Garden Plant of the Month for September: Cushion Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums are often thought of as cut flowers, but there is also a wide range of other chrysanthemums. In autumn in particular the range features cushion chrysanthemums, which flower when the days are short. The plant responds to the short days by creating buds. They’re branched, bushy plants in many different colours and flower shapes. Cushion chrysanthemums are very suitable for use outdoors in the garden or on the balcony, patio, garden paths or by the front door. The plants flower so profusely that the foliage is completely hidden. The attractive floral domes provide weeks of pleasure, which is why they’re deservedly the Garden Plant of the Month for September!
From August onwards the days start get shorter, and that’s the time when the ‘short day’ plants start producing buds. One of those plants is the cushion chrysanthemum. The diameter of the hemispheres can range from 20 up to 60-80 cm. there are even some specimens with a span of more than 120 cm. The colours and flower shapes are astonishing: beautiful shades of pink, lilac or white, but particularly attractive autumn shades from yellow and orange through to red and brown, just like the autumn colours that are starting to show on the leaves. There are single and double flowered varieties, but also species with spatula-shaped or spider-like petals. The name chrysanthemum means “golden flower”. It’s a combination of the Greek words ‘chrysos’ (= gold) and ‘anthemon’ (= flower). Many species are therefore yellow in colour.
Caring for cushion chrysanthemums
A cushion chrysanthemum is an easy plant. By following a couple of tips the plant will keep flowering from months, from August till November until the frosts arrive. In a light spot in partial shade through to full sun, the plant will transform into a colourful hemisphere. Regularly water the cushion chrysanthemums in the pot, and never allow the soil to dry out. The large dome means that the rainwater does not always reach the soil, so it can dry out. You should therefore check the soil regularly. A lavishly flowering plant needs extra energy, so give it some plant food once a fortnight. Regularly removing old wilted flowers will allow you to enjoy your cushion chrysanthemums even longer.
Tips for pruning and keeping cushion chrysanthemums
The plant can be brought to flower again next year once it has finished flowering. Place the plant in a cool but frost-free spot before the frosts come, and cut it back to a few centimetres above the ground in early spring The plant can go outdoors again in March/April, and when the days are longer than 12 hours it will form stems and leaves. Once the days start getting shorter, the cushion chrysanthemum will flower again so it becomes a feature in the garden in late summer and autumn once more!
Read more on The Joy of Plants »