Quill Chrysanthemums: History, Characteristics & Cultivation

Quill Chrysanthemums are generally large, full, and globular with petals that are tubular, needle-like, and narrow, resembling quills or needles. They often end in a pointed tip. The flowers themselves are composed of multiple layers of petals, with the outer petals being longer and more tubular, while the inner petals are shorter and more rounded. The center of the flower is filled with a cluster of small, tubular disk florets. Colors of the flowers can be white, yellow, pink, purple, red, bronze, and bi-color.

Quill Chrysanthemum is upright and bushy, with a height of about 12-18 inches and a spread of about 12 inches. The foliage is dark green and fern-like. They are grown as annuals, but in some climates, they may be able to overwinter and return the following year. They bloom in late summer to fall when many other plants have finished blooming.

Characteristics of Quill Chrysanthemums

  • Growth Form: Have tall and upright growth habit, with a bushy appearance. They grow to a height of 12-18 inches and have a spread of about 12 inches.
  • Growth Rate: They have a moderate growth rate establishing relatively quickly and blooming within a few months of planting.
  • Lifespan: They are perennial in nature, they can live for more than two years. However, they are usually treated as annuals in garden settings.
  • Leaves: The leaves are simple, lance-shaped, and dark green in color. They are arranged alternately on the stem and have a slightly serrated margin.
  • Flower: The flower are large, full, and globular. The petals are tubular, needle-like, and narrow, resembling quills or needles.
  • Bloom Time: Typically fall (late summer to early autumn).
  • Stems: They have strong, upright stems that support the large blooms. The stems are green but may have a reddish tinge.
  • Root System: Have a fibrous root system that is relatively shallow, spreading out in the top few inches of soil.
  • USDA Zones: Suitable are suitable for growing in USDA zones 5-9. In colder zones (below 5), they may not survive the winter and are best grown as annuals.

Cultivation of Quill Chrysanthemums

Planting

  • Timing: Ideally, plant outdoors in spring or early summer after the danger of frost has passed. You can also start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost.
  • Location: Choose a spot with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Soil: Prepare well-draining soil by amending it with compost or aged manure. Aim for a slightly acidic to neutral pH (6.0-7.0).
  • Spacing: Plant seedlings or transplants 12-18 inches apart to allow for proper growth.

Care

  • Watering: Water regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Allow the top inch of soil to dry slightly between waterings.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season (spring to summer). You can use a water-soluble fertilizer or a slow-release formula.
  • Pinching: Pinch back tips when plants are about 6 inches tall to encourage bushier growth and more blooms; continue until midsummer.
  • Deadheading: Remove spent blooms regularly to promote continued flowering. Simply snip off the faded flower head just below the base of the bloom.
  • Staking: Taller varieties, especially when laden with flowers, may require staking for support. Use stakes or plant cages to prevent stems from bending or breaking.

Overwintering

  • In colder climates (USDA zones below 5), they are typically treated as annuals.
  • In warmer zones (USDA zones 5-9), with proper care, they can survive winter.
  • After the first frost, cut back the stems to a few inches above the ground and mulch heavily with straw or leaves to protect the roots from freezing temperatures.
  • In spring, remove the mulch and new growth will emerge from the base of the plant.

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