Cascade Mums

Chrysanthemum Cascade Culture

Blooming cascading Chrysanthemums at Callaway Gardens, GA

History: The earliest variety reported in the United States seems to have been a white variety named “Anna” which was first sold around 1909. Cascades were seldom grown in the United States until after World War II. It was not until June of 1951 that the National Chrysanthemum Society recognized the cascade in their “Show Handbook” and provided a scale for judging entries grown in this form.

Overview: No, chrysanthemums do not naturally grow in the cascade style. They will require your devoted attention through a rather long growing season. In the end, the thrill and joy of a splash of jubilant color tumbling over a patio wall or cascading down the edge of the front steps will more than repay you for all your efforts. The cascade cultivars differ from most chrysanthemums in possessing rapid growth response and limber stems which are free branching with a multitude of small blooms. Blooms are typically single daisy or anemone types, although there are spooned and decorative types as well.

Selection of Cultivar: Some of the recommended cascade cultivars are: the Fleece’s (bronze and pink anemones), Firefall (bright red anemone), Klamath Falls (yellow anemone), Kurume (deep red anemone), Megumi (yellow anemone), Seizan (yellow anemone), Snowfall (white anemone), Sozan (rosy purple anemone) and Vernal Falls (orange anemone). All of these can been seen on our site under the cultiavars/products page under the “cascades” section.

Potting Soil: Any light, well-draining potting soil consisting of peat and bark is recommended.  Avoid anything listed as being for tropical plants and moisture control potting soils.  As with all Chrysanthemum growing, good drainage is critical. Top soil can be incorporated to add weight and nutrient holding capacity at a 1:5 ratio. If you prefer to mix your own, combine 2 parts fibrous loam, 2 parts leaf mold or aged fine fir bark, 1 part rotted manure, 1 part course sand, and 1 part peat moss.

Planting Time and Containers: Cascades must have a long growing season to achieve the necessary long cascading effect. Well rooted cuttings can be obtained as early as the beginning of March from us. If starting/purchasing plants this early in the season care must be taken to prevent the plants from prematurely developing flower buds. Lighting and temperature play a crucial role in the flower development of Chrysanthemums. Plants should be kept warm, above 55 degrees, at all times and night interruption lighting (lighting for 3-4 hours in the middle of the night) should be provided.

As with all plants, it is recommend that they are started in small pots. We recommend using nothing large than a 6 inch pot to begin with. If you are planning to use more than one plant in your final container we recommend starting your plants in 4 inch pots. Using 3 plants in a large container (2-3 gallon/10″-12″) and using one plant per 8″ to 10″ container generally gives good results. Repot to a larger container after 3 to 4 weeks, depending upon the initial pot size that is used and the root development in the initial pot. Do this as soon as the roots fill the small pots not allowing them to become “pot bound”. Allow your cascade to grow naturally in the upright position until transplanting into the final pot. At least one pinch to stimulate lateral branching is recommend before the time of final re-potting . The plants should be approximately 10″ to 12″ in length at the time of the final transplant. It can be beneficial to tie this new growth to a bamboo stake but is not essential. When planting to the final trellised container, plant the cascade leaning over sideways, pointing toward the trellis, so it can be immediately tied in place without having to severely bend the stems.

New Cascade Mum
Cascade in the process of being trained horizontally

Trellised Wire Support:  Proper training and tying to a wire trellis is the easiest method but there is always more than one way to grow plants. During most of the growing season, the easiest way to grow cascades is with the trellis in a flat or horizontal position on a raised bench or on a slanted frame. It is easier to train the plant over sideways or on a slant than to force it straight down. Final lowering to the cascading position is delayed until buds begin to form or open.

Cascading Chrysanthemums being grown on a slanted frame at Callaway Gardens, GA

To make the trellis, begin with a length of 12 gauge galvanized wire, approximately 7 feet long, which is bent to form an elongated U shape. Bend the ends to form hooks which will be placed down inside the bottom of the pot and prevent the trellis from working loose. It can be beneficial to make the wire go to the bottom of the pot so it can not fall out later on. The center of the wire frame should be covered with 2 inch grid wire. This will allow the maximum area for tying down the new growth. The hooked ends of the wire trellis are inserted into the final 10 to 12 inch growing container on either side of the cascade plant. The plant is immediately tied in place on the trellis. Use plastic or paper covered 4 inch twistems for tying. The container, with trellis attached, is kept in a flat/horizontal or slanted position on a raised bench for ease of training. An empty pot may be placed under the terminal end of the trellis to keep it level. The cascade is placed in the final hanging display location and the trellis lowered into position when buds begin to form.

Training and Pinching: Continual training is the most essential part of growing a cascading Chrysanthemum. All new stems, except the leading growing tips, are pinched or stopped when they have reached three or four leaves in length. Lateral growth can be allowed to elongate beyond this, but too much can also be a bad thing becoming rather dense instead of a flat appearance which is more desirable. All new growth is kept tied down and this should be done at least weekly and while stems are soft and supple. If tying down has been neglected, there is a chance of breakage when tying. In this case, withhold water until the plant wilts, making the stems more supple, and then tie. A final shear or pinch is should be done before the flower buds begin to form on the entire plant, generally in late August or early September. Growth regulators can be used two weeks after the final pinch in order to keep the plants from stretching as the flowers form. Your cascade is placed in the final elevated display position where the trellis can be slowly bent downward until the desired cascading effect is reached. This may take several days. Allowing the cascade to wilt during this bending process will help prevent breaking any main stems.

Other Forms: More than one form of cascading plants can be made including balls or upwards into forms of topiaries. If you can imagine it and have the time and desire, it can probably be done!

Chrysanthemum grown as a large flower at Longwood Gardens, PA
Chrysanthemums grown as croquet wickets at Callaway Gardens, GA