Many will remember that the City of Salinas recently picked the chrysanthemum as its city flower. Since then, I’ve seen an enormous renewed interest in this famous fall flower.

The first question that is often asked is why did Salinas pick the chrysanthemum? The main reason it was chosen was due to its mention in John Steinbeck’s writings. That said, a number of gardeners nominated the chrysanthemum as a colorful, strong and symbolic flower. Also important is its medicinal value as a flower many claim reduce fevers and aid in digestion.

Chrysanthemum flowers bloom in various forms, and can be daisy-like, decorative, pompoms, or button like. Chrysanthemums also come in a wide variety of sizes and colors too. At one point in time, the Salinas Valley had dozens of growers as the mum was one of the most popular cut flowers on the market.

Each chrysanthemum flower head is actually a cluster of many flowers, composed of a central group of short disk flowers surrounded by rings of longer ray flowers. Chrysanthemums are classified into nine categories according to the type and arrangement of disk and ray flowers.
What many don’t realize is that chrysanthemums are tropical flowers. Their origin stems from China and Southeast Asia where they have been popular for centuries. The chrysanthemum is probably most celebrated in Japan where it is believed to have been introduced by Buddhist monks in AD 400. Japanese emperors liked the mum so much that they sat upon chrysanthemum thrones and featured it in art.

When it comes to growing chrysanthemums, I recommend to most folks that they put them in pots or containers. Be careful where you place them as snails LOVE them. Chrysanthemum’s are easy to propagate by division of roots and cuttings. Some varieties can even be started from seed.

The best part of all, is the fact that fall is here and with it comes an annual supply of beautiful chrysanthemums! If you have any questions regarding the chrysanthemum, contact one of your local nurseries as this time of year, selection and advice will be plentiful!