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SEED COUNT:Approx 70 seeds per pack
DAYS TO MATURITY:35-80 days
DAYS TO GERMINATION:10-18 days at 60F
SOIL REQUIREMENTS:Moist, fertile soil
LIGHT PREFERENCE:Full sun
STATUS:Heirloom, Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO seeds
The cheerfully brilliant orange-yellow flowers floating above clouds of deep green foliage look like simple garden flowers but conceal an ancient, noble secret. Considered so exceptional in ancient China that only nobility had permission to plant them, they were an essential part of the Taoist immortality elixir and known as “edible cold medicine” in Chinese medicine.
Also known as shungiko - literally “Spring Chrysanthemum” - both the flowers and leaves are edible, especially the tender shoots and young leaves. Other names include chrysanthemum greens, garland chrysanthemum, chop suey greens, crown daisy, kikuna, and mirabeles among others. The leaves are tender and slightly crunchy with mild, grassy, and sweet notes. The herbaceous flavor is similar to young mustard greens or spinach.
Expensive to buy, these crunchy greens are easy to grow!
Edible Chrysanthemum is very easy to grow and prefers cooler weather, making it a great two-season crop in early spring and again in fall for most American gardens. In more temperate areas with a mild winter, it will happily grow during the cooler fall, winter, and early spring seasons.
Deep green serrated foliage supports abundant stalks of brilliant orange-yellow flowers, growing up to 4’ tall. Often grown as an ornamental, it attracts loads of pollinators to its bright flowers and has a pleasing herbaceous scent.
Chrysanthemums were grown as a flowering herb in 15th Century BC China, seen as an honored plant with exceptional qualities. Only noble families were allowed to plant them in their gardens. The chrysanthemum was introduced to Japan in the 8th Century, where it quickly became the symbol of the Emporer of Japan, gracing the royal seal. The people honored the emperors by covering their seats with its flowers, giving rise to the name Chrysanthemum throne. The highest knighthood is bestowed by the emperor and is called the “Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum”.
Native to East Asia and was spread by trade into Europe in the late 17th Century, traveling from France to England and reaching the United States in 1798. The scientific name combines the Greek “chrys” meaning gold colored, indicating the original color of the flowers with “anchemon” meaning flower, thus gold-colored flower.
The leaves are long, thin, and flat, growing in an alternating pattern divided into leaflets with serrated edges, 2-4” long. Young leaves are tender and slightly crunchy with older leaves having a more noticeable bitter bite. The flavor pairs well with tahini, mirin, sesame, soy sauce, dashi, lemon, garlic, nuts, rice vinegar, and other leafy greens.
Chrysanthemum leaves are used widely in Korean, Chinese and Japanese dishes, often used to flavor soups, stews, hot pots, and stir-fries. Its special aromatic flavor is used like an herb. Best eaten raw or lightly cooked to keep the texture and nutrients intact.
The flower buds and mature flowers are picked, dried and used to make a beneficial herbal tea that is a beautiful yellow color with a distinctive aromatic flavor.
Direct sow as soon as the frost has passed, or start transplants inside a month before last frost date. Seeds usually germinate in 10-18 days in 60°F soil. You can begin harvesting shoots and leaves about 5 to 6 weeks after sowing, once the plants are at least 4-6" tall. Harvest young leaves by pinching the plant back by half, making sure to leave at least four leaves to re-grow. New shoots will grow from the base of each leaf at the stem, and these shoots can be harvested when they reach 4-6" long. This creates a very stocky, leafy plant that will keep you in greens through most winters, even down to freezing temperatures.
Succession planting every 3-4 weeks ensures regular supply of leaves and flowers for the entire season.