I’ve been thinking of growing Edible Chrysanthemum for years but have never gotten around to it until this year. Either it was too early or too late in the growing season to sow the seeds, or I ran out of space. This spring was too cold to grow a lot of leafy vegetables so I decided to sow chrysanthemum since it loves cool weather. One package was a couple of years old (the oval leaf) but has sprouted anyway albeit a bit slowly. The freshly purchased this year (serrated-leaf) sprouted up really fast though.
Edible Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium) aka Tang Ho (Chinese), Shungiku (Japanese), Tang Oh (Thai), Kelsang (Tibetan) is an edible green that can be eaten raw or cooked. It tastes similar to spinach but has a stronger flavor. The most common uses are in soup, stir-fry and in salad. I don’t really know how many varieties there are in total but I grow two different kinds; the smooth oval leaf and the serrated-leaf. The taste is not much different between them.
It can be direct sown in the ground once the frost has passed. I sow them in rows like spinach and thin them when they get around 1.5 inches tall and use them in salads. The whole plant can be pulled out or just cut above the leaf node and it will grow back between the leaves. When the temperature gets too hot, I cover them with a net to filter out some of the sunlight to prolong their life span. As much as they don’t like hot weather, covering them with a net really helps. I also let some of them flower for the bees and to provide seeds for next year.
I no longer have to go to Chinatown to get an expensive, wilted bunch when I have a craving for them. But I will have to pull them out once their flowers have matured and sow another set for a fall harvest.
Edible chrysanthemum are as easy to grow as other greens and their flowers are pretty too.