Chicago Botanic Garden

What's in Bloom

What's in Bloom — Highlight 11.02.12

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Matchsticks mum (Chrysanthemum 'Matchsticks') is in the English Walled Garden.


We are retiring the What's In Bloom cart in front of the Visitor Center for the season with a tribute to the diversity of flower types within the genus Chrysanthemum, including Ajania, a flower until recently classified as a chrysanthemum. Join us online again Tuesday for continuing weekly updates from our greenhouses. Our bloom cart will return in spring.

The flowers of Matchsticks quill-flowered mum (Chrysanthemum 'Matchsticks') are golden yellow with fire-engine-red tips. The quill form is created when normally flat petals don't split down a seam as they mature. The red at the tips of this cultivar is the color that would be seen if this was a daisy-flowered mum.

This hardy cultivar does not need pinching or staking to reach the mature height and spread of 2 feet by 2 feet in the garden, and it often produces an early flush of flowers in July in addition to the spectacular main display from September through early November. Like all mums, butterflies and other insects that feed on nectar find this plant irresistible.


Ajania pacifica, gold and silver chrysanthemum, used to be included in the genus Chrysanthemum until recent DNA analysis placed it in its own genus. The scalloped, silver-edged leaves are the perfect foil for the bright yellow, buttonlike flowers that arrive in fall. This hardy plant will grow to 1 foot in height and up to 4 feet in width.

The flowers of Ajania lack the sterile flowers (florets) seen on members of most of the ornamental chrysanthemums. The yellow button is actually composed of hundreds of small, yellow, fertile flowers.

Gold and silver chrysanthemum (Ajania pacifica) is in the English Walled Garden.


Pittsburgh™ Purple mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium 'PL&MA') is another example of a mum with quill-like flowers. The deep purple flowers on this nonhardy mum are a show stopper.

Quill- , spoon- , and spider- or Japanese-flowered mums are all closely related. The differences between them depend upon the extent the florets remain rolled, and whether the tips curve down or stay horizontal to the soil surface.

Pittsburgh™ Purple mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium 'PL&MA') is in the Landscape Garden.


Innocence mum (Chrysanthemum 'Innocence') is covered by pale pink flowers on a hardy perennial plant maturing at 2 feet in height and width. These daisy-shaped flowers are closest to the wild species in shape and form.

Innocence mum (Chrysanthemum 'Innocence') is in the English Walled Garden.


Ashley Dark Orange decorative garden mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium 'Ashley Dark Orange') represents the flower shape most people associate with mums. 

Most of the small, yellow, fertile flowers (seen prominently in daisy-flowered mums and Ajania) are replaced with sterile florets that are very ornamental. This characteristic is genetically stable, and is passed down to future generations. Supporting healthy populations of pollinating insects, the fertile flowers are still present, but visually hidden.

Ashley Dark Orange mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium 'Ashley Dark Orange') is in the Sensory Garden.