Hardy Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum x rubellum)

Chrysanthemum 'Clara Curtis' - hardy mum
Chrysanthemum x rubellum ‘Clara Curtis’

The most widely grown hardy (or heritage) mum is Chrysanthemum x rubellum ‘Clara Curtis’. It was discovered by Amos Perry in 1929 at Happy Valley Gardens in Llandudno, Wales, where my sister and I often played as children. (Not in 1929, I should add.)

Despite its roots, I see Chrysanthemum ‘Clara Curtis’ far more often in Mississippi than I do here in the UK. It’s a very distinctive variety with luminous pale pink flowers with a touch of lilac. A lax, sprawling plant, its abundant blooms lean over each other in a pile like a heap of puppies watching TV. (Pale pink, daisy-like puppies with yellow noses… OK, you’ve got me – I was trying to see how wild a comparison you’d let me get away with, but that was a step too far, wasn’t it?)

C. ‘Clara Curtis’ merits a post of her own, but today I’m showing some of her sisters – other Chrysanthemum x rubellum hybrids that ought to be as widely grown.

For years my sweetheart has been collecting and trialling hardy mums in his own unique way: leaving them in pots to fend for themselves for many months, boarding them out with friends, giving some away and planting favoured ones in his garden. Every step seems designed to challenge plants to die or, as he would put it, to identify the hardy mums that somehow hang on with no care at all.

Collection of chrysanthemum x rubellum

Many plants do succumb, especially as many of the starts are mere scraps, begged from other gardeners. Some of the fancier ones, such as a sweet pink with spoon-shaped petals and the button style bronze, quickly vanished without trace, despite being accorded a suitable spot in the garden.

Other Chrysanthemum x rubellum hybrids survive winter after winter: a couple of pinks, an apricot-yellow and this bronzy-orange.

Orange heritage mums in a vase

I’m not sure whether the ones pictured here are passalong seedlings or named cultivars. An online search didn’t much help, producing many more names than pictures. The second most commonly mentioned variety is C. ‘Sheffield’, a soft, pinky apricot which I don’t think I’ve seen. At some stage the botanical name has been changed from Dendranthema zawadskii latilobum.

Yellow double chrysanthemum

Most rubellas are singles, but they hybridise readily and I have seen a few doubles.

Chrysanthemum x rubellum 'Judy's Yellow'
Chrysanthemum x rubellum ‘Judy’s Yellow’

My favourite apricot-yellow was labelled ‘Judy’s Yellow’ when we got it, and looks like a paler form of ‘Mary Stoker’.

Pink Chrysanthemum x rubellum

While their form is less dense and perky than the chrysanthemums that are often displayed in flower for a few weeks around Halloween then are thrown away, it’s nice to know that these will be back next year and, if allowed, will spread.

My sweetheart is the real enthusiast, so should be the one to write about them. I am merely sharing a few pictures as a teaser to see if they prompt him into action.

I’ll end by planting a vision of him rushing up last year, evidently very excited, crying, ‘Our mums have got buds! Our mums have got buds!’ It took me quite a few seconds to work out what he meant.

Fresh daisies on floral fabric

33 Replies to “Hardy Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum x rubellum)”

  1. I’ll take the “soft, pinky apricot,” please. I have the hunch it was greatly relieved not to be Dendranthema zawadskii latilobum any more. I must tell you that my computer had a narrow escape when I got to your parenthetical “not in 1929” because I’d just taken an immoderate sip of coffee and very nearly lost it all over the computer. I wasn’t ready for that. I think I can understand how a mum with buds might be hard to picture. I love the photo with the flowers on the fabric.

    1. I’m glad your computer was spared a coffee dousing. I would not care to have to answer to latilobum, especially as ‘bum’ is synonymous with ‘butt’ in UK English (assuming ‘butt’ is fairly innocuous, which I am never sure about).

      1. Of all the words that make us blush, of which there are a growing number, “butt” is low on the list! Yes, no one should have to answer to “latilobum.”

    1. It’s funny how some flowers are so closely associated with certain events. Something to do with flowering season, no doubt, but it runs deeper than that.

  2. Lovely. I love all of them. I’m growing some I’ve inherited from relatives. They are very carefully propagated each year to keep them going. So cheerful at the end of the year.

  3. Oh, I do love mums. To this Mainer, they signify fall, an especially beautiful time in Maine. I like your sweetheart’s approach and his enthusiasm for buds. His garden must be a beautiful sight to behold.

  4. A pile of puppies watching television is not so far fetched compared to the analogies that ‘some of us’ use. I get it.
    Chrysanthemum frutescens, which is now known as Argyranthemum frutescens, was the common Marguerite daisy or Paris daisy that I remember from when Flower Children passed them about on the sidewalks downtown, or placed them into rifle barrels while protesting the War in Vietnam. (The flowers in the famous photograph ‘Flower Power’ are supposed to be carnations, but they look like some sort of daisy chrysanthemum to me.) I have not seen that formerly common variety in decades. The flowers were bigger than the variety that most closely resembles it now. Others are pale yellow or pink, or double, . . . anything but those familiar old Paris daisies. Are they still around?

    1. I hadn’t hear the term ‘Paris daisies’ before. An internet search suggested Marguerites, which I had heard, but wouldn’t be able to pick out in a daisy identification parade. I do think they are grown here and probably more widely than these ones.

      1. Yes, they are known more commonly as marguerites. However, those that look like those that I remember have smaller flowers. Otherwise, they are about the same. They just have smaller but slightly more profuse flowers.

  5. Seems to me your comparison is very apt. I love crazy and creative comparisons.

    The sixth and seventh images show my favourites in this post’s display. Strange to say as I’m not a big fan of yellow flowers, but then they’ve got a hint of pale apricot and pink as well. Perhaps that’s their secret – hints of colours I do favour.

    1. I’m glad you like that one too. I’d find it hard to say what makes me like a colour or not – it’s a definite preference for a shade of a colour rather than the colour group. I like purity, but also a subtle blend, as in the yellow one. ‘Clara Curtis’ is a nice mix too.

  6. It is fascinating, the subject of what thrives and what doesn’t, Susan. We favour the fend for themselves guys but I do get soft spots for some of the more vulnerable ones. 🙂 🙂 All the very best to you and yours this festive season, and far beyond!

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