Saturday, October 19, 2013
Chrysanthemums, or mums, are one of my favorite fall flowers. They are native to Asia and northeastern Europe. Their flowers are daisy-like in appearance, and come in a variety of colors such as red, yellow, orange, and purple. The name itself comes from the Greek words, "chrysos," which means "gold," and "anthemon," which means "flower."
There are two basic groups of chrysanthemums: garden hardy and exhibition. The first can survive winters in northern latitudes, the second cannot. Generally, garden hardy mums have smaller flowers, are shorter, and are less showy than the exhibition varieties.
Chrysanthemums have all kind of uses besides looking pretty in a garden. In Asia, the flowers of one species are used to make tea. The leaves are also boiled and eaten much the same way as we might boil spinach. The flowers can be used as an insecticide, too, when pulverized and mixed with oil. Having a pot of chrysanthemums in your house, according to the NASA Clean Air Study, can help reduce indoor air pollution.
To care for your chrysanthemums, keep them in an area where they can receive a lot of sun. Don't overwater. For hardy mums, once they turn brown from a hard frost, cut them down to ground level and cover with a light mulch, such as pine needles. In the spring, give them a fertilizer to promote blooms.