By: Teo Spengler
Chrysanthemums are some of a gardener’s best friends, demanding only full sun, well-drained soil, and regular irrigation to thrive. Also called hardy garden mums, these popular bedding flowers are generally trouble free. If you see your chrysanthemum leaves turning yellow, you’ll have to figure out what is going wrong. Read on for information about problems with chrysanthemum plants.
If you see yellowing chrysanthemum leaves on your plants, take a look at your soil. Garden mums that are planted in heavy soil or soil that drains poorly are not happy plants. The plants need well-draining soil to thrive. If the soil doesn’t release water, the mum’s roots drown and you see your chrysanthemum plant yellowing.
Your best bet in this case is to move the plants to a site with lighter soil. Alternatively, you can improve the soil by blending in sand or peat moss to make it better able to drain off water.
Pear-shaped sucking insects, aphids, are no larger than the head of a pin, but an aphid rarely travels alone. These insects often get together in large numbers on stem tips and buds of garden mums. If you see chrysanthemum plants turning yellow, check whether these “plant lice” are present.
Fortunately, you can eliminate aphid-caused problems with chrysanthemum plants by pinching off the infested and yellow leaves on chrysanthemums and throwing them away in a plastic bag in the trash. You can also spray the bugs with an insecticidal soap product according to label directions.
Yellowing chrysanthemum leaves can also indicate a more serious problem with your chrysanthemum plants. These include fusarium wilt and chlorotic mottle.
Fusarium wilt on chrysanthemums often wilts or yellows the plant tissues, and no treatment exists that cures an infected plant. You can protect healthy plants to some extent by spraying them with a fungicide, but infected plants must be destroyed.
Similarly, there is no treatment for chlorotic mottle. All you can do is destroy any infected plants with yellow leaves. You’ll also want to disinfest any garden tools you use on the plants and be sure not to touch healthy chrysanthemums after handling infected plants.
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Read more about Chrysanthemums
Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.) are a favorite choice for home gardeners who want to add a splash of vibrant color to their late summer or early fall garden. Desirable for their wide array of colors and shapes, these plants are also hardy and will thrive even if neglected. Even so, chrysanthemums may occasionally suffer from diseases or environmental conditions that cause the leaves or flowers to turn brown.
Chrysanthemum flowers come in various forms, from simple daisy shapes to complex pompons and buttons. Many hybrids and thousands of cultivars have been developed for gardens and cut flower production. Perhaps the most important hybrid is Chrysanthemum x grandiflorum, derived originally from the species Chrysanthemum indicum, but also historically involving a number of other species, some of the earliest of which were probably never properly recorded.
Nearly 150 types of chrysanthemum have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit. Garden centres and nurseries sell many of the cultivars, including some widely available varieties and mixtures. Each of the specialist chrysanthemum nurseries also produces its own favourites. While new ones continue to be introduced to the market each year, some of the old favourites have now been around for many decades.
With such a wide variety of flower form and colour available, the National Chrysanthemum Society produced a classification system, and each registered cultivar has been allocated a classification number, which is often given after the name on specialist nursery lists. For example, Chrysanthemum ‘Joyce Frieda’ has the code number 13bY. The number 13 refers to the flowering time and classification group, 1 meaning it is mid-season flowering and 3 categorising it as an incurved bloom. The letter b defines the size of bloom, which is medium for ‘Joyce Freda’, and the second letter (Y) describes the colour, in this case yellow.
Chrysanthemum flowering time is defined as early (September), mid (October) or late (November).
The category of flower type depends on the arrangement of petals on the flower and the shape of the bloom, such as whether the petals are reflexed or incurved, and whether the blooms are single or pompon shaped. The flower size is simply divided into small, medium and large categories.
There are six principal chrysanthemum colour groups, bronze, pink, purple, red, yellow and salmon. Each of these can be further classified as standard, ‘light’ or ‘deep’. There are also other groups called ‘white’, ‘cream’ and ‘other colours’, meaning there are 21 possible colour descriptions overall.
Some of the commonest groups include:
Here are just a few of the popular varieties of chrysanthemum.
Chrysanthemum ‘Max Riley’
‘Max Riley’ is a half-hardy perennial that grows up to 1.2m in height. It has long-stemmed, bright yellow incurved petal flowers up to 11cm in diameter from September. It is well known for being a reliable flowerer in the garden. ‘Bronze Max Riley’, which is a darker yellow, is also widely available.
Chrysanthemum ‘Clapham Delight’
This cultivar has large, pure white flowers with tightly incurved petals. It has a neat form and thick, sturdy stems. It is one of the best choices for white blooms for exhibition purposes.
This very reliable outdoor chrysanthemum has bright rose-pink flowers from September onwards. The flowers have incurved petals, and they are excellent for cutting and flower arrangements. It grows up to 1.2m in height.
Chrysanthemum ‘Evesham Vale’
‘Evesham Vale’ has fully double, rich-red blooms with reflexed, wavy petals and does well in the border or allotment. The flowers are dramatic and long lasting in the vase if cut just as the buds are opening. It flowers from late September through October and November, until the first frosts of winter.
Chrysanthemum ‘Early Yellow’
‘Early Yellow’ is a long-lasting, prolific, perennial variety with daisy-like, canary-yellow, single flowers with a prominent golden centre. It is amongst the earliest chrysanthemums, with flowers from July. It is hardy in the south of the UK and should survive a normal winter outdoors and come again in the following summer. It grows up to 90cm tall.
Chrysanthemum ‘Pompon Yellow’
This cottage garden favourite is compact and half hardy, and it produces an abundance of sprays of almost spherical, fully double, 8cm, yellow pompon flowers. It is relatively easy to grow in the border or patio containers. It will continue flowering from September through to the first frosts. It will grow to a height of 75cm.
Chrysanthemum ‘Spartan Fire’
‘Spartan fire’ has fiery red, reflexed flowers with a flash of gold on the underside of the petals. They are as striking in a vase as they are in the flower border. They are hardy enough to overwinter most years, especially in the warmer parts of the country. The plant will grow up to 90cm tall.
Chrysanthemum ‘Golden Rain’
This is an unusual form of chrysanthemum, with short, incurving inner florets and very long and slender outer ones. These spidery outer florets can reach 15cm in length, and give the golden-yellow flower an elegant and dramatic look on the plant, or in a bouquet or flower arrangement. The flowers appear from November on very tall spikes up to 1.5m in height. It has the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.
Chrysanthemum ‘Mrs Jessie Cooper’
A variety of Chrysanthemum rubellum, this is another Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit winner. It is a hardy variety with long-lasting, daisy-like, dusky-red, single flowers with a very prominent yellow centre. It flowers from August to November and can reach a height of 80cm.
Chrysanthemum ‘Heather James’
‘Heather James’ is a late variety that grows up to 1.5m. It has medium-sized, reddish bronze flowers with incurved petals. It blooms through November.
For use as a perennial, plant in early spring or at least 6 weeks before a killing frost in fall. Planting chrysanthemums in spring will give them the best chance of surviving the following winter. If you are using them as an annual pop of fall color, plant them when blooming in late summer or early fall.
Mums require frequent watering due to their shallow root system, especially in high heat. A layer of mulch in summer will help conserve water and keep the soil moist and cool.
Pinch approximately 1 inch from the branch tips two to three times during the growing season to encourage branching and a sturdier plant. Early bloomers that bloom in mid-September, should be pinched no later than mid-June. October bloomers can be pinched up until mid-July, with the rule of thumb being not to pinch any closer than 3 months to bloom time.
When grown as perennials, they can be divided every two to three years in the spring. Dig up the plant when new growth begins to appear, discard the dying center and re-plant the new shoots on the outside of the plant. They can also be grown from cuttings taken in the spring. Cut just below a leaf node and root in sterile potting soil. The new plants should be watered daily and kept in a sunny windowsill until established.
Mums are not big feeders, so it is best to apply a dilute fertilizer several times before bud set. A 5-10-5 fertilizer formulation will have the greatest effect on flower production and overall growth.
Some diseases that can affect them are leaf spot, powdery mildew, and viral diseases such as mosaic or stunt. Avoid overcrowding and overly shady locations that cause moisture to remain on the leaves and provide a habitat for diseases. Pests can include aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, leafminers, plant bugs, and spider mites.
Peace lilies are loved by the indoor gardening community as they’re not only beautiful but also super easy to care for. They’re extremely forgiving, and will even let you know when they need a drink – you just need to keep a lookout for the tell-tale droop.
They are also very popular office plants as they’re not too fussy about the amount of light they get and can thrive nicely despite imperfect care. However, despite their easy-going nature, you may encounter one of the following Peace Lily problems.
The two most common causes of a Peace Lily wilting are overwatering and underwatering. It seems unusual that opposite issues can cause the same problem with your plant. This makes wilting the most dangerous problem, as the wrong treatment can be devastating for your plant.
Peace Lilies wilt quite quickly and often dramatically if they are left without water, but thankfully they usually recover without too many issues. Repeated underwatering will usually result in some brown leaf tips and edges, but otherwise, the plant will live.
Overwatering is a much more dangerous problem, as it is easy to kill a Peace Lily with too much water. Being tropical plants, Peace Lilies do enjoy moist soil – but only slightly. Prolonged soggy soil will cause root rot, and without roots, your plant will struggle to survive.
Firstly, you need to be sure which problem you are dealing with. Check the following things to see if your plant is drooping due to overwatering or underwatering.
Overwatering is one of the most serious Peace Lily problems and it needs immediate attention. This is because all that excess water actually suffocates the roots as they cannot access the required oxygen. As a result, root rot sets in, causing the plant to wilt – and in severe cases, even die.
To fix an overwatered Peace Lily, you’ll need to know how bad the problem is. Inspect the roots for signs of root rot. If there is none, then simply stop watering your plant and let the top half of the soil dry out before watering again.
Make sure your plant is positioned in bright, indirect light, with moderate temperatures and ventilation. You can follow my guide to fixing overwatered plants in this article.
If there is evidence of root rot, carefully prune the affected roots and transfer the plant to a new pot with proper drainage holes and well-draining potting mix. Read my guide to identifying, fixing, and preventing root rot for more info.
Underwatering is one of the easiest Peace Lily problems to fix. Water your Peace Lily thoroughly, allowing water to flow out of the drainage holes.
Sometimes soil that is very dry has some trouble absorbing water quickly, so you may like to set the pot in a few inches of water and let the soil slowly soak up the water.
Your Peace Lily should start to respond within hours and the otherwise healthy leaves should be back to normal in a day or two. Leaves with brown tips or edges will not fully recover, but new foliage will be healthy.
Badly damaged leaves can be pruned off, but it would be wise to wait a few weeks until the plant can cope with the stress of pruning.
Check your plant every few days, feeling the soil, checking the weight of the pot, and water once the top half of the soil feels dry. read my guide to watering houseplants for some great tips on when and how to water your plants.
Brown leaf tips are a really common problems with Peace Lilies
If you notice your Peace Lily’s lush foliage starting to turn brown, there are several common causes. Maybe it is receiving more direct light than it actually needs, causing the leaves to burn. Direct sunlight can often singe its tender leaves.
Or maybe you are a bit overzealous when it comes to feeding this delicate-looking beauty. Lack of proper humidity or underwatering might also cause its leaves to turn brown around the edges.
Sometimes, you might notice the leaf tips of the plant turning brown even when watered on schedule. This may be due to the presence of chemicals like fluoride or chlorine in your tap water.
Peace Lilies grow on the floor of tropical rainforests where they get a lot of dappled light. So when you think of a location to place them in your home, choose one that gets a lot of medium to bright, but indirect light. Long exposure to direct sunlight will burn the leaves.
Also, Peace Lilies absolutely love humidity. So if dry air is causing its leaf tips to turn brown, increase humidity levels and make sure it is not placed close to any air vents or heaters.
Grouping your plants, using a humidity tray, or using a humidifier are good ways to improve humidity around your plants.
As for over-fertilizing, please remember that more plants get sick due to over-fertilizing than under-fertilizing. The best way to restore the health of an over-fertilized Peace Lily is to flush the soil with clean water to wash away as much fertilizer as possible.
Peace Lilies should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer at one-half or one-quarter of the recommended strength on a monthly basis – but only during spring and summer season. If you’d like to learn more about fertilizing houseplants, you can read this article to get up to speed.
Lastly, water quality can sometimes cause Peace Lily problems including brown tips. Chlorine and fluoride in the water are the most common culprits.
Filtering, or leaving the watering in sunlight for 24 hours can remove most chlorine, but won’t remove fluoride. read my guide to water quality for houseplants to see if you’d be better switching to rainwater or distilled water for your plants.
The most common reason for your Peace Lily’s striking green leaves to turn yellow is overwatering. Sometimes, factors like a sudden change in temperature or location might also stress the plant, causing its leaves to turn yellow.
Peace Lilies hate the cold, so when exposed to cold drafts or temperatures under 40°F (4°C), you might witness some leaf curling or yellowing.
If you’re overwatering your plant, stop immediately and follow the advice earlier in this article.
Your Peace Lily will flourish in temperatures of 65-80°F (18-27°C), which is what makes it such a great indoor plant. Take care not to place it in an area that is too cold or too hot.
Also, it is advisable to move it away from non-insulated windows or doors during the winter months to protect it from cold drafts. Never place it in front of air conditioner vents or heaters.
When compared to most other houseplants, pests do not cause too many Peace Lily problems. Having said that, a weakened or stressed Peace Lily can get pests like spider mites, aphids, or mealybugs. Sometimes, these pests can also be brought in by a new houseplant.
A good way to ensure your Peace Lily stays free of all of the above-mentioned pests is to adopt a habit of regularly wiping its large leaves and inspecting it for any bugs.
Some mild infestations can be managed by regularly spraying your plant with water to get the insects to fall off. If they still pose a problem, there are many other treatment options. I cover how to identify, treat, and prevent common houseplants pests in this article.
It is important to give proper care to the plant that has been affected by pests. Peace Lilies are very resilient plants and usually bounce back quickly.
If you suspect that the pests were brought in by some new houseplant, immediately isolate the affected plant.
Also, remember an unspoken rule in indoor gardening is to always quarantine new houseplants so that they do not pass on any pests or diseases that they might come with to your other healthy plants.
Peace Lilies rarely bloom in low-light conditions. I know that this plant is also referred to as the ‘closet plant’ because it is very tolerant of low-light conditions and could probably survive in a closet.
However, the truth is that their blooms will become more and more sparse in low light, and then it will simply stop blooming.
As long as the other care requirements are being met, the foliage will be relatively unaffected by lower light, but there is not sufficient energy to allow the plant to bloom.
Very occasionally, underfertilizing can also be the cause of your Peace Lily not blooming. However, this will only happen to a plant that has not been fertilized or repotted for many years.
To get these plants to bloom, you must give them medium to bright indirect sunlight. This level of lighting is often more than you think, so check out my article on lighting for houseplants to make sure you are giving your Peace Lily what it needs.
And if you haven’t fertilized your Peace Lily in a long, long time, one application of fertilizer is often enough to make the plant wake up and begin the process of producing those characteristic spathes.
Ray Blight: Caused by Ascochyta chrysanthemi (Mycosphaerella ligulicola), this disease affects the ray florets and may extend into floral stalks. Symptoms include a brown rot of ray florets the can extend into the receptacle. Flowers may be deformed and one-sided. Bud blast can occur in severe cases. Lower leaves and stems can also be affected. Leaf lesions are brown to black and can vary in shape and size. Leaves and stems may rot, and foliage may distort or die on one side of stem. Brown stem lesions may be seen near leaf nodes and are slightly sunken.
A. chrysanthemi persists in plant debris and spores are spread by wind and water. The disease is favored by overhead irrigation or rain. Start with pathogen-free cuttings. Avoid wetting foliage and flowers and keep humidity low. Good sanitation is essential. Protect foliage with chlorothalonil, myclobutanil, mancozeb, or iprodione.
Petal Blight (Itersonilia perplexans): This fungus also infects flowers of China aster (Callistephus) and some weeds in the Asteraceae. Small reddish-brown specks form on petals. On older flowers, the specks enlarge until the entire blossom is affected. Petal blight is most severe when temperatures are in the 60s.
Rogue and dispose of severrely infected plants. Individual flowers may also be removed. Provide good air circulation and don't overcrowd plants. Avoid overhead irrigation and keep flowers dry. Control weeds, especially those in the Asteraceae. Protect plants with propiconazole, myclobutanil, or potassium bicarbonate.