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Chrysanthemum (Mums)

Chrysanthemums, often referred to as mums, are renowned for their captivating beauty and diverse range of colors and forms. They add a splash of color to gardens and floral arrangements alike

Chrysanthemum, Mums, Garden Mums

Chrysanthemums, often called mums, are renowned for their captivating beauty and diverse colors and forms. These delightful blooms add a splash of color to gardens and floral arrangements alike. From classic pompom shapes to intricate spider varieties, chrysanthemums offer a stunning array of options to enhance your outdoor space with their charming presence.

What is Chrysanthemum?

Native: Chrysanthemums are native to Asia and northeastern Europe. Specifically, many chrysanthemum species trace their origins to China, where they have been cultivated for over 2,500 years for both ornamental and medicinal purposes.

Description: Chrysanthemums are annuals, perennials, or small shrubs prized for their striking, diverse flowers. They are part of the Asteraceae family, making them relatives to daisies and sunflowers. Their blooms come in various forms, from daisy-like singles to more elaborate pompons.

Growth Habit: These plants have a bushy growth habit, often forming a dense mound of foliage that’s perfect for creating a full appearance in garden beds or containers. Chrysanthemums are versatile plants that can be grown as both annuals and perennials, depending on the variety and the climate in which they’re planted.

  • Garden Mums, known as hardy Mums (Chrysanthemum x morifolium), are perennial plants. These can typically be directly sowed in zones 5-9, where they become dormant in the cold months and reemerge each spring.
  • Florist Mums are usually treated as annuals. These are cultivated primarily for their showy blossoms suited for bouquets, pot displays, or exhibitions, but they often don’t make it through winter. Notable annual species include the Yellow Daisy (Chrysanthemum multicaule) and Painted Daisy (Chrysanthemum carinatum or Chrysanthemum tricolor).

Size: Depending on the variety, chrysanthemums can range from compact, dwarf varieties that stand only a foot tall (30 cm) to larger types that can reach up to 3 feet (90 cm) in height.

Flowers: Mums are famed for their profuse and vibrant flowers. They can be found in a wide range of colors, including white, yellow, orange, lavender, purple, red, and various shades in between.

Foliage: Their leaves are typically medium to dark green, deeply lobed, and have an alternating pattern along the stems.

Blooming Season: Chrysanthemums primarily bloom in late summer and fall, bringing color to gardens when many other plants are starting to fade.

Hardiness: They are relatively hardy plants, generally suitable for USDA zones 5-9. However, specific hardiness can vary depending on the cultivar.

Uses: Chrysanthemums serve as perfect border plants, enlivening patios in pots and containers. Their diverse color palette complements autumn landscapes. Additionally, they can act as a natural insect repellent, deterring pests with the pyrethrins they contain. Beyond their ornamental garden use, mums are popular cut flowers. In some cultures, they also have culinary and medicinal applications. Chrysanthemum tea, a traditional Chinese herbal tea, is made from dried chrysanthemum flowers.

Pollinators: Chrysanthemums attract various pollinators, including bees and butterflies, making them beneficial for supporting local ecosystems.

Toxicity: While often used in traditional medicine, chrysanthemums can be toxic to pets, especially dogs, cats, and horses, if ingested.

Deer and Rabbit: Chrysanthemums can be appealing to both deer and rabbits in many areas.

Drought: Mature chrysanthemums have moderate drought resistance, but it’s best to ensure consistent moisture for optimal growth.

Invasiveness: While chrysanthemums are popular garden plants, some species can potentially become invasive in certain areas.

  • Chrysanthemum segetum (Corn Marigold or Corn Daisy): Originally from Europe, this species has become naturalized in parts of North America and is considered a weed in some agricultural settings.
  • Chrysanthemum parthenium (Feverfew): While grown as an ornamental and medicinal plant, feverfew can become invasive in some areas, especially in temperate zones. It is native to Eurasia but has spread to other parts of the world, including North America.
  • Chrysanthemum coronarium (Crown Daisy): Native to the Mediterranean region, it has become naturalized in parts of North America and is considered invasive in areas like California.

Key Facts: Revered in Asian cultures, chrysanthemums symbolize longevity and vitality. In Japan, there’s even a “Chrysanthemum Day” or “Festival of Happiness.” Additionally, certain chrysanthemum species are used to make a tea in various Asian traditions.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 5 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Genus Chrysanthemum
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Cut Flowers
Attracts Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Cutting Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden
Chrysanthemum ‘Apricot’
Chrysanthemum ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’
Chrysanthemum ‘Emperor of China’

Why Should I Grow Chrysanthemum?


Growing chrysanthemums offers a myriad of benefits and aesthetic pleasures to the gardener. Here’s why you might consider cultivating them:

Brilliant Fall Colors: Chrysanthemums bloom in the fall, when many other plants begin to fade. Their vibrant colors can reinvigorate a garden during this time, providing a late-season burst of beauty.

Diverse Range: With thousands of varieties available, there’s a chrysanthemum for nearly every aesthetic preference, from simple daisy-like blooms to intricate spider and pompon forms, and in colors ranging from whites and yellows to deep purples and reds.

Durable and Hardy: These plants are relatively hardy and can thrive in a variety of conditions, making them suitable for different types of gardens and climates.

Beneficial for Pollinators: Mums attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators, supporting biodiversity in the garden.

Cut Flower Use: They make beautiful cut flowers, allowing you to bring the beauty of the garden indoors. Their long vase life ensures they remain fresh for an extended period.

Traditional Significance: Chrysanthemums have deep cultural and symbolic meanings in many Asian cultures, representing longevity and rejuvenation.

Medicinal and Culinary Uses: Certain varieties have been used in traditional Asian medicine and cuisine, adding another dimension to their garden value.

Versatility: Whether you have a spacious garden or just a balcony, chrysanthemums can fit in. They grow well in the ground, but many varieties also thrive in pots or containers.

In essence, chrysanthemums are not just beautiful; they are a practical and multifaceted addition to any garden space. Whether you’re a novice gardener or an expert, these flowers can offer something special to your landscape.

Chrysanthemum Flamingo Pineapple Pink
Chrysanthemum carinatum (Painted Daisy)
Chrysanthemum ‘Cheryl Pink’

Garden Design with Chrysanthemum

Designing a garden with chrysanthemums can provide a striking visual display, especially during the late summer and autumn months when these flowers are in their full glory. Their vibrant blooms, combined with their versatile growth habits, make chrysanthemums a favorite choice among garden enthusiasts. Here’s how you can incorporate chrysanthemums into your garden design:

Seasonal Focus: Chrysanthemums are renowned for their fall blooms. Position them where they can be the focal point during this season, complementing the changing colors of deciduous trees or contrasting evergreens.

Borders and Edges: The compact nature of many chrysanthemum varieties makes them ideal for borders. Their dense growth can help define garden pathways and the edges of flower beds.

Mass Plantings: Planting chrysanthemums in large groups or swathes can create a powerful visual impact, especially with varieties that have bright and bold colors.

Container Gardening: For those with limited space or those looking to decorate patios and balconies, chrysanthemums grow well in pots and planters. This also allows for easy rearrangement as the seasons change.

Layering: Use taller chrysanthemum varieties at the back of beds or borders, with shorter ones in front. This tiered approach maximizes visibility and creates depth in the garden.

Rock Gardens: Some dwarf varieties of chrysanthemums are suited for rock gardens, where their vivid colors can contrast beautifully with the natural stone.

Cutting Gardens: If you enjoy fresh bouquets, designate a part of your garden for chrysanthemum varieties that are great for cutting. This way, you can enjoy their beauty both outdoors and inside your home.

Color Themes: Create color-themed sections in your garden. For instance, a white garden can benefit from the pure white blooms of certain chrysanthemum varieties.

Ground Cover: Some spreading varieties can be used as a colorful ground cover, especially in areas that might benefit from late-season blooms.

Natural Pest Control: Chrysanthemums contain pyrethrin, a natural insect repellent. Planting them in strategic locations can assist in keeping certain pests at bay.

When designing with chrysanthemums, remember to consider their needs. Most mums prefer well-draining soil, full sun to partial shade, and regular watering. With proper care, they can be a standout feature in your garden design, offering annual bursts of color and charm.

Chrysanthemum ‘Jolly Cheryl’
Chrysanthemum ‘Fireglow Bronze’
Chrysanthemum ‘Clara Curtis’

Companion Plants for Your Chrysanthemum

Companion planting is a time-tested gardening technique that uses the beneficial qualities of different plants to support and enhance each other’s growth, health, and beauty. When it comes to chrysanthemums, several plants complement their needs and aesthetics. Here are some of their best companion plants:

Asters: With similar blooming times and a range of colors, asters and mums can create a vibrant fall display together. They also share similar growing conditions.

Bluebeard (Caryopteris) is a wonderful companion plant for chrysanthemums. Its vibrant blue flowers and aromatic foliage create a beautiful contrast. Other good companion options include salvia, asters, sedum, and ornamental grasses.

Coneflowers (Echinacea): While they bloom earlier than mums, their seed heads can add interest and texture to the garden during the fall.

Goldenrod (Solidago): This native plant produces bright yellow flowers that can contrast beautifully with chrysanthemums, especially red, bronze, or white varieties.

Helenium (Sneezeweed) is a great companion plant for chrysanthemums. Its cheerful daisy-like flowers in shades of yellow, orange, and red complement the colors of chrysanthemums. Both plants thrive in similar growing conditions and can create a vibrant and colorful display in the garden.

Heuchera (Coral Bells): With its mounded form and colorful foliage, heuchera can complement chrysanthemums nicely, offering color even when not in bloom.

Kale and Ornamental Cabbage: These plants add a touch of unique texture and color, which can enhance the overall appearance of a garden bed with mums.

Ornamental Grasses: The vertical lines and airy structures of ornamental grasses can beautifully contrast with the dense, mounded form of chrysanthemums. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) or fountain grass (Pennisetum) are great options.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia): With its tall, airy structure and silvery-blue hue, Russian sage provides a complementary backdrop to the bold colors of mums.

Sedums: Autumn-blooming sedums like ‘Autumn Joy’ have a sturdy, upright habit that pairs well with mums. Their fleshy leaves also add a different texture to the garden.

When planning your garden, remember to consider each plant’s individual needs in terms of sunlight, water, and soil type. Good companions should not only look good together but also support each other’s growth and health.

Chrysanthemum, Kale, Fall Border

Companion Plants for Your Chrysanthemum

Aster novi-belgii (New York Aster)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
Sedum (Stonecrop)
Echinacea (Coneflower)
Heuchera (Coral Bells)
Solidago (Goldenrod)
Caryopteris – Bluebeards
Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)
Helenium (Sneezeweed)

Growing Tips

Growing chrysanthemums can be rewarding as they bring vibrant colors to the garden, especially in the fall when many other plants are winding down. Here’s a comprehensive guide to growing these beautiful blooms:

Choosing Your Chrysanthemum:

  • Type: Decide if you want garden hardy mums (perennial) or florist mums (typically treated as annuals). Garden hardy varieties are bred to survive winters and come back each year.

Planting Location:

  • Choose a location that receives at least 5-6 hours of sunlight daily. Mums thrive in well-drained soil, so avoid areas where water stands.

Soil Preparation:

  • Chrysanthemums prefer well-drained, sandy loam with a neutral to slightly acidic soil pH (6.5 to 7.0). If your soil is clayey, amend it with compost or peat moss to improve drainage.

Planting:

  • If starting with a potted plant, dig a hole twice as wide as the pot and of the same depth. Remove the plant from the pot, gently loosen its roots, and place it in the hole, filling it with soil. Water thoroughly.

Watering:

  • Mums require frequent watering due to their shallow roots. However, avoid overhead watering as this can lead to fungal diseases. Instead, water at the base of the plant.

Fertilizing:

  • Mums are heavy feeders. They respond well to the addition of one or two light applications of a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10..

Pinching for Bushier Plants:

  • Pinch off the tips of the stems when the plant reaches 6-8 inches tall (15-20 cm) to encourage branching. This results in a bushier plant with more flowers. Stop pinching around mid-July to allow buds to form.

Protection:

  • While garden mums are cold-hardy, they benefit from mulching for winter protection. Once the ground freezes, add several inches of straw or shredded leaves over the plants.

Disease and Pest Control:

Deadheading:

  • Remove spent blooms to keep the plant looking tidy and encourage further flowering.

Overwintering:

  • For perennial varieties, after the first hard frost, cut stems back to 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) above the ground. Mulch over the plants to protect them from freezing and thawing cycles.

Propagation:

  • Chrysanthemums can be propagated by division in the spring. Dig up the plant, divide it into smaller sections ensuring each section has roots, and replant.

By providing proper care and attention, chrysanthemums can be a vibrant and long-lasting addition to your garden, brightening up the landscape during the cooler months of the year.

Chrysanthemum ‘Grandchild’
Chrysanthemum ‘Will’s Wonderful’
Chrysanthemum ‘Bolero’

Frequently Asked Questions

What do chrysanthemums symbolize?

Chrysanthemums carry a variety of meanings across different cultures. In general, they symbolize longevity, fidelity, joy, and optimism. In Asia, especially in China and Japan, chrysanthemums are highly revered. In Japan, they represent the Emperor and the imperial family, symbolizing rejuvenation and longevity. The “Festival of Happiness” in Japan celebrates this flower. In Western cultures, they can signify positivity and cheerfulness, though they are also often given for sympathy as they symbolize an enduring life and death’s transition.

Do chrysanthemums repel bugs?

Yes, chrysanthemums can repel bugs. They contain pyrethrins, a substance that can naturally repel insects. Pyrethrins are extracted from chrysanthemums to create natural insect-repellent products. They’re effective against mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, silverfish, ants, and many other pests. Planting chrysanthemums in your garden can help reduce the number of pests, though for consistent protection, especially indoors, the extracted pyrethrin is often utilized.

Why are chrysanthemums funeral flowers?

In many European countries, chrysanthemums are seen primarily as a symbol of death and are used mainly for funerals or on graves. The reason for this association varies, but the flower’s symbolism of an enduring life and the transition of death is one potential explanation. Their fall blooming period also aligns with All Souls’ Day in many cultures, further solidifying their association with honoring the deceased.

What does chrysanthemum do to your body?

Chrysanthemum has been used in traditional medicine, especially in Asian cultures, for its potential health benefits. Chrysanthemum tea, for instance, is popular in parts of Asia and is believed to have various health benefits such as helping with relaxation, improving cardiovascular health, boosting the immune system, and providing relief from sore throats and respiratory issues. The flower is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As always, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new herbal remedies.

Discover These Helpful Guides for Further Reading

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While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.

Guide Information

Hardiness 5 - 9
Heat Zones 5 - 9
Climate Zones 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, H1
Plant Type Annuals, Perennials
Genus Chrysanthemum
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Spread 1' - 3'
(30cm - 90cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Cut Flowers
Attracts Butterflies
Landscaping Ideas Patio And Containers, Beds And Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Cutting Garden, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden
Compare All Chrysanthemum (Mums)
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