Known as the "Flower of Happiness", the Far East has been growing chrysanthemums for over 2000 years.

by Sharon Asakawa

In Japan, only nobility were allowed to grow it and only the Emperor of Japan and his family could use the chrysanthemum as their family crest. During the Victorian period, chrysanthemums became the rage and wondrous shapes, sizes and colors were grown and exhibited in European flower shows.

Up to the 1960s, “football mums” were the corsages of choice for fall football games. They were mega-sized flowers decorated with ribbons, sequins and other flotsam that became a football game tradition. Now most of the box stores limit the mum selections to early-flowering button and low-growing carpet varieties.

Instead of these rather mundane chrysanthemums commonly sold, seek out mail order companies and specialty garden centers, that continue to carry on the regal tradition of breeding astonishing mums from football mums, exotic spiders and striking Fujis to flowering cascades in just about every color of the rainbow including green and bronze. King’s Mums is an excellent mail order source that ships from March through June.

Relatively easy to care for, chrysanthemums need full sun and regular water planted directly in the ground or in containers. For the largest flowers, disbud by removing all the lateral flower buds from each stem, leaving only the top central bud to develop and stake to support stems that are heavy with blooms. Long after the blossoms of summer have faded, the “Queen of Fall Flowers” will display its majestic beauty announcing that fall is nothing to be mum about.