Is Baking Soda The Secret To Thriving Chrysanthemums?

Baking soda has long been regarded as a cure-all folk remedy. Possibly one of the most versatile household staples, it has seemingly endless uses for cleaning, personal health, baking, and more. Is baking soda the secret to increasing chrysanthemum blooms? The answer's complicated. There is no scientific evidence to support baking soda's effect on chrysanthemums, and most of the claims are anecdotal. However, we do know that baking soda is alkaline, so it has the ability to alter the pH of acidic soil. Chrysanthemums thrive in alkaline, sandy soils, which means that adding baking soda to your soil could have some potential benefits.

However, before you go crazy sprinkling baking soda all over your chrysanthemums, there are a few things to consider. Baking soda is made up of pure sodium bicarbonate, and too much sodium built up in the soil can cause serious damage to your plants. It is crucial to proceed with caution. While some garden plants benefit from a bit of baking soda, there are important elements to consider beforehand

What are chrysanthemums?

Chrysanthemums, lovingly known as the "queen of fall flowers," have long been a fall staple in the U.S. Originally native to Eastern Asia and Europe, chrysanthemums were bred and widely distributed during the 1700s in Europe, making their way to the U.S. through European colonization. Their name comes from the ancient Greek words for golden and flower and has since been shortened colloquially to "mums." A member of the Aster and daisy family, mums have beautiful bursts of compact, typically yellow flowers that have since been bred to have a wide array of colors and sizes.

They can grow 2 to 4 feet and have a bulbous growth pattern that usually creates a dome-like shape of flowers. In China and Japan, chrysanthemums are often cultivated as a culinary and medicinal herb and are grown for a lovely tea made from the blossoms. They grow best in full sun and loamy, sandy soils with good drainage. They make excellent border plantings and potted plants and add a lovely pop of color to any garden or front porch. In addition to their inherent beauty in the garden, chrysanthemums may be the answer to deterring mice from your yard.

Can baking soda help chrysanthemums thrive?

There is no scientific evidence to back up claims that baking soda is beneficial for chrysanthemums. However, if your soil is particularly acidic, adding some baking soda may help your chrysanthemums by alkalizing the soil. Baking soda helps raise pH levels, creating a more hospitable environment for your chrysanthemums to thrive. However, applying too much baking soda to the soil can cause sodium buildup, which will end up hindering your plant's growth. While sodium bicarbonate is an essential micronutrient present in most soils, in excess, it can damage roots and inhibit flowering. 

By using a DIY soil test to check the health and pH of your soil, you can better determine whether it needs more acidity or alkalinity. Without a soil test, there's no real way to know if the soil your chrysanthemums are growing in could benefit from a pH adjustment. Regardless, proceed with caution when considering using baking soda around your chrysanthemums, and be conservative with application.