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  HOME AND GARDEN » House Plants

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Plants for your home (By Mary Efanti)

Chrysanthemum

Origin

In Greek its name means the flower of gold, although there is another local name after a Christian Saint whose name-day is celebrated in October when the chrysanthemums are in full bloom. It is said that it originated in the Far East, China and Japan. The Dutch were the first to introduce this flower to Europe where it has been cultivated for years, while in Greece chrysanthemums are part of almost every garden or balcony.

Description

Its wonderful flowers, in a huge variety of colors and sizes, carry a yellow disk at their center like a daisy, although in many varieties the petals of the flower are so dense that you cannot see this disk. Exception to that is what we call the Dutch chrysanthemum, a hybrid (a combination of chrysanthemums and daisies). 

The main stem of the chrysanthemums is divided into many smaller ones, each carrying 3 or more buds. The buds bloom in stages and flowers last for many days. 

Chrysanthemums have dense foliage, in dark green color while the underside of the leaves is gray-green. Their height varies between approximately 20cm and 1 m depending on the specific variety and the quality of the soil. 

Cultivation

chrys3.jpg (8528 bytes)Chrysanthemums do very well in almost any type of soil but they prefer rich soil, containing sand and clay, and good drainage.

They possess a rich root system and in this way they manage to make good use of all the moisture in the soil, an attribute that makes them quite resistant to high temperatures. 

Chrysanthemums need direct sunlight to reach bloom and they can handle the hot sunlight as well as very high temperatures. When in blooming, make sure to reduce the amount of direct light, on warm and sunny days, because the flowers may get sunburned. Keeping them out of the hot sun will also help maintain flowers a little longer. During the summer, place the pots in a well-lit spot but not under the hot rays of the summer sun. 

If cultivated in pots, water them when the top soil is dry to the touch or when you see their leaves starting to wither. Be careful not to over-water as their roots rot easily.

Care

chrys5.jpg (9750 bytes)During the blooming season, cut the spent flowers in order to help maintain the new flowers and to keep your plant well groomed. 

When all the flowers are spent, cut them off and prune the plant. Discard of the lower leaves which must have gone dry by this time, and cut the stems that carried flowers a little higher from the point that the main stem is divided into smaller ones. The plant will look quite ugly but soon new growth will appear as well as many new offshoots next to the main stem. 

Keep watering throughout the year, less often in winter and more often during the summer. If your chrysanthemums are in a pot, on very hot summer days you may need to water everyday. 

chrys4.jpg (9608 bytes)Check the plant very carefully and very often, especially on the tender tops or on the underside of leaves and flowers for black or green tiny flies, called aphids, which is a usual pest to chrysanthemums. If you notice any aphids, move the diseased plant away from any other plants in order to avoid the disease spreading. Visit your local nursery, get the suitable chemical (in powder form) and use according to the instructions. Always follow closely the instructions on the packaging. 

You could try a more “practical” non-toxic solution. Dissolve 3-4 drops of ordinary dishwashing liquid and some “blue” alcohol in lukewarm water and spray the plant, making sure that the underside of the leaves is covered with the solution. Repeat the same process 10-15 days later and you should get rid of aphids. Another way, express but quite risky, is to spray the aphids with an ordinary household insecticide and place the plant in shade. Of course, expect to see the tender new leaves dry out and fall (because of the insecticide) but you will get rid of the aphids in no time. Be careful, use this method only on plants situated outside your home, as its intense odor makes repellents dangerous for use in spaces with poor ventilation, like our homes in winter. 

In the Vase

1846t.jpg (4976 bytes)Chrysanthemums are beautiful either in the garden or in the vase. They make excellent cut flowers and here is a little tip on how to preserve them in the vase much longer: each time you change the water in the vase, add half an aspirin. Do not forget to replace the water every day, shorten the stems, and discard of leaves that are under the surface of water, the same way you would care for any cut flowers.

 

Mary Efanti
mefanti@otenet.gr

 

 

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