A wide range of flower forms, sizes and colors put mums among the most versatile of all cut flowers.
by Steven W. Brown, aifd
1. bloom science. Chrysan-themums display “composite” flower heads of ray flowers (petal-like florets) and disk flowers (tiny florets in the center) in numerous forms and sizes. These plants may have single-flowered stems (standards, disbuds), or they can be pinched to form multiple-flowered stems (spray).
2. flower forms. There are many flower forms, including daisy, spider/fuji, cushion, button, anemone, decorative, incurve, quill and spoon-tip. All forms are available in many colors. Because of their diverse sizes and shapes, chrysanthemums can be used as either form, mass or filler flowers in floral designs.
3. taxonomic classes. Chrysanthemums are members of the Asteraceae (Compositae)family, commonly known as the Composite/Aster/ Sunflower family. In addition, florists’ chrysanthemums, which were once categorized in the genus Chrysanthemum, are now classified in the genus Dendranthema (D. x grandiflorum).
4. family matters. Among the dozens of relatives in this huge family are marguerite daisy(Argyranthe-mum), China aster (Callistephus), cornflower/bachelor’s button (Centaurea), Cineraria, Gerbera, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), marigold (Tagetes) and Zinnia.
5. name game. The genus name “Dendranthema” comes from the Greek word “dendron,”meaning “tree,” and “anthemon,” meaning “flower,” referring to the flowers’ often woody stems. “Chrysanthemum” is from the Greek word “chryos,” meaning “golden,” and “anthemon,” meaning “flower.”
6. asian royalty. Chrysanthe-mums originated in China prior to 500 b.c. and were introduced to Japan in a.d. 400, when they became the emblem of the country’s imperial family. The Chrysanthemum Throne is the common term for the Imperial Throne of Japan, the oldest monarchy in the world.
7. when and how to buy. Chrysanthemums are available year round from both domestic and international growers. When purchasing these flowers, check for signs of discoloration on petals, which can indicate old flowers and/or flowers grown or shipped too cold. Avoid flowers that show blackening in the center (disk) florets.
8. chrysanthemum care. Upon these flowers’ arrival in your shop, immediately unpack the box(es), and remove bindings and sleeves from the bunches. Then remove from the stems any foliage that would be under water in the storage containers. Next, cut stem ends at an angle with a sharp knife or pruner (do not pound, smash or split stem ends), and dip or place the stem ends into a hydrating solution, following product directions, then place them into clean containers with properly prepared flower-food solution. Place the flowers into a floral cooler and let them hydrate, while cooling, for at least two hours before designing with or selling them.
9. a long, cool life. Store chrysanthemums in a floral cooler at 33 F to 35 F to extend the life of the blossoms. Check the flower-food solution level daily, and recut the stems and change the solution every other day. Also remove any damaged or faded florets. Depending on care and variety, cut chrysanthemums can last for seven to 14 days or longer.
10. medicinal and culinary. Infusions of chrysanthemum leaves, flowers and roots have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes as well as to make wine. Today, young sprouts and petals of organically grown chrysanthemums are frequently used in salads and to provide flavorings in other culinary creations.
David Repetto; A. Repetto Nursery Inc.; Half Moon Bay, Calif.
National Chrysanthemum Society Inc., USA; www.mums.org
Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San Francisco with 29 years of consulting and educational experience in the floral industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 239-3140.