Chrysanthemums are punctuation. They’re commas and periods for most of the summer—basic elements of the garden book that mostly escape notice, unless they’re in the wrong place—but in fall, they become exclamation points. By October, they’re often the only spot of color in a yard, other than a bright orange jack o’ lantern. As exclamation points go, the ‘Grandchild’ chrysanthemum is particularly lovely and allows you to finish the season with a flourish. The purple-pink double blooms on this garden mum are about 2½ inches across and they bloom in a cushion shape over the bushy, compact plant.
Common name: ‘Grandchild’ chrysanthemum
Botanical name: Chrysanthemum ‘Grandchild’
Plant type: Perennial
Zones: 5 to 9
Height: 1½ to 2 feet
• Sun: Best in full sun; tolerates light shade
• Soil: Humusy, well-drained
• Moisture: Average to moist
• Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture in the soil.
• Pruning: Pinch stems regularly until midsummer to encourage busy growth.
• Fertilizer: Mums bloom best in rich soil; add compost before planting and occasionally apply organic fertilizer.
• By stem cuttings and division.
Pests and diseases
• Leaf miners, spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies may be problems.
• Vulnerable to white rust, gray mold, and powdery mildew.
• ‘Grandchild’ is an early-season mum. It blooms from late summer to early autumn.
• Because of its modest size, ‘Grandchild’ is an excellent choice for fall containers.
• ‘Grandchild’ is great for cut flowers.
• In colder climates, mulch ‘Grandchild’ heavily for the winter, and remove mulch in early spring.
• Although ‘Grandchild’ is a perennial in most U.S. zones, many gardeners choose to grow it (and other chrysanthemums) as an annual.
All in the family
• Other members of the Asteraceae family include asters, sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), and safflowers (Carthamus spp).
• Perennial chrysanthemums are native to Russa, China, Japan, and the Arctic. Annual types are from the Mediterranean.
(Text by Elizabeth Noll, photo of Chrysanthemum ‘Grandchild’ courtesy of Tracy Walsh.)