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Perennial flowers – those that come up year after year – are a great garden boon – and the well known chrysanthemum (known locally as Gul-e-Daudi) is a perfect example.
Cultivated for medicinal, culinary or purely visual reasons in its native China, Japan and Korea, this extensive family of plants thrives, with care, in all parts of our climatically diverse country, and right now you should be able to pick up young specimens, grown in clay pots at your local nursery. They will not yet be in flower, far from it, but will be at the perfect stage for transplanting into garden beds for a long lasting show of colour from early November until the end of February or even mid-March.
Collectively known in their countries of origin as the ‘Flower of Gold’, chrysanthemums are – as a result of generations of careful, natural breeding – available in a reasonably wide range of colours and forms, and range in height from dwarf varieties of just six inches to tall ones of four feet and more.
Chrysanthemums have a general colour spectrum ranging from pure white and cream, through varying shades of yellow, gold and burnished orange to bright pinks and ruby red crimsons. Flower forms include single, double, incurved, reflexed, anemone flowered and pom-poms. Some varieties flower earlier than others so, for a long lasting display, it is advisable to cultivate a mixture of colours and forms.
Happiest in a position that gets lots of morning sun, chrysanthemums must have top class drainage and reasonably rich soil: a soil mix of 30% river sand, 30% organic compost/well rotted manure and 40% sweet earth is ideal and, during the growing/flowering season, a fortnightly feed of an organic liquid fertiliser, one which is reasonably high in calcium, potash and lime, is recommended.
Chrysanthemums can also be grown in pots – a 10-inch clay pot is ideal – and priced from approximately Rs 100 upwards, are well worth having.
– B Khan
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on September 8, 2013.