Anemone Chrysanthemums: History, Characteristics & Cultivation

Chrysanthemums originated in China, where they have been cultivated for over 2,500 years. They held a special place in Chinese culture, symbolizing longevity and nobility. Chrysanthemums were brought to Europe in the 17th century by Dutch explorers. Since then, they’ve become a common garden flowers in many homesteads, appreciated for their bold colors, diverse forms and long bloom time in the fall.

Anemone chrysanthemums, also known as anemone-centered chrysanthemums are a type of chrysanthemum named for their resemblance to sea anemones. Unlike the typical full center of a chrysanthemum, anemone mums have a prominent central disk. This disk is usually raised, cushion-like, and can be quite large compared to the surrounding petals.

Petals have a single or few rows of flat ray florets surrounding the raised center disc. These petals can be broad and flat or slightly curved depending on the specific variety. You can find them in classic fall colors like yellow, orange, and red, or in more vibrant shades like pink, purple, and white. Some varieties even have bi-colored petals.

The formation of anemone-type disc florets in chrysanthemums involves the continuous division and development of cells in the middle layer of the petals, resulting in a more developed petal structure compared to non-anemone-type disc florets. This process is regulated by genes and phytohormone signals, which control the growth and development of the florets.

These chrysanthemums are planted in the spring or early summer. They can be grown from seeds, cuttings, or division. When planting, space them adequately to ensure good air circulation and prevent disease. They thrive in well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. They prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade. In East Asia, chrysanthemums are symbols of autumn and are commonly associated with longevity and rejuvenation.

Characteristics of Anemone Chrysanthemum

  • Lifespan: They are perennial in nature, they live for more than two years. With proper care, they can thrive for several years.
  • Habit: These plants have a bushy and upright growth habit.
  • Height: They can grow to a height of 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 cm), depending on the variety and growing conditions.
  • Moderate: They have a moderate growth rate. They establish relatively quickly and start flowering within a few months of planting.
  • Leaves: Finely divided, fern-like leaves in a deep green color. Leaves are alternately arranged along the stems.
  • Bloom time: Primarily fall (late summer to early autumn), but some varieties may bloom earlier or have extended bloom periods.
  • Flower: Flower has a central, cushion-like disk, surrounded by one or more rows of petals. The petals can be yellow, pink, purple, red, white, and cream.
  • Stems: The stems are erect and sturdy. They are somewhat woody at the base and become more herbaceous towards the tips.
  • Root system: Has a Fibrous root system spreading out in the top few inches of soil.
  • USDA zones: They generally thrive in USDA zones 4-8. They are moderately cold-tolerant but may need winter protection in colder zones.
  • Soil: Prefer well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. They thrive in slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.0-7.0).
  • Sunlight: Full sun is ideal for the best flowering, although they can tolerate partial shade.

Cultivation of Anemone Chrysanthemum

  • Choose a location that receives full sun, ideally 6 hours or more of direct sunlight daily.
  • Prepare well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Amending your planting bed with compost or aged manure is beneficial.
  • Plant chrysanthemums in the spring after the last frost date to give them a full growing season before winter. Alternatively, they can be planted in early fall to establish roots before the cold weather.
  • Space plants about 18 to 24 inches apart to allow for good air circulation and growth.
  • Water regularly during the growing season, especially during hot and dry periods. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.
  • Feed your anemone mums with a balanced fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Stop fertilizing in late summer to encourage healthy bud formation.
  • Regularly remove spent blooms to promote continued flowering. Simply pinch or cut off the flower head just below the faded bloom.
  • Taller varieties may require staking for support, especially when in bud or flower. Use stakes and loose ties to prevent damage to the stems.
  • In colder climates (zones 4-6), mulch around the base of the plant in late fall after the first frost. This helps insulate the roots and protect them from harsh winter conditions. Remove mulch in early spring once the danger of frost has passed.
  • Pinch back young plants to encourage bushier growth and more flower production. Do this when the plants reach about 6-8 inches tall.
  • Every 3-4 years, you can divide your anemone chrysanthemums to maintain healthy growth and prevent overcrowding. Do this in early spring before new growth emerges.
  • Anemone chrysanthemums are generally pest and disease resistant. However, keep an eye out for common garden problems like aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew.

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