Chrysanthemums: Mums for Moms

The chrysanthemum was first cultivated in China in the 15th century and was introduced to the Western world during the 17th century. While the earliest illustrations of chrysanthemums show them as small, daisy-like flowers, hybridizers have developed a veritable rainbow of colours and a variety of sizes. Elaine Graham, president of the Point Grey Chrysanthemum Association, says there are several new varieties to look out for. One of these is the Belgian Chrysanthemum. “A limited number of these plants were available locally last year, and this year we hope to see more on the market. For someone who wants to start growing chrysanthemums, try and get a rooted cutting.” Graham says the colours are spectacular, ranging from yellows and bronzes to pinks and burgundy. The plant itself has an interesting mounded shape.

However, when you buy a potted mum, once the plant finishes flowering, instead of planting it in the garden to try for a second bloom, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is asking people to dispose of the plant with the household garbage. This follows reports of Chrysanthemum White Rust (CWR) being found in the Lower Mainland last year. This is a serious chrysanthemum disease caused by the fungus Puccinia horiana. The disease survives inside the plant, so if a chrysanthemum with CWR overwinters in the garden, it can spread the disease next fall to other chrysanthemums in your garden and surrounding gardens.

And while no cases of CWR have been found recently, the Agency is still asking people to play it safe and dispose of the plants after blooming.