Chrysanthemum| Meaning, Types, Tea, Growing

One of the flowers that I encounter so often is the chrysanthemum. In fact, I came to learn that they are the most common flower after roses. Chrysanthemums are sometimes referred to as chrysanths or mums. The flower is a favorite for gardeners, florists as well as flower lovers like myself.

The article contains information about chrysanthemums, their history as well as other facts. It also includes a discussion of the meaning of chrysanthemums according to bloom color as well as in different cultures. The different types of mums and how to grow them and take care of them are also included. The uses of chrysanthemums are included and especially benefits of chrysanthemum tea and how to make it.

Chrysanthemums are perennial plants. The flower produces blossoms that can be found in almost all colors of the rainbow. The blooms have become showier and the colors more varied because of the extensive breeding that has resulted in many more cultivars and hybrids. Although this is the case, the traditional mum was yellow in color. Today the most popular mums are red, purple and white in color.

The chrysanthemums have a long flowering period which starts in early autumn and continues into the summer. The mum is also the flower for the month of November.

The Mums are native to East Asia specifically China where the flower was cultivated as a flowering herb. The tropical flower belongs to one of the largest families with over 20,000 species. The flower was taken to Japan from China by Buddhist monks. The mums were so popular in Japan that the emperors sat up on chrysanthemum thrones. The Imperial Seal of Japan is a chrysanthemum, additionally, the institution of the monarchy is referred to as the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The mums were introduced into the American horticulture when a Colonel imported some from England.

Chrysanthemum Meanings

The meaning of chrysanthemums is not only associated with the color of the bloom but it also varies depending on the variety and the cultural context. In general, the mums symbolize optimism, joy, fidelity, and long life.

Chrysanthemum’s Meanings according to color

  • White is used for symbolizing loyal love, honesty, and
  • Red is used to symbolize love.
  • Yellow is used to symbolize slighted love.

Chrysanthemum’s meanings according to cultures

  • Some European countries use in curve chrysanthemums to symbolize death. They use the in curve mums only on graves and in funerals.
  • In China, the white mums are used to symbolize adversity, grief, and lamentation. However, the white mums are used in other countries to symbolize honesty.
  • In the United States, the chrysanthemums are generally used to symbolize cheerfulness and positivity.
  • In Australia, the white chrysanths are a great Mother’s Day gift. In fact, on Mother’s Day, some people wear a white mum to honor their mothers.

Chrysanthemum Types


The many varieties of chrysanthemum in the world have been classified into several categories to aid non-botanists in identifying them. Of course, gardeners, florists, and consumers like me and you also use aspects such as color, shape, bloom time, petal arrangement, and size in an attempt to differentiate the hundreds of varieties.

  • Anemone chrysanthemums have a bloom with a raised center which is surrounded by darker and shorter petals that are in sharp contrast with the daisy-like petals that radiate from the center. The anemones are mostly found at specialty nurseries and not at common garden centers. Examples include Daybreak and Mansetta Sunset.
  • Cushion chrysanthemums are varieties that produce average-sized blooms in masses. These varieties are hardy, bushy and low-growing. Examples include Valour, Chiffon and Ruby Mound.
  • Decorative chrysanthemums produce showy blossoms that have several rows of full, curved petals. The plants are short but produce big blooms. Example include Indian Summer and Tobago.
  • Pompom chrysanthemums are the smallest among the different varieties. They produce cute little colorful globe shaped blooms. Each of the stems produces several of the small pompoms. Examples in this category include Pixie and Moonbeam. Amongst the varieties, the tiniest are referred to as button chrysanthemums and include Baby tears and Small Wonder.
  • Quill chrysanthemums present straight, long, tube-shaped petals. The varieties are often annuals that require extra work and are not cold tolerant. Examples include Muted Sunshine and Matchsticks.
  • Reflexed chrysanthemums produce ray flowers that curve downwards forming umbrella-shaped blooms.
  • Single chrysanthemums are one of the most common types. The flowers produce lobed or toothed leaves which produce a distinct aroma when crushed. The blooms have a flat center with up to five rows of long daisy-shaped rows radiating from the center. Examples include Tenderness, Daisy, and Amber Morning.
  • Spider chrysanthemums produce long, curling petals that resemble spiders resting on stems. The Spider varieties are not as common. Examples include Cremon and Anastasia.
  • Spoon chrysanthemums produce long, spoon-shaped petals that radiate from the center of the bloom. Examples include Happy face and Starlet.

Growing Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums can be propagated using seeds, cuttings, roots as well as seedlings and big plants from nurseries. The plants do well when planted under full sunshine and produce the most flowers.

It is important to select the variety that best suits your needs because the varieties are too different. An example is deciding whether you want the small blooms such as the buttons or the large ones which can be as big as a football. You should also consider color, height and the time of bloom.

  • When establishing seeds, it can be done directly in site on prepared soil which should be properly timed so that they will bloom at least 2 months prior to the first frost. The seedlings are them thinned after germination. Alternatively, the seeds can be started indoors during early Spring and later transplanted into the garden.
  • When establishing root divisions, it should be done in the Spring when the new growth appears. Dig up the clumps and separate them using a sharp knife. Remove diseased and dead parts. Replant the divisions in the well-drained, loose and rich soil.
  • When establishing using cuttings use a fresh healthy cutting that is about four to six inches tall. Use a clean sharp knife to remove the lower half of the leaves. Dip about 3/4 inch of the cutting’s end into a rooting hormone. Insert about an inch of the cutting’s end into the sterile moist sand, vermiculite or straight into the soil. The set up should be placed in a greenhouse environment and not in direct sunlight. Those planted in the soil should be wrapped in a transparent plastic bag which can be secured with a wire frame to create a mini-greenhouse effect. The roots will form and be established in about four weeks. Remove the wrapping and let the plant grow naturally.
  • The seedlings and plants are just established on the ground. The ideal spacing is between 18-36 inches apart for best results.

Chrysanthemum Care

After establishment, the chrysanthemums beds should be hoed, weeded and watered regularly. Also, note that the mum’s seedlings are pinched (3/4 of an inch) when they are about six inches tall often achieved after a few weeks to make them spread, bushy and produce more blooms. The chrysanthemums should also be pinched on each brunch when they reach a foot tall.

The tall varieties may require staking especially if grown in windy positions or places.

Fertilize the chrysanthemums with a good balanced all-purpose fertilizer. The fertilizing should be done before the plants ready to bloom and be discontinued after flower buds form.

Chrysanthemums are susceptible to plant bugs, aphids, stunt, leafspot and foliar nematodes. You should make regular checks to monitor for diseases and pests and take the necessary measures to control them.

You can expect chrysanthemums to flower about three months after sowing.

Uses of Chrysanthemums

The obvious use of chrysanthemums for most people is as a flower that either brightens their gardens or as a cut flower that brings some needed life to their living spaces. Chrysanthemums are used in the making of essential oils, insect repellants, and fragrances. One other common use of chrysanthemums is the tea.

Chrysanthemum Tea

Chrysanthemums are edible and the petals and tender leaves and stalks can be eaten either on their own or added to salads after plunging them in boiling water (blanching). The mums and have also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.

Chrysanthemum Tea

Chrysanthemum tea is a common product made from the beautiful flower. The tea has a golden hue as well as mild flower flavor similar to that of chamomile tea.

The Chinese use the flower (tea and extracts) to treat high blood pressure, respiratory problems, gout, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, inflammation, and osteoporosis.

How to Make Chrysanthemums Tea

  • When making chrysanthemum tea you can either use the petals you have grown yourself or purchase some dried ones online or in stores.
  • If you use your own flowers, pluck the petals and leave them to dry for several days or use a food dehydrator.
  • Bring the water to a boil and then allow it to cool for about a minute until it reaches 1000
  • Put about 8 oz. of the water in a cup or mug and add 3-6 dried petals.
  • Let the combination of water and petals steep for a few minutes.
  • You can add honey to taste.

You should use flowers from plants that were not sprayed with garden chemicals such as pesticides.

Side effects and allergies of chrysanthemum tea and oil

There are some people who are allergic to chrysanthemums. If you are allergic to daisies, or ragweed, then you are most likely allergic to mums. If you notice a reaction such as respiratory irritation or skin rash please discontinue use.

I have also written another article about flowering teas and the side effects in more details. You can read about it here.

Chrysanthemum products also interact with many prescription drugs to various degrees and its advisable to consult with your physician before using any of the products.

Chrysanthemums have a chemical called pyrethrum which is used in many pesticides. The chrysanthemum oil should be used carefully due to its strong nature. Furthermore, the user should monitor for any form of irritation on the eyes, mouth, nose, and skin that can result from long-term exposure.

Chrysanthemum Exhibitions and Festivals

  • Nihonmatsu Chrysanthemum Dolls Exhibition is hosted by the city of Nihonmatsu in Japan every Autumn. The exhibition features cultivated flowers, bonsai flowers, and miniature landscapes.
  • Masan Gagopa Chrysanthemum Festival in Korea.



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