CHRYSANTHEMUM

CHRYSANTHEMUM

The Chrysanthemum genus, which belongs to the Asteraceae (composite) family, includes numerous species. Chrysanthemums that we are all familiar with, have a history that goes back 2000 years to China where they were used as ornamental plants and from where they were imported in 1789. In the language of flowers of the 19th century, chrysanthemums expressed doubt and expectation and were given to sweethearts who, with their contradictory behavior, caused pain and despair, hence the meaning to “inspire courage in times of trouble”. Because of this second meaning, together with the natural flowering period (which coincides with the moment in which Christian religious traditions celebrate the memory of the dead), in Italy, this flower is closely associated with such religious rites. Because the blooming of chrysanthemums is tied to sensitive biochemical factors that respond to the effects of the hours of light and of darkness, floriculturists have been able to program the cultivation of the flowers and to provide chrysanthemums all year round thanks to artificial lighting. Today, many varieties of potted chrysanthemums are available from September up to early November. To begin with, “Chrysanthemum Parthenium”, that has a spectacular bloom with little flowers that form colourful crowns, followed by numerous varieties with small, medium and big flowers, of many shapes and colours. Among the most curious are those with star-like flowers called “Spiders” that resemble snowflakes. Potted chrysanthemums are sold when about to flower or when already in bloom. They can be kept in the same vase or can be repotted; the important thing is to place them in full sun or in part-shade. In both cases, flowering will last from 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the variety and to the environmental conditions. Once flowered, one can place the plants in a sheltered spot to protect them from frost. Apart from a little watering, no other care is required until the following spring. When the plants start to vegetate, they must be fed once a month with a complex soluble fertilizer. The plants have a good resistance to cold, as long as the temperature doesn’t go below 0°C. If it is repotted, the substratum must be a mix of 70% organic compost and 30% inert material such as sand, perlite, or expanded clay that guarantees good drainage. During flowering, one can feed the plants with a complex soluble fertilizer. During the same period, due to low temperatures, no treatment against disease will be necessary. If one wishes to continue the cultivation after the flowering period the vases must be kept in a sheltered site all winter, to be placed in the garden only the following spring.

pianta da fiore crisantemo