How to get Chrysanthemums to Bloom

Welcome back to The Vibgyor Chronicles in the new year. I hope all of you have had a stupendous start to 2016, whether you hope to stick to your resolutions or have already ditched them. I’m a little late on the new year wishing bandwagon, but as long as it’s still January, it’s valid ๐Ÿ˜€

Chilling winters have been putting me out of action here in Delhi. While the chill isn’t as bad as last year, it is still chilly enough for me. I’m like that one friend everyone has, who’s always cold. So much so, that my fingers and toes are scary freezing cold all the time and it takes me ages to warm up. Given these circumstances, I clearly couldn’t (read: didn’t want to) spend hours in the garden serving my plants. However, I didn’t want a barren garden either, since most of the plants I have are summer bloomers. So what did I do? I brought some lovely colourful and low maintenance winter bloomers for my garden – Marigolds and Chrysanthemums. They’re known as Genda and Guldaudi in Hindi, and given the number of balconies sporting these very plants, their popularity cannot be doubted!

Please click on the images to enlarge them.

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My Orange Marigold. Four blooms and about forty buds!
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My lemon Marigold. Looks lime green before fully opening

While Marigolds are available in yellow and orange (red sometimes), the sheer variety available in Chrysanthemums in terms of size and colour is dazzling. They’re available in red, white, yellow, pink, purple, magenta, orange, rust…. phew. Even combinations of different colours in a single flower can be found.

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My white chrysanthemum – four big flowers and about ten buds ๐Ÿ˜€
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Two adjacent blooms on my white chrysanthemum

Take a look at some breathtaking colours of Chrysanthemums:

I’ve had requests from friends who want to know how to get their Chrysanthemums to bloom. Given they’re low maintenance, there’s not much to do there. However, every plant could use some help and a few simple tricks employed timely go a long way in making your plant look beautiful.

  • Planting – Chrysanthemums take some time to root properly and grow buds only when they’re at home in the new environment. Plant them around late November – mid December, and let them adjust to the surroundings for two to three weeks.
  • The cardinal rule – Remove ALL flowers and buds of the plant when potting it at home. Nurseries usually keep heavily flowering plants to attract customers. A flower laden plant not only looks attractive, it also signals that you do not have to wait for it to flower. Most of us suffering fromย  what I call “The instant noodles syndrome” fall for this trick. When you buy a plant from a nursery, try to take one with as few blooms as possible. A new plant needs energy to establish itself in its new home and if itโ€™s laden with blooms, all its energy goes in maintaining them and it perishes; not having energy left to sustain its vital systems.
  • Pinching – Removing the first set of buds with secateurs is known to be beneficial in getting Chrysanthemums to bloom. I know it sounds counterproductive, but hear me out. Once your plant is potted, it will start budding in about a month. The first buds will be weak and few in number. By cutting them off, you will force the plant to produce more branches, and usually most new branches have more than one bud on them. This practice known as “pinching” is often used to proliferate flowering in plants.
  • Deadheading – Once your Chrysanthemums start blooming, the next step is to extend the blooming period. “Deadheading” is basically removal of all dead and dying flowers. This helps the plant save the energy it would spend in sustaining the dying flowers. The plant can then transfer its energy to the buds, helping them bloom faster, and also in producing new buds.
  • Maintenance of the plant – Chrysanthemums need full sun to bloom. Place them in the most sunny portion of your house. Occasional helpings of compost manure, or even used coffee grounds to the soil will fuel the plant and help it grow more buds. If maintained well, Chrysanthemums can survive throughout the year and bloom again in the next winter. Just keep them out of the worst of the mid day sun in summers.

Even if you’ve missed out on planting Chrysanthemums till now, you can still get the late blooming varieties and beautify your garden. So that is all I have to say about Chrysanthemums today. So go on then, get some pretty Marigolds and Chrysanthemums for yourself to bring some beautiful sunshine colours on your balcony in these arid winters! Until I see you again, keep calm and keep pruning ๐Ÿ™‚

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