switch to a high-phosphorus fertilizer to promote blooms as the flowering season approaches. Follow the product’s instructions for the best results.

Can you explain how to properly prune chrysanthemums?

Prune chrysanthemums in early summer to encourage bushy growth and more blooms. Pinch off the tips of stems when they are 6 inches tall, leaving at least 4 leaves on the stem. Repeat this process as the plant grows to promote branching.

What should I do to manage pests and diseases in chrysanthemums?

Regularly inspect your chrysanthemums for signs of pests or disease. Treat infestations or infections early with appropriate organic or chemical controls. Ensure good air circulation around plants and avoid overhead watering to prevent many common issues.

How do I propagate chrysanthemums through division?

Divide chrysanthemums in early spring before new growth starts. Dig up the plant, gently separate the root ball into smaller sections ensuring each has roots and shoots, and replant immediately. Water well to establish.

What is the process for propagating chrysanthemums from cuttings?

To propagate from cuttings, take 4-6 inch stem cuttings from a healthy plant in spring or early summer. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone, and plant in a moist, well-draining potting mix. Keep in indirect light and maintain moisture until roots develop, then transplant.

how to grow and care for chrysanthemum

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