Chrysanthemums, often simply called “mums”, are the mainstay of the late autumn garden in temperate regions, their colorful pompoms spreading cheer long after the rest of the flowerbed has given up for the year. These hardy mums or garden mums are usually hybrids between C. morifolum and other species.
Chrysanthemums like at least 6 hours of sunlight per day but do not like heat. They aren’t too picky about soil as long as it isn’t extremely acidic or alkaline. Plant seeds or transplants outside after all danger of frost has past to enjoy their blooms all summer into the fall.
Although “hardy mums” are sold in the autumn, they are best planted in the spring so they can get established.
Varieties of Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum coronarium – garland mum, crown daisy, shungiku, chop suey greens. Small flowers, yellow or white or bicolor. Edible greens. This is an annual and will die back after the first frost.
Chrysanthemum [or Tanacetum] cinerariaefolium – Pyrethrum. Used as an insect repellent. Toxic to fish and insects, less harmful to mammals. Not recommended for culinary use.
Metaphysical Properties of Chrysanthemum
Chrysanthemum has been used for burial rituals and is a suitable decoration for Samhain and for ancestral altars.
The dried flower heads of chrysanthemum can be burned during house blessing ceremonies.
Chrysanthemum for Healing
In Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum is called Ju Hua and is used in formulas to dispel heat.
An infusion of dried chrysanthemum petals has been used as a tea to lower high blood pressure brought on by stress and as an eyewash to relieve redness and pain from eyestrain. You can also place the whole flower over your eyelids for the same purpose or make a warm compress of the petals.
Chrysanthemum tea can also be used as an aid to a detox regimen and to help support the immune system in its fight against the common cold and other respiratory infections and fever. It is rich in antioxidants. It is also used to relieve insomnia due to stress or anger.
Chewing a few leaves per day is said to give relief from migraines.
The fragrant yellow chrysanthemums are favored for healing purposes.
Culinary Uses for Chrysanthemum
All varieties of chrysanthemum have edible flower petals, but only Chrysanthemum coronarium has edible leaves, which have a mustard-like flavor when young and are popular in Asian cuisine.
Chrysanthemum flower petals are used in herbal teas and added to salads for a splash of color.
Chrysanthemum flowers and greens are rich in antioxidants and many beneficial minerals.
Other Uses for Chrysanthemum
Cut chrysanthemums last a long time and look great in floral arrangements.