Modern chrysanthemums are much more showy than their wild relatives. The flowers occur in various forms, and can be daisy-like, decorative, pompons or buttons. This genus contains many hybrids and thousands of cultivars developed for horticultural purposes. In addition to the traditional yellow, other colors are available, such as white, purple, and red. The most important hybrid is Chrysanthemum × morifolium (syn. C. × grandiflorum), derived primarily from C. indicum but also involving other species.
Chrysanthemums are broken into two basic groups, Garden Hardy and Exhibition. Garden hardy mums are new perennials capable of being wintered over in the ground in most northern latitudes. Exhibition varieties are not usually as sturdy. Garden hardies are defined by their ability to produce an abundance of small blooms with little if any mechanical assistance (i.e., staking) and withstanding wind and rain. Exhibition varieties on the other hand require staking, over-wintering in a relatively dry cool environment, sometimes with the addition of night lights.
The Exhibition varieties can be used to create many amazing plant forms; Large disbudded blooms, spray forms, as well as many artistically trained forms, such as: Thousand Bloom, Standard (trees), Fans, Hanging Baskets, Topiary, Bonsai, and Cascades.
Chrysanthemum blooms are divided into 13 different bloom forms by the US National Chrysanthemum Society, Inc., which is in keeping with the international classification system. The bloom forms are defined by the way in which the ray and disk florets are arranged.
Chrysanthemum blooms are composed of many individual flowers (florets), each one capable of producing a seed. The disk florets are in the center of the bloom head, and the ray florets are on the perimeter. The ray florets are considered imperfect flowers, as they only possess the female productive organs, while the disk florets are considered perfect flowers as they possess both male and female reproductive organs.
Irregular Incurve: These are the giants of the chrysanthemum world. Quite often disbudded to create a single giant bloom (ogiku), the disk florets are completely concealed, while the ray florets curve inwardly to conceal the disk and also hang down to create a 'skirt'.
Reflex: The disk florets are concealed and the ray florets reflex outwards to create a mop like appearance.
Regular Incurve: Similar to the irregular incurves, only usually smaller blooms, with nearly perfect globular form. Disk florets are completely concealed. They used to be called 'Chinese'.
Decorative: Similar to reflex blooms without the mop like appearance. Disk florets are completely concealed, ray florets usually don't radiate at more than a 90 degree angle to the stem.
Intermediate Incurve: These blooms are in-between the Irregular and Regular incurves in both size and form. They usually have broader florets and a more loosely composed bloom. Again, the disk florets are completely concealed.
Pompon: *Note the spelling, it is not pompom. The blooms are fully double, of small size, and almost completely globular in form.
Single/Semi-Double: These blooms have completely exposed disk florets, with between 1 and 7 rows of ray florets, usually radiating at not more than a 90 degree angle to the stem.
Anemone: The disk florets are prominently featured, quite often raised and overshadowing the ray florets.
Spoon: The disk florets are visible and the long tubular ray florets are spatulate.
Quill: The disk florets are completely concealed, and the ray florets are tube like.
Spider: The disk florets are completely concealed, and the ray florets are tube like with hooked or barbed ends, hanging loosely around the stem.
Brush & Thistle: The disk florets may be visible. The ray florets are often tube like, and project all around the flower head, or project parallel to the stem.
Exotic: These blooms defy classification as they possess the attributes of more than one of the other twelve bloom types.
Chrysanthemum leaves resemble its close cousin, the mugwort weed — so much so that mugwort is sometimes called wild chrysanthemum — making them not always the first choice for professional gardeners.
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