Chrysanthemums have dark green, deeply lobed and aromatic leaves with soft grey undersides. They come in a wide variety of flower shapes, sizes and colors, from dark burgundy, bronzes and oranges, to lavenders, light pastel pinks, and whites. The hundreds of cultivars of mums are classified by flower shape: pompons are double and ball shaped; reflexed are double with downward curving rays; spiders are double with long tubular, spreading rays; spoons are semidouble with spoon shaped rays; and there are several other shapes. All of the garden mums bloom in late summer or fall and many cultivars flower in spring as well. Plants may be low and spreading or may reach up to 5'.
The parent species from which the garden mums were derived are native to China and Japan.
Mums prefer slightly acidic soil with organic components and moderate moisture, but will grow in less than ideal conditions. Pinch new growth during the late spring and summer to increase branching and prevent tall, leggy plants. Side buds may be removed to allow a larger, terminal flower to develop. (Such treatment is not necessary, though; it merely results in larger but fewer flowers.) Divide or thin plants, preferably in spring before rapid growth begins or in fall after blooming. Chrysanthemums are relatively disease and pest free, although they may be attacked by spider mites in hot, dry weather. Fungal leaf spot can be a problem if plants are crowded and get poor air circulation. Overall, mums are very easy plants to grow and maintain, and they certainly reward mightily! Light: Sun to part sun. Moisture: Moderately moist. Mums are fairly drought tolerant once established, but be sure to water when plant is in bud if conditions are dry. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5-9. Most varieties are hardy through mild frosts. Propagation: Mums are mainly propagated by division. If your plants are too small to divide, you can start new ones from tip cuttings in spring and summer.
In beds, chrysanthemums are best appreciated in large groupings, where they can be majestic when in full bloom. Almost all produce excellent flowers for use indoors, whether planted in pots or used as cut flowers. Once the bud shows color, it will definitely open indoors, as long as the plant does not dry out. In small gardens or where space is at a premium, there are other, longer blooming annuals and perennials that will give satisfaction for a longer period of time than mums.
Chrysanthemums are ubiquitous, well known for their multitudinous flower forms, their seasonal appearance in fall, and their consistent availability in the floral industry. See also Floridata's mums Fact Track
hc 09/07/98; updated sc 11/21/00
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