Chrysanthemums (mums) are one of the most popular fall garden flowers. Most varieties are easy to grow with their basic needs being full sun, rich soil, good drainage, and good air circulation. There are hundreds of varieties available in a range of shapes and sizes that can provide blooms from late summer through fall. Chrysanthemums symbolize different things in different countries: life and rebirth in Asia, sympathy in Europe, and respect and honor in America.

On this page: Basics | Planting & Care | Design Ideas | Pictures | FAQS

BASICS

Paradiso Pink garden mum. Photo by: Proven Winners.

Zones:

5-9 (some varieties to zone 4).

Height/Spread:

Varieties 1-3 feet/1-2 feet

Flower Color:

Chrysanthemum flowers bloom in a range of colors in shades of white, yellow, orange, lavender, purple, or red; as well as bicolor flowers.

Exposure:

They prefer full sunlight during the growing season. Not enough sunlight will result in a weaker plant that produces fewer flower heads. However, blooms will last longer if they are moved to a shadier spot after flower buds develop.

Soil:

Mums prefer rich, well-drained soil. A good rule of thumb is if the soil is good for vegetables, it's good for mums.

Bloom Time:

September to frost. Known as short-day plants, flowering is triggered by the shorter days in late summer and early fall. Flowering can also be forced in a light-controlled greenhouse.

PLANTING & CARE

When to plant:

For use as a perennial, plant in early spring or at least 6 weeks before a killing frost in fall. Planting chrysanthemums in spring will give them the best chance of surviving the following winter. If you are using them as an annual pop of fall color, plant them when blooming in late summer or early fall.

Water:

They require more frequent watering due to their shallow root system, especially in high heat or little rainfall. A layer of mulch in summer will help conserve water and keep the soil moist and cool.

Pruning:

Pinch approximately 1 inch from the branch tips two to three times during the growing season to encourage branching and a sturdier plant. Early bloomers that bloom in mid-September, should be pinched no later than mid-June. October bloomers can be pinched up until mid-July, with the rule of thumb being not to pinch any closer than 3 months to bloom time.

Propagation:

When grown as perennials, they can be divided every two to three years in the spring. Dig up the plant when new growth begins to appear, discard the dying center and re-plant the new shoots on the outside of the plant. They can also be grown from cuttings taken in the spring. Cut just below a leaf node and root in sterile potting soil. The new plants should be watered daily and kept in a sunny windowsill until established.

Fertilizer:

Mums are not big feeders, so it is best to apply a dilute fertilizer several times before bud set. A 5-10-5 fertilizer formulation will have the greatest effect on flower production and overall growth.

Diseases and Pests:

Some diseases that can affect them are leaf spot, powdery mildew, and viral diseases such as mosaic or stunt. Avoid overcrowding and overly shady locations that cause moisture to remain on the leaves and provide a habitat for diseases. Pests can include aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, leafminers, plant bugs, and spider mites.

DESIGN IDEAS

Create a Fall Fairy Garden

Chrysanthemums are great for growing directly in the garden or in containers, here are some ideas:

  • Perfect for containers and baskets because of their shallow-rooting habit.
  • Use as an annual in the fall to fill in and replace summer-blooming annuals.
  • With the many color varieties available, mums can provide coordinating or contrasting color accents to both indoor and outdoor spaces.
  • They are relatively inexpensive, making them a great choice for large groupings or repeating throughout an area.
  • Grow beside other fall-blooming plants like coneflower, sedum, aster, bluebeard, and pansies.

GARDEN MUM VS. FLORIST MUM:

The difference between garden and florist mums comes down to their hardiness. Garden mums are typically the varieties you would plant outdoors in your garden and are hardy in their specific zones. Florist mums are used solely for indoor potted plants and are not suited for transplanting outside. Make sure you are buying the correct type for your intended use and location.

PICTURES

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Orange ZestBuy from Proven Winners
Chrysanthemum grandiflorum

Zones: 7-9
Bloom time: Late summer through fall

Loaded with flowers, this mum has beautiful fall color, excellent rain tolerance, and long-lasting blooms.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Flamingo Pineapple PinkBuy from Proven Winners
C. grandiflorum

Zones: 7-9
Bloom time: Late summer through fall

A uniquely colored mum that is both heat and frost tolerant. Higher temperatures result in more cream color; lower temperatures, more pink.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Paradiso PinkBuy from Proven Winners
C. grandiflorum

Zones: 7-9
Bloom time: Late summer through fall

Add a flash of dark pink to your fall displays. Grows 12 to 20 inches tall and up to 30 inches wide. Also available in yellow and bronze in this series.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Hilo™ TangerineBuy from Proven Winners
C. grandiflorum

Zones: 10-11, usually grown as an annual
Bloom time: Spring and early to late fall

Bright tangerine-colored, daisy-like flowers bring a splash of sunshine to fall containers. Grows to 20 inches tall and wide. Good for containers and long-lasting cut flowers. Also try Hilo™ Fuchsia.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Pueblo™ YellowBuy from Proven Winners
C. grandiflorum

Zones: 10-11, usually grown as an annual
Bloom time: Early to late fall

Bright golden-yellow flowers bloom throughout fall. Grows to 20 inches tall and wide. Good for containers and long-lasting cut flowers. Also try Pueblo™ Cinnamon.

Photo by: Proven Winners.

Milton™ Pink BicolorBuy from Proven Winners
C. grandiflorum

Zones: 10-11, usually grown as an annual
Bloom time: Spring and early to late fall

Daisy-like flowers that are good for pollinators. Grows to 20 inches tall and wide. Good for containers and long-lasting cut flowers. Also try Milton™ Bronze Bicolor, Plum, and Dark Pink.

Photo by: Bluestone Perennials.

Chrysanthemum ‘Homecoming’

Zones: 5-9
Bloom time: Autumn
Flower shape: Football

'Homecoming' is a stunning mum with full, large flowers; perfect for cutting.

Photo by: Bluestone Perennials.

Chrysanthemum ‘Matchsticks’

Zones: 5-9
Bloom time: Autumn
Flower shape: Spoon/Quill

A bright, bicolored flower that will sometimes bloom in summer and then again in fall.

Photo by: Martin Hughes-Jones / Alamy Stock Photo.

Chrysanthemum ‘Bronze Elegans’

Zones: 6-9
Bloom time: Autumn
Flower shape: Double

This old-fashioned mum has fully double flowers in the perfect fall color.

Photo by: B Christopher / Alamy Stock Photo.

Chrysanthemum ‘Cambodian Queen’

Zones: 4-9
Bloom time: September to frost
Flower shape: Daisy

A sport of 'Sheffield Pink' with deeper pink coloring. Grown at Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, Norfolk Botanical Garden and the United States Botanic Garden.

Photo by: Garden World Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

Chrysanthemum ‘Ruby Mound’

Zones: 5-9
Bloom time: August to October
Flower shape: Cushion

Breed for hardiness in Minnesota, this mum is classified as decorative, which means it is a compact, rounded plant with a formal high petal count flower. Popular for borders and cottage gardens.

Photo by: Garden World Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

Chrysanthemum ‘Yellow Starlet’

Zones: 5-9
Bloom time: September to frost
Flower shape: Spoon

This mum is taller, reaching up to 2 feet in height.

Photo by: Garden World Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo.

Chrysanthemum ‘Brown Eyes’

Zones: 5-9
Bloom time: September to frost
Flower shape: Button

Forms a low mound of color with tough flowers.

Photo by: Rex May / Alamy Stock Photo.

Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’

Zones: 4-9
Bloom time: August to October
Flower shape: Incurved

The leaves of this mum turn deep red as they age, providing additionally fall interest.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Are chrysanthemums annuals or perennials?

Although the most widely available mums are grown as fall annuals, there are varieties that can also be grown as perennials in some regions with a little care to over-winter them. In colder zones, leave the top growth in place and add loose mulch such as straw or evergreen branches around them for protection, waiting to cut back in spring after new growth emerges. In warmer winter climates, they can be cut back to 6” tall after flowering. Check your local garden center to see what varieties work best in your area.

What about the potted mums sold at supermarkets and big box stores?

These affordable plants show up in stores during the fall and have a tidy mound of small flowers. Sometimes called garden mums or Belgian mums, these plants are typically grown as annuals. They are popular for use as part of an autumn container display. Most gardeners report that they aren’t as hardy as the mums featured above and rarely winter over.

Are mums poisonous to cats, dogs or other animals?

Mums do contain substances that are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses if ingested, so be sure to keep this in mind when choosing a location that might be explored by curious pets. See more Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats.

Are mums deer and rabbit resistant?

Deer and rabbits tend to avoid plants with fragrant leaves and fuzzy texture, both of which are attributes of mums, making them fairly resistant.

Related:
Homecoming Mums: A Texas Tradition
Asters

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