by Matt Gibson
Chrysanthemums are the classic staple of an autumnal flower garden. Commonly referred to as mums, these beautiful hardy perennials thrive in most climates with very minimal care. The blooms are luscious and full, with seemingly hundreds of petals that congregate around the center and curl up at the ends.
Some chrysanthemum varieties have daisy-like blooms, some have petals like strings stretching out from the core in every direction, while the most popular varieties have flower heads that are so densely populated and ruffled that they look like pom poms. Mums are the traditional flower for corsages given to high school and middle school homecoming queens to wear on their lapel. Though mums are now available in every possible color or style imaginable, the soft yellow or orange chrysanthemum is still the most popular choice for gardeners today.
If you are thinking about planting chrysanthemums for your fall garden, you are making a great choice, as these blossoms will bring joy to you and your family as well as the people who pass by your garden everyday. Choose two or three different colors, and plant in blocks, with one color in each block to maximize the eye-catching effect of your mums. If you highlight them correctly, they should be the focal point of your flower garden during the fall.
There are over 150 different cultivars of the chrysanthemum flower. They’re available in every single shade imaginable and in several different flowerhead types. The National Chrysanthemum Society has broken down the different types into 13 different classifications. The most common of the chrysanthemum types fall into the first six categories, which are regular incurve, irregular incurve, pompon, decorative, intermediate incurve, and reflex. The daisy-like blooms are categorized as either single or semi-double varieties. There are also a few categories for mums that look nothing like the familiar blooms that catch our eyes each fall. These classes include spider, spoon, exotic, anemone, quill, brush (also called thistle), and unclassified/exotic.
Growing Conditions for Chrysanthemums
Mums thrive in just about any soil type, but they greatly benefit from a large dose of homemade compost. If you are not a composter, purchase some manure and wood shavings, and incorporate them into your soil in large amounts. The most important growing condition for mums is well-drained soil, so be sure to till up your beds, and add plenty of compost before planting. Poorly drained soil is the number one killer of chrysanthemums.
Mums also prefer a lot of sunlight, optimally six to eight hours of direct sun exposure per day. Mums grown in partial shade will do just fine, but you will get a lot more blooms out of your chrysanthemums if you give them lots of sun.
How to Plant Chrysanthemum Flowers
First of all, if you waited until fall to plant your chrysanthemums, you missed the opportunity to get the most out of your mums this year. Next year, be sure to plant your mums in the springtime so that they have time to develop a strong root system for fall blooming. Be sure to plant mums far apart so that they have plenty of room to call their own. Getting seeds to germinate can be very tricky, therefore we recommend using cuttings of mature mum plants or purchasing cultivated specimens.
Care of Chrysanthemums
Water chrysanthemums early and often, as their shallow root systems get dry very quickly in comparison to other plants. It is extra important to water your mums plenty during any dry spells and during the fall months, as they are storing up their energy to survive the winter freezes.
Remove stem tips early on in the growing season to avoid the saggy, leggy look. This step will also encourage branching, which will bring more blooms. Repeat stem tip removal every two weeks until mid July. This type of care is not necessary if you are growing mums as annuals, however.
Fertilize mums in the spring with a time-release fertilizer. Cool temperatures don’t bother mums at all, so no need to mulch the base of the plants until just before winter. In fact, cold weather actually perks up the chrysanthemum and makes its colors become more vibrant.
Garden Pests and Diseases of Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums are relatively pest and disease free. In fact, one particular variety of chrysanthemum is used to make organic pesticides to deter caterpillars, aphids, and other pests.
Chrysanthemums for Indoor Bouquets
Chrysanthemums are the perfect flower to use for indoor bouquets. The blooms don’t wilt quickly and tend to retain their color well after cutting. The flowers are the perfect centerpiece to give your dinner table some floral fireworks.
Giving mums as a gift is symbolic of a lasting friendship. They are not usually considered to be a romantic gift. Chrysanthemums also symbolize support, recovery, new life, and loyalty. The chrysanthemum has been bred and cultivated since the 15th century and is still used to help create beautiful landscapes to this day.
Videos About Growing Chrysanthemums
This video teaches you how to successfully grow chrysanthemums from cuttings:
This video gives you tips and tricks for growing mums from a mum expert:
This video teaches you how to grow chrysanthemums from seed: