Dendranthema ‘Cambodian Queen’

Nipped in the bud. Autumn was just beginning to rev up its motors when it was shut down. I mean, totally over. October wasn’t even out the door and my proud dendranthema moment along the road was packed under snow and then pummeled by plow trucks. The good news is that it wasn’t smashed under tree limbs because the spruce survived unscathed. But the dendranthema flowers were freeze-dried into an unidentifiable scramble when the melt finally happened a week later. Ah well.

Of course, when I say dendranthema, I really mean hardy mum. Nothing fancier. They will survive. Same time next year, they’ll do their thing. Still, I was rather proud of their glory…

I can be seriously “bah humbug-ish” about mums. I skip the non-hardy tight little bun-types entirely. But I’m fond of the rock solid hardy ‘Sheffield’ types that originated in my neighborhood. It’s a good example of growing local. So many people in the area claim credit for the champagne-colored ‘Sheffield’ variety that I’m not going to weigh in on its origins here. Suffice to say that it has regional roots. And even before I heard the local lore, I was a major fan of ‘Sheffield’.

Then ‘Cambodian Queen’ came along and it proved even more vigorous. The tissue pink color is a little more cutesy than ‘Sheffield’s sophisticated champagne, but they both stand exactly the same height and work nicely in tandem. In fact, ‘Cambodian Queen’s flower count can give ‘Sheffield’ a run for its money. And it grows like green lightning. In my hell-strip by the road, not only does it soldier on, but it’s muscling out ‘Sheffield’. I’m sure that ‘Sheffield’ will hold its own. They’re both athletes.

The other dendranthemas I’ve grown tend to be comparatively shaggy and gangly. ‘Clara Curtis’ talked a good game. But I pulled out of her fan club after she fizzled out following a sparse display of only a few floppy, leggy flowers. I haven’t tried ‘Samba’, ‘Venus’, or ‘Rhumba’ – does anyone want to weigh in on those? I was worried that they might bear an uneasy resemblance to the mounded mums I detest. The reason why I opt for dendranthemas rather than mums has to do with loose and airy — as well as hardiness.

Newbie Alert! There’s an array of “Global Warming Mums” in the offing that I can’t wait to try. Of course, they’re really dendranthemas. ‘Autumn Moon’, ‘Glowing Embers’, and ‘Purple Mist’ threaten to extend the growing season even longer than the ‘Sheffield’ types. Hard to imagine…

By the way, this post comes to you following a week of no power. Yep. My house was 42 degrees (we’re talking Fahrenheit). Plus I had two weeks of no internet connections. The October snowstorm dumped a foot of leaden snow on our still-foliated trees. I lost the apple that was on the 1790 deed to my property. And I lost a huge catalpa. Other than that, it was just a mess of strewn limbs and split trees. I was lucky — nothing fell on my house and I’m now safe, warm, and blogging again. How’d you all weather the storm?

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14 Responses to Dendranthema ‘Cambodian Queen’

  1. BTW, the last time I checked (though who can keep up with all the name changes?) the taxonomists had changed their minds again and Mums now officially Chrysanthemum again, not Dendranthema. Also, if you want AMAZING fully hardy (zone 4) mums, you’ve got to check out the offerings from Faribault Growers:
    I’m so in love with ‘Peach Centerpiece’ it is almost embarrassing.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Hey Joseph, What a relief! Don’t you hate it when they keep flipflopping on names? I’ll check that one out asap = I’m on the way to a lecture in Maryland. But most especially = thank you for the heads up on ‘Peach Centerpiece’ so tell me, have you grown this lovely in your garden? I see that they’re saying it needs protection for hardiness…

  2. This is my first year with them (Some pictures of them in my garden here:, so this will be my first winter, but in friend’s gardens they’ve been fine with no extra protection here in zone 5. They were bred at University of Minnesota, which is zone 4 and makes my Michigan garden look balmy by comparison.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Went to your blog and wowzers! They really do look like the old fashioned 19th century tender mums. Or dahlias. I’m with you on the ‘Peach Centerpiece’ – it’s primo. And when I saw that they came from MN, I figured out why they were giving hardiness warnings. It seems almost too good to be true…Thanks for telling me about these, Joseph, I would have missed them. And congratulations! Sounds like we’ll be seeing a book from you soon. When can we expect the new birth?

  3. We have so many of these Sheffield-type mums here – Pumpkin Harvest which is kind of a wimp, one that looks like your Cambodian called Ryan’s Pink, a blue-pink (with a white halo) rather than the apricot pink shade of Sheffield/Hillside Pink, Citrine – a nice yellow – they all bloom here around mid-October. In my area, we have a longer fall season, the seed ripens and because they interbreed readily – I have a lovely deep magenta version and a double white daisy type. Lots of fun!

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Interesting, Donna — Sounds like we might start getting chance seedlings if global warming keeps moving our way. I see that you’re in Virginia — which is Zone What? Have you ever heard of the Amherst College project? If memory serves, the college students have been breeding tender mums as part of their botany curriculum for the last century or so. But I don’t think any of them have made it into the trade.

      • Sorry – have not heard of the project. Am in the point top of Virginia at about 1000′ but now seems like Zone 7+ – used to be 6. Since I grew up in Connecticut and lived in Boston for many years, I appreciate the shorter winter, long, mild fall, and early warm-up in spring. Also gives us late and damaging frosts in spring. But we have loads of these mums – no pinching necessary and very cheery. I also do the fall garden clean up in the spring…that helps let the seed get going too I think. They are all still blooming well.

        • Tovah Martin says:

          Glad to hear that there are benefits to delaying fall cleanup, because it’s a race to the finish to get it done this year. First priority is to get the bulbs all in. Cutting back the mums is last on the agenda. And I’m tempted to follow your lead, if it might bring a magenta seedling…Interesting that you’re plagued by late frosts also. Thought that was only a Northern dilemma.

  4. Welcome back ( forgot to say that before). I grow several sheffield type mums, but they are all from garden club plant sales so proper ID-ing is tough. One I have called copper penny is lovely and just oozes fall color. This year may absolute favorite new one was ‘centerpiece’, from Faribault, the pink not the peach one. It bloomed so well and grew to such a sizable clump in one season that I am smitten. I hope it overwinters( link to photo )
    Matchstick was another keeper..very cool looking .
    Funny to hear you use the words freeze dried because those are exactly the ones I am using to describe what happened here. Ice came first with heavy wet snow as a chaser. We suffered extensive damage to trees and many shrubs and lost lots of fall color too. A real bummer.Every year a new challenge or two keeps it fresh and exciting around here, and I say that in the most sarcastic of ways 😉

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Love the spoon-shaped petals, Cheryl. I’ll have to hunt these up next year — I haven’t seen them available yet. (I get around, but sometimes I’m just not in the right place at the right time.) Speaking of matchsticks, that’s the word I’ve been using to describe what happened to my catalpa. Oy. Just wondering = did you lose any shrubs that had already dropped their leaves for the year? I had a Viburnum sargentii ‘Onondaga’ split into splinters. I began to wonder if shrubs might normally go into a hardening off period in autumn that prepares them for snow load…??? Thoughts?

  5. I have been noticing a pattern in my yard…I have a swath that runs down the middle of the gardens that gets hit first and hard by early frosts, the deliniation is so clear someone may have just as well drawn a line. In that same area we had the most damage from the ice storm and from these last two storms as well. I have replaced many of the original plantings there with super tough and hardy souls who can take whatever Mother Nature dihses out, and only have left to pull out a hydrangea I intend to replace with a new pg cultivar. I wonder if the cold pocket makes everything more brittle, and also wonder like yourself if the defoliated shrubs just weren’t winter ready . Personally I know that I do my part to get ready for winter with a little extra chocolate to bulk up some extra insulation…maybe they follow suit?…lets ask Mr. Science (Joe T.from green sparrow ..maybe he can weigh in)

    • Tovah Martin says:

      Good idea, let’s ask Joe the Scientist, I’ll nudge him. That’s very astute of you to heed the cold bands in your yard. Usually comes into play in the spring with late frosts, doesn’t it? Got a poor weeping styrax that has been zapped for several late frosts. But by the time I put in the magnolias, I had the land pretty much scoped out and got late blooming varieties for the cold pockets. Amazingly, the magnolias fared okay except a few mangled branches.

  6. Cheryl,
    Plants do indeed get ready for winter, in some ways similar to the way you do with your chocolate! The biggest way plants are damaged by cold is when the water in them freezes, because the freezing water expands and rips the cells open (that’s why when your annuals get hit by frost they collapse into mush — their cells have been shredded.) To get ready for deep freezes, plants move some of the extra water out of their cells, and pump in various natural antifreezes, including sugars. However, I don’t think any of those cellular changes would make the plants more brittle in an ice storm. Though honestly, I don’t know if anyone has ever studied that question directly. It may be possible, but my guess is the ice damage is just coincidence.

    • Tovah Martin says:

      There you go, Cheryl, the shrubs load up on antifreeze and then get cellulite = you heard it from the Green Scientist himself. No wonder no one has ever studied this. Since when have we been buried beneath a foot of snow in October? And I’m going to hope that it will never happen again. As for my viburnum, clearly the message form On High was that they needed a (drastic) pruning. Thank you, Joseph. Now we can resume the usual antifreeze sequence…

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