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Credit: Sindre Strom

STUCK INSIDE

During these frosty, Winnipeg months, people develop a renewed acquaintance with the inside of their homes. This is simply because going outside isn’t always a safe option. At this time of year, my favourite outdoor gardening activities are unfortunately non-existent.

CABIN FEVER, ANYONE?

When we’re stuck inside, my focus begins to wander to the inside of our home. I start to really SEE it. Every nook and cranny. Old watermarks on the ceiling that I didn’t notice before. Tape still on the walls in the library from Darren’s old posters. Dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds in dark corners of the basement. A million indoor project ideas crowd onto my mental to-do list like a New York subway at rush hour.

But what to do first?

MY GO-TO REMEDY

Naturally, my first choice is to continue gardening indoors. Dreams of having big, gorgeous pots of rust, red and yellow chrysanthemums framing our exterior doorways next autumn.

When I first moved up here, autumn was right around the corner. Darren surprised me with a little chrysanthemum plant and a cute, ceramic pumpkin as autumn is my favourite season. I was absolutely tickled!

DID YOU KNOW…

I have always been partial to mums as they are the flower of my birth month. More historically interesting is that the chrysanthemum was first cultivated in China as a flowering herb. It was described in writings as early as the 15th Century B.C. The ancient Chinese word for chrysanthemum is “Chu.” The city of Chu-Hsien (which means Chrysanthemum City) was named in honor of this alluring flower.

Learn about the history of chrysanthemums

Credit: Valeriia Miller

The chrysanthemum was first introduced to the west in 1753 when Karl Linnaeus, renowned Swedish botanist, combined the Greek words chrysos, meaning gold with anthemon, meaning flower. Before the advent of modern medicine, this plant was believed to have the power of life. The boiled roots were used as a headache remedy. Salads were made with the young sprouts and petals. The leaves were brewed for a festive drink. You can read more about the history of the mum here.

PROPAGATION

I was determined not to let this pretty, little plant die at the end of the season. In So Cal, I had thought that mums were annuals, to be replaced with new plants every year. Not always being a big fan of ‘rules’ when it comes to certain things, I decided to try something different. I clipped the three main arms of my little plant off. Stuck them in a small vase with fresh water. Then found a nice, warm, well-lit spot for them to wait out the winter in. I was attempting to get these little pieces to root.

Sure enough, they did! So, I planted them in a 5″ pot with some nice, basic potting soil. With a little TLC, they made it through the winter.  As the weather began to warm up, my little pieces of autumn began to flourish and grow. By the end of spring, they had gotten so big, I had to transplant the whole thing into a larger pot! That summer saw my mum sprouts grow into a rather large bush. I was amazed that this big ol’ thing of beauty grew from just three little clippings.

PLANTING IT FORWARD

At the beginning of the following winter, I clipped quite a few sprigs from the larger mum plant. Then set them to root in fresh water, just as I did that first time. This year, being stuck inside didn’t seem so bad. 

The new pieces rooted and took up residence in some clean, new potting soil tucked in a pot in a warm corner of our living room. As for the original, it multiplied into 3 large plants! These relax in winter with a miniature rose-bush and some African violets (also propagated) under a fluorescent lamp on the potting bench. Just waiting for the first signs of spring.

I’m willing to wait right along with them. These plants are just stunning come summertime and again in autumn when these beautiful blooms are in their full glory.

Pots filled with chrysanthemum cuttings for propagation

Credit: Jen Olenick

Now, where did I see those dust bunnies?

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

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