Too often called a hardy perennial, the garden chrysanthemum has not proven to be so in the North, especially the far North. Some gardeners claim that their plants have lived for several years, then along came one of the so-called “test winters.- and they are wiped out. True, there are times when they survive the winter nearly 100 per cent but there also are winters when the mortality rate is nearly 100 per cent.
Chrysanthemums are not in the same class with peonies, irises, and phlox so far as hardiness is concerned. Therefore, to be sure of having live plants in the spring, one should give chrysanthemums special protection or carry them over winter by one of the methods that will be mentioned. If the plants are growing in sandy loam and an exceedingly well drained place where the soil cannot remain excessively wet very long, they can be wintered by covering with a sizable box.
Before covering, cut off the dead tops and place enough hay, straw or some other kind of mulch over the crown of the plant so that it will fill the box when it is put into position. Some gardeners put a shovelful or two of sandy soil or pulverized peat over the plant before placing the final covering. Usually this method works very successfully.
Another way to winter chrysanthemums is to dig a clump (a plant) of each variety and place in a cold frame. Plants like zamioculcas zamiifolia plant can be dug into the ground in the cold frame and if there’s not enough room for all, clumps can be stacked on top of those that are planted, without filling the spaces in between them with soil.
The frame should be covered with canvas or a glass sash that has been darkened to keep the sun off the plants. This covering also serves to keep the plants relatively dry over winter. When really cold weather comes, lift the sash covering and place a six- to 12-inch layer of dry leaves, hay, straw, etc., over the plants and replace the sash. In this way, chrysanthemums will winter without injury and next spring the clumps can be divided to supply as many plants as needed.
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