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The chrysanthemums (genus chrysanthemum) are perennial herbaceous plants, often of large dimensions, originating in Asia and Europe, cultivated for several millennia as ornamental plants; the name derives from the Greek, and means golden flower, it was given to the genus by Linnaeus since most of the chrysanthemums that develop in the spontaneous state have golden yellow flowers. The flowers that we see today from florists, and also those we cultivate in the garden, are mostly hybrids, originating from crossings that took place centuries ago between two species of Asian origin, usually chrysanthemum indicum, and chrysanthemum morifolium. The chrysanthemums are asteraceae, and as such, their flowers are gathered in flower heads (like daisies), or flat inflorescences, which bring together perfect central tubular flowers, which form the disc, and the imperfect sterile tubular flowers on the outer edge, fitted with one or more small petals; such tiny flowers are so close as to give the impression of being a single single flower, and not an inflorescence. In the inflorescences of hybrid chrysanthemums, most of the tiny flowers carry one or more long petals, thus giving form to very particular inflorescences, where the central disk is often almost completely hidden.
The chrysanthemums that we grow in the garden are generally hybrid plates that are easy to grow; those we find from the florist, on the other hand, need special care to be able to bloom, as they have very large inflorescences, and thin stems, which are often unable to sustain them.
Chrysanthemum species

Chrysanthemum indicum

These chrysanthemums are annual, large plants, originating in India and throughout Asia; they produce erect stems, quite branched, with large dark green, smooth, lobed, elongated leaves; at the apex of the stems, in summer, large, golden-yellow inflorescences bloom; these chrysanthemums are hardly found in cultivation, especially the botanical species; more easily we find colored hybrids, often in shades of white or pink, also cultivated in Italian gardens, for their beautiful spring-summer bloom.
The general appearance of the plant is quite messy, and can reach 45-55 cm in height, maintaining an erect or sometimes hanging habit. The irises generally constitute dense and compact bushes, which develop during the summer, and die when the first cold weather arrives.

Chrysanthemum morifolium

Chrysanthemum of Chinese origin, it is a perennial herbaceous plant, which does not fear frost and is grown without problems in the garden throughout the year; it has thin well ramified stems, which bear large dark green leaves, rough, lobed and finely engraved. In the nursery it is very difficult to find the botanical species, but surely we can find many hybrids of this chrysanthemum, which are cultivated throughout Italy as perennials; flowering can take place over a long period of time, from late spring to late autumn; generally the chrysanthemums they are pruned at the beginning of winter and in spring, to obtain more compact bushes, with a more abundant flowering during the beginning of autumn.

Chrysanthemum coronarium

Annual chrysanthemum, widespread in the Mediterranean area and in Asia; the leaves are thin and elongated, lobed, and vaguely resemble those of the dandelion; the flowers are small yellow or white flower heads with a yellow disc. This plant is also widespread in Italy in nature, and is difficult to grow in Europe; in Asia it is a typical vegetable from the garden, as the leaves of this chrysanthemum are used as spinach, to be boiled or steamed and used as a side dish. Being an annual plant, it is sown in late winter or early spring, and as soon as the leaves are large enough the whole plant is cut at the base, avoiding letting it develop excessively, or the leaves may become excessively leathery.

Not just chrysanthemums

Once the genus chrysanthemum had several dozen plants, as the asteraceae are very common plants in the world; some decades ago the chrysanthemums they were inserted into the genus dendranthema; subsequent genetic studies and revisions of the nomenclature have resurrected the genus chrysanthemum, which now only has about thirty species. However, many plants are still commonly called chrysanthemums; a typical example is the tanacetum coccineus, also known as chrysanthemum coccineum: perennial plant, which produces large flower heads, carried by thin stems. Very famous is also the Japanese chrysanthemum, or pacific chrysanthemum, whose botanical name is pacific ajania, chrysanthemum characterized by a very compact habit, with flowers gathered in flower heads, which bloom at the apex of thin well ramified stems; pubescent leaves, dark green, very decorative.
Grow chrysanthemums

Grow chrysanthemums

As we said, there are annual chrysanthemums and perennial chrysanthemums; both are grown in a very sunny flowerbed, with a fertile, loose, and very well drained soil. The soil is prepared by mixing a little sand and a good dose of humus or manure, to improve its fertility. The seeds of the annual varieties and the small plants of the perennial varieties settle preferably in spring, when every possibility of night frosts is long gone. Once the plants are in place, water them; repeating watering every time the soil is dry, but without exceeding. Annual chrysanthemums bloom in summer; those perennials are generally discouraged to bloom ine or in the spring by shortening the stems by about half. In this way, even the most compact and decorative leaves are kept, as with the passage of time they would tend to become very loose and uneven.
Often, for the chrysanthemums with particular flowers, the floral buttons are removed, so that each stem carries only one single huge flower; for this purpose it sometimes becomes necessary also to support the stems with tutors, otherwise they could hardly hold such large flowers. Such practices are generally left only to florists, and in the garden it is preferred to put down less demanding varieties, which will bloom in autumn. After the flowers have withered the bush is cut down, about 6-10 cm from the ground, so as to favor, the following year, the production of a smaller and more compact head. In addition to this, this prevents excessively low temperatures from causing the foliage to freeze, with consequent development of fungal diseases, which can reach the root system. During the winter months it is not necessary to water or fertilize the chrysanthemums.

Pests and diseases

The large chrysanthemum leaves are often affected by various types of fungi, such as powdery mildew or botrytis; the development of these diseases is certainly favored by cultivation conditions characterized by poor aeration and by a cool and humid climate; but chrysanthemums are very susceptible to developing these diseases, generally, in spring and autumn, preventive treatments are carried out, based on copper or sulfur, to avoid the establishment of parasites on the leaves.
The large leaves are also very often affected by nematodes, small insects that creep into the leaf lamina, which has yellow, and later necrotic spots; they are eradicated using systemic insecticides, to be supplied to the plant mixed with the water used for watering.
Conditions of extreme humidity, or of soil that often has stagnant water, can favor the development of basal rot or of the collar, which can bring the chrysanthemum plants rapidly to death.

Chrysanthemums: Chrysanthemum flowers

The cultivation of hybrid chrysanthemum flowers, which has been carried out for centuries, has given rise to many shapes and sizes of inflorescences; there are even 13 different types of chrysanthemum flowers. In Italy these flowers are used mainly for the recurrence of all the saints, for decorated tombstones, but in the rest of the world the chrysanthemums do not have this fatal meaning, and therefore have a greater diffusion throughout the year. In reality, even in Italy, chrysanthemums are almost always present by the florist, and come in bouquets and bouquets for every taste and wallet. The most spectacular chrysanthemums are the large ones, and every year new varieties are produced, with ever-larger flowers or with very particular colors. Particularly appreciated are the large-sized spider chrysanthemums, with the central disc completely hidden by the petals, with petals of various lengths, which give the flower an arachnoid appearance.
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