The Many Varieties of Chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemum (also known as 'chrissies' or 'mums') brings colour and brightness to autumn gardens. There is a large variation in the type of chrysanthemums available.

Chrysanthemum blooms have two types of florets – ray florets and disc florets. Ray florets correspond to the petals on a daisy and disc florets to the centre parts of a daisy. In a chrysanthemum, the disc florets are not always apparent. Some modern varieties have different colours between the disc and ray florets or bi-coloured ray florets with different colours on the face and reverse surfaces.

Pink ChrysanthemumCredit: Wikimedia

The National Chrysanthemum Society of the United States recognises 13 classes for the different varieties of blooms.

Irregular Incurve – The giant blooms of the chrysanthemum genus are of the irregular incurve group. The petals loosely curve inwards making fully closed centres. The lower petals present an irregular appearance and may give a skirted effect. Flower size is usually 6 to 8 inches in diameter but only if all bar a few buds are removed.

Reflex – The petals of this class appear somewhat like the plumage of a bird. The petals curve downwards and overlap. The tops of the flowers are full but rather flattened. Bloom size is 4 to 6 inches.

Yellow ChrysanthemumCredit: Wikimedia

Regular Incurve – The flowers have an equal breadth and depth. It is a true globular bloom where the petals incurve smoothly to form a ball. The flower size is 4 to 6 inches.

Decorative blooms are flattened with short petals. As with all the above groups, the centre disk should not be visible. The upper petals tend to incurve and the lower petals reflex. The diameter of the bloom is 5 inches or more.

Intermediate Incurve - Smaller (but still 6 inches or more) than the irregular incurve with shorter petals. The petals curve in only partially and the centres are full giving a more open appearance.

White ChrysanthemumCredit: Wikimedia

Pompon – A small globular bloom which can range from a small button type to large blooms of almost 4 inches in diameter. The flower may be rather flat when young but becomes fully round when mature. The centre is fully concealed by the incurved or reflexed florets. This type is often grown to provide blooms for sprays.

Single and Semi-Double – Daisy-like flowers with a centre disk and one or more rows of ray florets. The diameter is greater than 4 inches.

Anemone - Similar to the semi-doubles but with a raised cushion-like centre. Flower diameter is greater than 4 inches and plant height around 3 foot.

Spoon - the tubular florets flare at the end into spoon-like tips which may be lighter in colour to the rest of the petal. The centre disk is round and visible. Flower size is 4 inches or more.

Quill – The florets are straight and tubular with open tips. It is a fully double bloom with no open centre and a diameter of 6 inches or more.

Bi-tone ChyrsanthemumCredit: Wikimedia

Spider - The ray petals are long, arching and tubular. They may coil or hook at the ends and can vary from very fine to coarse. Flower diameter 6 inches or more. To focus the plant's energy and ensure large blooms, all buds except the top one of each stem should be removed.

Brush or Thistle – Brush chrysanthemums have fine tubular florets. These grow parallel to the stem resembling an artist's paint brushes. Thistle chrysanthemums have flattened and twisted florets. The flower size is less than 2 inches.

Unclassified – Those flowers which don't fit any of the other classes. They often have twisted petals and one or more characteristics of other classes.

Another group of chrysanthemums is the cascade type which has a trailing habit, masses of small single flowers and 4 to 6 feet long flexible stems. These make a stunning statement cascading over a wall or similar.