Mums can give you color till the cold comes.
Chrysanthemums nicknamed “mums,” are one of fall’s quintessential flowers. They’re usually the last plant to bloom before frost, ushering your garden into the big sleep of winter with a last bang of color.
There are many species of mums, hundreds of varieties, and thousands of hybrids, with blooms that can be as frilly as a cheerleading pompom or as dainty as a daisy. Mums come in a rich range of colors including white, yellow, orange, lavender, purple, red and bicolor. They’re easy-to-grow and can be used in beds, borders, and containers. They attract butterflies in the fall and make great cut flowers, lasting up to two weeks in a bouquet.
Chrysanthemums are an ancient flower, cultivated in China as far back as the 15th century. Flowers can be as small as a quarter or big as a dinner plate. They bloom in various shapes, according to variety. Mums can be flat flowers with a single or double layer of petals that look like daisies, or a mounded flower with long petals shaped like tubes or quills.
Growing Mums. Chrysanthemums grow 1′ to 3′ tall and get 1′ to 2′ wide, depending on the type.
When and Where to Plant Mums
If you’re using a mum as a perennial, plant in early spring, or in the fall at least six weeks before the first killing frost. If you’re using chrysanthemums for a pop of fall color to boost your late season garden, plant them when they’re blooming in later summer or early fall and treat them as annuals.
Mums grow best in full sun. Give them too little sunlight, and you’ll get a weak plant that produces few flowers.
Mums are happiest in rich, well-drained soil. Add compost or other organic material to your soil when you plant to give your mum the best shot at being a strong, healthy plant.
Garden Design Suggestions
- Mums are ideal for containers because of their shallow root systems.
- Use those pots of blooming mums sold in the fall as annuals to replace summer annuals that are past their prime. Tuck the mums in beds, borders, or planters to keep the color coming until frost.
- Plant them in beds or borders in the early spring or fall as perennials. They come back each fall with more flowers.
- Plant chrysanthemums in swaths or clumps of the same color and flower type. Mass plantings are pleasing to the eye.
- Pair them with other late-season bloomers like sedum, goldenrod, Russian sage and asters.
- Use them in the middle of sunny borders, cutting gardens and butterfly gardens.
- Mums contain substances that can be toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, so keep that in mind if you have pets that might munch on them.