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Betterdays In Full Swing
Betterdays In Full Swing

Chrysanthemums: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Beautiful Mums


It seems as soon as the air cools, signaling the coming of fall, garden centers begin showcasing full mounds of brilliant red, yellow, and violet flowers. Chrysanthemums, or mums, are a staple in fall gardens. Mums are a national symbol of fall abundance, and this herbaceous and hardy perennial is an easy addition to give a gorgeous pop of color in your fall garden landscape. With a little understanding and a few simple tips, you can have a lush, beautiful fall chrysanthemum garden display to help celebrate the changing of seasons.

What Are Chrysanthemum?

Chrysanthemum are a member of the Compositae family and are available in a wide range of brilliant colors, shapes and sizes. First cultivated in China over 6 centuries ago, this type of daisy was initially grown as an herb associated with the power of life. The chrysanthemum flowers range from dazzling whites to deep bronzes, and the hardy plants are highlighted with full, dark green leaves.

Chrysanthemum flowers look like they have a multitude of petals, but each individual petal is actually a small floret. There are two different types of florets: ray and disc florets. Ray florets are what we traditionally see as the petals, while the disc florets create the center buttons. When the florets are all clustered together, they give us what we know and love as a mum bloom.

Growing Chrysanthemum 02

Types of Chrysanthemum

With over 100 different chrysanthemum cultivars in the United States, the National Chrysanthemum Society has a classification system in place to categorize 13 different mums by flower shape.

  1. Anemone
    These daisy-like blooms feature long, tubular florets clustered around a tight button center. They form a 4-inch bloom in single or multiple colors.
    Popular varieties include: Dorothy Mechum, Purple Light and Angel
  2. Decorative
    Florists use decorative class mums in floral arrangements. The 5-inch plus blooms have a flat appearance as the florets gradually get longer from the center out.
    Popular varieties include: Fireflash, Coral Charm and Honeyglow
  3. Irregular Incurve
    Incurve blooms feature florets curving inwards. Irregular incurve mums feature large blooms between 6 to 8 inches. The florets curve in and cover the center of the flower. A few florets at the bottom of the bloom add fringe to the stem.
    Popular varieties include: Luxor, Blushing Bride and River City
  4. Intermediate Incurve
    The florets of an intermediate incurve mum don’t cover the center of the bloom. With shorter florets curving inwards, the less-compact bloom of an intermediate incurve only reaches a maximum 6 inches.
    Popular varieties include: Apricot Alexis, Candid and Pat Lawson
  5. Regular Incurve
    Regular incurve chrysanthemum blossoms are tight, smooth globes of inwardly curving florets. Each bloom is between 4 to 6 inches in diameter.
    Popular varieties include: Gillette, Moira and Heather James
  6. Pompom
    Resembling the regular incurve, Pompom mums are only 1 to 4 inches. The tight blooms are common in floral arrangements.
    Popular varieties include: Rocky, Yoko Ono and Lavender Pixie
  7. Quilled
    Show-stopping quilled chrysanthemums feature long, tubular florets that open to a spoon shape or slight downward curve at the end. Their spiky appearance often mimics other types of mums.
    Popular varieties include: Seatons Toffee, Mammoth Yellow Quill and Muted Sunshine
  8. Single and Semi-Double
    These daisy look-a-likes feature one or two rounds of ray florets around a compact center. Their total plant size is between 1 to 3 feet, making them ideal for small spaces and borders.
    Popular varieties include: Rage, Icy Island and Crimson Glory
  9. Spider
    Spider mums are well known for their long, spiky florets of single or multiple colors. The tubular florets resemble spider legs and can go in all directions. The delicate and exotic appearance creates a focal bloom in your garden.
    Popular varieties include: Evening Glow, Symphony and Western Voodoo
  10. Spoon
    Spoon mums have a button center surrounded by ray florets featuring a spoon shape at each tip. They are often mistaken for single chrysanthemums, but the difference lays in the slight curve.
    Popular varieties include: Kimie, Fantasy and Redwing
  11. Reflex
    The bloom of a reflex mum is slightly flat with florets that curve downward. The crossing of the florets produces an interesting feather-like appearance.
    Popular varieties include: White City, Champion and Apricot
  12. Thistle
    The thistle bloom, also called the bush bloom, often features multi-colored blooms. The long, thin florets twist to rise up or fall backwards towards the stem. Thistle blooms have a unique, exotic look to them.
    Popular varieties include: Cindy, Cisco and Orange Spray
  13. Unclassified
    With so many chrysanthemum varieties, many chrysanthemum blooms feature characteristics that place them in more than one category. Unclassified mums exhibit a wide range of colors and sizes.
    Popular varieties include: Lone Star, Lili Gallon and Pacificum

Steps to Planting Chrysanthemums

You may be asking yourself how to grow chrysanthemums to fill your garden landscape as quickly as possible. Taking the time to first understand how to plant chrysanthemums rewards you with full, beautiful plants loaded with blooms.

Caring for Chrysanthemums

Mums are generally considered low maintenance plants. Knowing how to care for chrysanthemums properly simply requires basic gardening techniques. With just a little special chrysanthemum care, your garden will be filled with a multitude of beautiful blooms.

Chrysanthemum FAQs

Can You Grow Chrysanthemum from Seeds?

Although most mums are purchased from garden centers as already-established plants or propagated from cuttings and division, you can grow chrysanthemums from seed. It can be a bit of an adventure, because many chrysanthemum seeds do not stay true to the parent plant. This means you can end up with a wide variety of flower colors and sizes.

Mums have a long growing season. Growing chrysanthemums from seeds requires planning in areas with short growing seasons. Start the seeds indoors six to eight weeks prior to the last frost date. Transfer to the garden when the chrysanthemum seedlings are 6 to 8 inches tall. Expect to see blooms the first year after planting.

Can You Grow Chrysanthemum in Pots?

Growing chrysanthemums in pots is a perfect garden solution for apartments and small gardens. Most garden mums grow to 2 to 3 feet in size and require at least a 12-inch container for the best support. Rich potting soil with good drainage is essential.

To encourage root growth, water container mums from the bottom of the container. Add a water-soluble fertilizer on a weekly basis. Because mums require the proper sunlight to set blooms, placing your plant in a south-facing window and away from artificial light produces the best results. Storing in a protected garage during the winter months can help your plant rest for new spring growth.

How Long Does It Take for Mums to Grow?

The chrysanthemum growing rate depends on many variables. Different varieties feature different growth rates and mature size. Plants grown from seed may take several years to reach their full growth potential. Mums grown from already-established garden center plants and division have a head-start on the growing season. Taking proper care of mums through watering, fertilizing and pinching increases the fullness and growth capabilities of the plant.

How Long Do Mums Last After They Bloom?

Although we generally think of fall as being chrysanthemum season, there are actually three different types of blooming mums: early bloomers, early fall bloomers and late fall bloomers. Early bloomers often begin flowering in late July, early fall bloomers show off blooms in September and late fall bloomers start their stunning display of colors in October. Each variety differs, but most mums will continue to bloom for four to eight weeks.

There are many ways to extend the flowering of chrysanthemums. Deadheading spent blooms, fertilizing in the spring and avoiding overcrowding will help your mums produce more blooms over a longer period of time.

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