Most people in Oklahoma identify Chrysanthemums as the flower that marks the transition from summer to fall. Spectacular displays are seen around town. Most of these plants in flower beds were purchased from a garden center growing in a large pot and were displayed at the home’s entrance or on the patio. After their blooming season was over they were planted in the ground to begin their life as a part of the landscape.
Chrysanthemums are perennials and can survive cold weather if they are properly cared for. They need to be planted so that they receive at least five hours of sunlight and preferably more. After the potted plant is placed into the ground, and the leaves turn brown, you can cut it back to a height of 3–4 inches and mulch it with leaves, straw or other light mulch. Be sure that the soil where the Chrysanthemum is placed is the type that drains well. If water tends to stand in that area seek another location. Occasionally check the soil and if it feels dry provide some water.
When spring arrives, a slow release fertilizer is recommended. Depending on the cultivar, some Chrysanthemums will bloom in the spring and again in the fall. Chrysanthemums planted in the center bed of University Baptist Church courtyard that surrounds the large wooden cross, began life as a single plant about 1985. Over the years the original plant was divided so that now the back, north side and some of the west side of the bed are full of lavender blooms. These plants bloom in the spring. After the blooms have spent, the foliage is cut back, more fertilizer applied, and they bloom again in October.
Pinching or cutting back the limbs of Chrysanthemums so that they don’t get too tall will also tend to produce a fuller plant and more blooms. You should complete your pinching and pruning by July 15 to allow the plant to develop into one full of blooms in the fall.
When I was in college in the 1940s and 1950s, corsages made of a single extremely large Chrysanthemum bloom and decorated with ribbons in school colors was in vogue, especially at homecoming games and other special outdoor events. During those days women alumni wore hats and suits to football games and men wore suits or sport coats with dress shirts and ties! Lots of refrigerators became the repository of these corsages on Saturday night after the game, staying there until they finally went into the trash. Those traditions aren’t likely to be reintroduced.
Later on in the fall you may find a bargain in Chrysanthemum plants that have completely bloomed but were not purchased. If you have a place to plant them, forego the instant gratification of a blooming plant this fall, purchase them and plant them for future years in your landscape.
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