For autumn color, chrysanthemums are showstoppers. They're the first choice of proud moms for homecoming corsages; their exquisite forms draw thousands to flower shows; and in the fall, they dominate prime counter space at garden centers.
Mums arrived in North America from Europe in the 18th century but long remained a minor player in the garden market. Then, in the 1930s and '40s, researchers discovered that by artificially lengthening the plants' night hours, they could bring mums into bloom at any time. Growers quickly realized the market potential of mums — lots of beautiful plants on a quick cycle. Breeders got busy, and the result is today's mind-boggling array of mum choices.