Chrysanthemum Dying? (How to Revive Dying Mums)


Why is my Chrysanthemum dying?

Are your chrysanthemums dying, and you wondering if they can be saved? Fear not! I have compiled a list of the most common reasons for dying chrysanthemums and the best strategies for reviving them!

The reason for dying Chrysanthemums is most often due to dry soil, cold temperatures, or fungal disease. To avoid drooping Chrysanthemums, ensure that the soil is consistently moist and protect them from midday sun.

It is worth noting that even ‘hardy’ varieties die in temperatures lower than 23°F (-5 °C) in Winter.

To revive your dying Chrysanthemum, it is important to create the optimal conditions of its natural environment by ensuring that the soil is consistently moist, protecting it from intense sunshine and high temperatures, and sheltering it from excess wind.

Symptoms of Dying Chrysanthemums:Reason for Dying Chrysanthemums:
Drooping Leaves:By far the most common reason is dry soil. Chrysanthemums can droop even if the soil is only dry for a very short period. Transplant shock or sudden changes to their environment also cause drooping leaves.
Chrysanthemums Dying in Pots:Dry soil as pots dry out too quickly. Low humidity indoors can cause drooping/ brown leaves.
Leaves Turning Brown:Overwatering, fungal diseases, and cold weather all cause brown leaves. Leaves also turn brown and die back every Winter naturally before re-sprouting in Spring.
Leaves Turning Yellow:Overwatering, low fertility soil, and extreme heat and sunshine.
Flowers Turning Brown, Wilting and Dying:Flowers wilt and die quickly in temperatures higher than 75°F (24°C) for sustained periods.

Keep reading for how to solve these problems and revive your chrysanthemums so that they are healthy and bloom well the following year…

Chrysanthemum Drooping and Dying?

Chrysanthemums are the thirstiest plants in my garden and need the soil to be consistently moist, especially during the Spring and Summer. If the soil dries out completely, then a Chrysanthemum can droop and deteriorate quickly, even if the soil is only dry for a short period.

In my experience, dry soil is by far the most common reason for a Chrysanthemums drooping and dying as they are the most unforgiving houseplants/ garden plants when it comes to drought stress.

Another common reason for drooping Chrysanthemums that I see very often is because of a sudden contrast in conditions due to repotting or if they have been transported from a garden center to your house or garden.

Chrysanthemums are relatively sensitive plants when it comes to being moved and tend to protest by drooping their leaves and flowers.

The truth is that Chrysanthemums are often cultivated in specific conditions in a nursery with carefully controlled temperatures, humidity, sunlight, and watering. So when we take our chrysanthemums home, they have left their optimal conditions when cultivated in a commercial greenhouse and now have to adjust quickly to the conditions in our homes and gardens.

It is this contrast in conditions that can be the cause for a drooping Chrysanthemum.

Why Are My Chrysanthemums Drooping and Dying in Pots?

From experience, drought stress can be especially problematic for Chrysanthemums grown in pots as pots can heat up quickly in the sun and dry out.

Pots also obviously have a limited capacity for soil and, therefore, hold less moisture.

If the potting soil does dry out completely, then it can often become hydrophobic (if it contains peat moss), which is where water is repelled off the surface of the soil and runs off down the side rather than infiltrate the soil and reaches the roots causing the leaves to droop.

Chrysanthemums also prefer sunny locations, with areas of morning sun followed by afternoon shade being particularly favorable.

Indoor potted Chrysanthemum leaves and flowers can turn brown due to lower humidity, in which case you need to locate your Chrysanthemum out of the direct path of drying air currents such as air conditioning or forced air and mist the leaves regularly.

If you cannot mist the leaves, then I recommend locating your chrysanthemums in a naturally humid room (such as the bathroom) or using a special indoor plant humidifier, which I find keeps my indoor chrysanthemums healthy.

It is also worth noting that outdoor potted chrysanthemums are particularly vulnerable to the cold as their roots are more exposed than those planted in the ground. Therefore sudden cold snaps can bring about their demise.

How to Save it…

To save a Chrysanthemum that is drooping and dying, it is important to address the cause of the environmental stress and create the optimal conditions for growth.

  • Locate your potted Chrysanthemums in ideally 6 hours of morning sun followed by shade in the afternoon. This provides a balance so that the Chrysanthemum can take advantage of the sunlight whilst the temperature is somewhat cooler. I find that the Afternoon sun is too hot and can heat up pots and dry out the soil before the roots can draw up moisture.
  • If the Chrysanthemum is in a pot, place your pot in a basin of water, ensuring that the rootball is submerged for around 10 minutes or so. I have found this is a very effective strategy as this allows the soil to properly absorb moisture to alleviate the drought stress that resulted in the drooping leaves. You should find that the pot should feel much heavier as the soil should be evenly moist.
  • Always give Chrysanthemum a generous soak when watering, ensuring that excess water trickles from the base of the pot. The goal with water should be that the soil is evenly moist. If your Chrysanthemum is potted, then pick up the pot after watering it to assess its weight. It should feel reassuringly heavy after watering as the soil is holding moisture. You can then use this weight as a benchmark to judge when your soil is drying out and, therefore, when you should water your chrysanthemum again.
  • It may be necessary to water Chrysanthemums every 2 or 3 days if they are in pots and the weather is hot. When I lived in Southern California, I spoke to professional chrysanthemum growers, who have to water their chrysanthemums every day on the hottest days of the year; such is the Chrysanthemum’s demand for moisture.
  • If your Chrysanthemum is planted in the ground, then I recommend either using a large water can or even a hose to soak the ground and apply a 1-inch layer of compost mulch around the base of the Chrysanthemum. The mulch helps to lock moisture in the ground and prevents the underlying soil from heating up too much and drying out.
  • Chrysanthemums need to be warm and sheltered and do not like excess wind. If indoors, be mindful of air currents such as air conditioning or convection currents from indoor heating (This is why I like to grow mine in my bathroom). Outdoor Chrysanthemums should not be planted in open, windy areas, so either transplant the Chrysanthemum or, as I prefer to do, provide a windbreak with another large shrub (a hydrangea in my case!).

Provide the Chrysanthemum with the right conditions of morning sun, consistently moist compost with warm temperatures in a sheltered area, and the chrysanthemum should be able to adjust to the new conditions. Typically I find it takes 2 good cycles of watering for my chrysanthemums to recover from a drooping appearance.

Why are My Chrysanthemum Leaves and Flowers Turning Brown?

Most often, the reason I see Chrysanthemum leaves and flowers turning brown is if they are planted in water-logged soil or if they are exposed to cold temperatures. Chrysanthemums turn brown and die back every Winter before coming back and re-sprouting in the Spring.

Chrysanthemums can be broadly separated into varieties that are tender and those that are fully hardy.

Tender Chrysanthemums do not tolerate frost. If your chrysanthemum is a tender variety, then the frost causes the leaves to turn brown and completely die back but it is the plant is unlikely to regrow in the Spring (whereas the hardy varieties should come back every year).

However, it should be noted that even ‘hardy’ Chrysanthemums can die in Winter, particularly if the temperature is as low as 23°F (-5 °C).

(There are countless varieties of chrysanthemum, so to establish whether your plant is hardy or not, I advise you to find the name of your variety and google it or ask a reputable garden center for advice! But generally speaking, any chrysanthemum that is sold as ‘indoor’ is not cold hardy, and any sold as ‘outdoor’ should be hardy).

Therefore Chrysanthemums should only be grown in pots and then placed outside in the Spring and Summer in climates with cold Winter.

Ideally, store Chrysanthemums in a cool, frost-free greenhouse over Winter as I have found that bringing them indoors in Winter can be too stressful due to the contrast between outdoor temperatures and room temperatures, particularly if the heating is on indoors during the Winter.

Return them to the outdoors when the threat of frost has passed and the temperature at night is consistently above 40°F (5°C).

If you have a hardy variety, then the foliage should die back in Winter, even if the temperatures are mild. This is not a cause for concern and is part of the Chrysanthemum life cycle. Cut the Chrysanthemum to a few inches above the ground with a sharp pair of pruners and put the leaves on your compost heap!

It is a good idea to use a layer of mulch (compost, wood chip, etc.) around the base of the Chrysanthemums to insulate the roots and use a cloche over the top to protect it from excessive Winter rain, which can cause the soil to be too boggy for the Chrysanthemums to tolerate.

Useful tip: I have found that covering my chrysandthemums with a layer of wood bark (after cutting the foliage back) has helped my chysanthemums survive even the harshiest Winter with snow on the ground.

It is worth noting that another common reason for Chrysanthemums dying is because of overwatering, slow draining soil, or pots without drainage holes in the base.

Whilst Chrysanthemums need the soil to be moist, they do not tolerate boggy, saturated soil, which causes the roots to rot, turning the leaves brown and ultimately killing the plant.

If you have clay soil that drains slowly or a low-lying boggy garden, then the best solution I have is to grow Chrysanthemums in pots, as pots have much more favorable drainage.

Boggy soil promotes the conditions for fungal diseases (such as rust) to proliferate.

It is also imperative to water Chrysanthemums at the base of the plant as high humidity and leaf wetness promote the conditions for Bacterial Stem Canker (Pseudomonas cichorii) which turns both the stems and leaves black with a dying appearance, to which there is no cure. It is important to remove and discard the plants (in a bin or on a bonfire) to prevent the fungus from spreading.

The prevention of bacterial stem canker is simply a matter of watering at the roots and (if you live in a climate of humidity) planting the Chrysanthemums in a more open area and a good distance from other plants to allow airflow to circulate around the eaves rather then overcrowding them with other foliage.

(Here is a full list of fungal diseases that can affect chrysanthemums).

Why Are My Chrysanthemums Turning Yellow?

In my experience, Chrysanthemum most often turns yellow because of a combination of intense sunlight and heat.

However, I have also seen leaves turn yellow due to a nutrient deficiency.

It is best practice to fertilize Chrysanthemums every year in the Spring as the flowering process can place a huge demand for nutrients.

Potted Chrysanthemums only have limited access to nutrients, so I always advise using a general all-purpose liquid feed in May or June once every 2 weeks. It can prevent the leaves from turning yellow and ensure the Chrysanthemum has all the resources it requires for a good display of flowers.

If the Chrysanthemum has been scorched by sunlight and heat at the height of Summer, then provide the plant with some afternoon shade. The scorched leaves can’t turn from yellow to green again, so this year’s display of both flowers and foliage is likely to be compromised.

However, as Chrysanthemums are perennial, they die back in Winter and green foliage should emerge the following Spring.

Overwatering and poor drainage is another potential cause of yellowing leaves.

If the soil drains just slightly too slowly, then the excess water in the soil can exclude oxygen from the soil, interfering with the plant’s ability to respire and causing the leaves to turn yellow.

In this case, it is essential to either water slightly less often (making sure that the soil is moist and not boggy) or ideally improve the drainage by transplanting the Chrysanthemum in a pot with drainage holes in the base and with well-draining potting soil.

Once the roots are able to respire, the chrysanthemum should recover. However, in my experience, the recovery may be somewhat limited, and you may have to wait until the following Spring for the Chrysanthemum to look its best.

Why Are My Chrysanthemum Blooms Dying?

The Chrysanthemum’s blooms can open and then fade, wilt, and die quickly due to high temperatures. If temperatures are higher than 75°F for a long period, the blooms quickly die.

To prevent this from happening, I recommend planting Chrysanthemums in the morning sun followed by afternoon shade.

Chrysanthemums need sun in order to stimulate blooming, but blazing sunshine in the afternoon when the temperatures are highest is going to be too hot for the Chrysanthemum to sustain its blooms.

Unfortunately, Chrysanthemums only bloom once per year, so if the bloom coincides with a heat wave, then it may bring about the demise of the blooms early in the season. (This has happened to me and many other gardeners before!)

If your Chrysanthemums are indoors, then consider carefully where you locate the plants, keeping them out of the way of indoor heating and ideally not placing them on a window sill that gets particularly hot.

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason for chrysanthemums drooping and dying is because the soil is dry. Chrysanthemums need consistently moist soil. If the soil dries out, even for a short time, the leaves and flowers wilt and can even turn brown.
  • A dying potted chrysanthemum is most often caused by drought stress due to the pot drying out too quickly or because of a lack of nutrients. Chrysanthemums are relatively heavy feeders and can turn yellow if their roots do not have access to sufficient nutrients in the potting soil.
  • A Chrysanthemum’s leaves turn brown due to fungal disease, overwatering, and cold temperatures.
  • Chrysanthemum flowers wilt and die quickly when the temperature exceeds 75°F (24°C).
  • To revive dying chrysanthemums, create their optimal conditions for growth with morning sun followed by afternoon shade, ensure the soil is consistently moist with frequent watering, and protect the plant from temperatures lower than 23°F (-5 °C).

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