Chrysanthemum Bonsai

Chrysanthemum bonsai are very popular in Japan, and like azalea bonsai, they often have their own exhibits.  Although we may think of them as Japanese, the plant is originally a native of China.

These bonsai plants are not as popular in western culture, as they are in Japan. One reason may be that they are, in general, short lived plants.

Chrysanthemum bonsai exhibit, National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, Washington, DCMum Exhibit National Bonsai and Penjing Museum Washington, DC
The Chrysanthemum was first cultivated in China as a flowering herb and is described in writings as early as the 15th century B.C. In fact, their pottery depicted the chrysanthemum much as we know it today.

"As an herb, it was believed to have the power of life. Legend has it that the boiled roots were used as a headache remedy; young sprouts and petals were eaten in salads; and leaves were brewed for a festive drink ...

Quote from - The National Chrysanthemum Society

Chrysanthemum (often referred to as “mums”) are woody perennials.

Although most seem to live as few as 3-4 years as bonsai, there have been some known to be 20-25 years old.

Another reason for their lack of popularity may be, mums are photoperiod plants.  (They bloom during months with short nights.)  In order to show the flowers, the exhibits are held in the Fall.

Most other bonsai are not blooming at this time ... a good reason for Chrysanthemum only shows.

Many Styles

Mums lend themselves to being trained into many different forms, including topiary. It's a little tricky to wire them, however, it can be done.

As you can see on this page, many bonsai styles can be created from mums (especially after a little experience.)

The mum bonsai shown here was created by John Capobianco.

The roots are actually growing on a piece of wood, which makes the composition look like an old flowering tree.

Chrysanthemum styled and photographed by William Valavanis

Two Great Chrysanthemum
Bonsai Articles

When John Capobianco sent me photos and article about his mum slab planting, I knew I wanted to add Chrysanthemum bonsai to this site.  I also heard from Dale Cochoy with an equally fascinating club project.

Both articles are thorough.  If you have an interest in mum bonsai you will derive valuable information about styling, varieties and care from both of them.  (And ... enjoy even more photos.)

Chrysanthemum club project article by Dale Cochoy

Chrysanthemum slab article by John Capobianco   

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