Garden mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium) offer flowers to suit most tastes, from simple, daisylike blooms to large, showy globes of petals. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, garden mums are fall-flowering perennial plants that grow in clumps 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. Garden mum flowers are divided into 12 major categories, according to the placement, shape and size of the petals.
Single and Anemone
Single and anemone garden mums produce daisylike, small or large flowers. Both kinds feature a thin layer of petals around the center of each flower, but the center is more prominent in anemone garden mums than in single garden mums.
Decorative and Reflex
Masses of petals characterize decorative and reflex garden mums. Decorative garden mums' flowers are slightly flattened but full, and reflex garden mums' blooms are rounded heads of loose petals that lean outward. Both decorative and reflex garden mum flowers are medium-large or large.
Incurve garden mums also have many petals, and their petals curve inward. The flowers are divided into regular, intermediate and irregular incurve categories. Regular incurve garden mum blooms are compact, neatly packed globes, and intermediate incurve flowers are looser. Both kinds are large or medium-large blooms. Irregular incurve blooms are the largest garden mum flowers, and their lowest petals droop.
Spoon and Quill
Spoon and quill garden mums offer large or small flowers, and the varieties are named for the shapes of their petals. Spoon garden mum flowers are daisylike, and the petals are tubular and flattened at their tips, resembling tiny spoons. Quill garden mum petals are also tubular, but they remain curled inward in tubes to their tips.
Spider and Brush or Thistle
Long, thin petals like spider legs with coiled ends highlight spider garden mum flowers. Brush or thistle garden mums bear broom-shaped flowers, with the petals thin and pointing outward. Spider garden mums, also called Fuji mums, have large flowers. Brush or thistle mum blooms are medium-large.
Pompon garden mum flowers are button- or ball-shaped and range from small to medium-large, according to the variety. Small pompon garden mum blooms resemble buttons.
Care of Mum Flowers
Pinching off stem tips and some flower buds encourages garden mums to produce the best flowers. Garden mum stems and flower buds are soft and simple to remove by pinching them between your thumb and forefinger.
In late spring, pinch off 1 inch of each stem tip all over the garden mums to produce bushy, dense plants. If you want the plants to have large, single flowers, then remove all side flower buds that appear below single flower buds at the stem ends. Alternatively, encourage large sprays of small flowers by removing the single flower buds that appear at the stem ends.