Color me Beautiful: Chrysanths placed in borders can make the most dark days brighter

  • Nigel Colborn believes November is the best month for late chrysanthemums
  • UK-based gardening expert copied his dad, growing exhibition varieties as a kid 
  • Reveals exhibition varieties have garden value but need hands-on management 

November is hardly a month for lingering outside, but it’s a wonderful time for late chrysanthemums.

The abbreviation N “Chrysanths” is an abomination, but border varieties are better than American’mums. They are clump-forming, and can be cut like many perennials. They open the earliest in July but can be cut for Christmas. They aren’t as demanding as the flowers of florists, which require a lot of attention.

The most loved border chrysanths is the solitary. They are just one of many. They can be used to create cutting and exhibition plants. They require careful management.

My dad grew exhibit varieties. I was a strange kid who copied his methods. His habit of disbudding them was something I had seen. He would often produce large flowers from the stems. They were probably grown in ammunition boxes from the ex-Army, hoping to explode and become colour.

Pretty in pink: Chrysanthemum Clara Curtis is easy to propagate and resists the cold

Beautiful in pink: Chrysanthemum Clara Curtis can be propagated easily and is resistant to the cold

In every room, huge flowers with a Christmassy smell were dominant from October. Although they are difficult to grow, cut flower varieties such as these can be done. In a greenhouse, they can be grown in the same way as tomatoes.

These are grown using spring cuttings. They can also be bought ready-rooted by specialists, such as For more information, visit nationalchrysanthemum


The border chrysanthemums can be much more difficult. From late July, single-colored Clara Curtis pink flowers to the late November deep-red Duchess or Emperor of China pink tall blooms are available. Many varieties can be cut easily and will last for a long time in water, even single ones. These perennials are not only hardy but also last a lifetime and bloom every year.

Although the flowers can be small or medium in size, they are always abundant. They are great for creating floral arrangements.

Even though garden centres might have some, it is best to purchase chrysanthemums from specialist nurseries. Woolmans offer five hardy border varieties for £11.45. These would be delivered to your home in the spring. You should only order hardy varieties.

Bone-hardy are old favorites like the deep red Duchess or Clara Curtis, and early flowering single pink Clara Curtis. Korean varieties, such as the pink Anastasia or Dr Tom Parr dusky rose, are also suitable. These plants can also be grown indoors. 


Each year, florists start their versions from cuttings. These can be bought ready-rooted from a greenhouse in May. You can also grow your own plants by using a greenhouse.

Lift mature plants during autumn to do so. You can then move them to a greenhouse and plant them in large containers or deep trays. They should be kept moist but not soaked throughout winter. Spring will bring forth new shoots.

These can be used as cuttings and should not be cut below the soil line. You can expect them to root very quickly with the right heat, especially at bottom. For help in potting up roots, consult a gardening book and the National Chrysanthemum Society.

Hardy border Chrysanthemums can be propagated much more easily than other varieties. After they have reached their old age, you can lift them and then divide them in spring.