Garden chrysanthemums (Dendranthema morifolium), also known simply as "mums," are common garden perennials notable for their showy, multilayered flowers. Mums are fairly easy to grow and tolerate a range of growing conditions. They may be planted in containers, borders or flower beds. Cultivars are available in many colors and sizes.
A wide range of cultivars is available in the nursery trade. White-flowered types include Chablis, an early flowering variety with a creamy center; Patriot, a pure white mid- to late season flower with a spreading growth habit; and Tracy, a late-blooming daisylike cultivar. Yellow-flowered varieties include Yellow Sarah, which is late blooming and robust, and the long-lasting Jessica. Other varieties include the pink, daisylike Tripoli, which boasts yellow centers, and the compact, purple-flowered Tinkerbell.
The parent species from which garden chrysanthemums were derived hail from Japan and China. Mums are suitable garden plants for U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 9, surviving through mild frosts. Plant garden chrysanthemums in a bright, sunny location in the garden, spaced about 1 1/2 to 2 feet apart. Plants grown in partial or full shade will produce fewer flowers and display weaker growth.
Garden chrysanthemums tolerate a range of soil types, so long as it drains well. Mixing peat moss, compost or barnyard manure into the soil helps to increase drainage. Water is crucial to the success of mums, as infrequent watering will slow or stop the growth of the plant. Water mums frequently right after planting and during the growing season. Regular watering helps new plants develop a deep, strong root system.
Chrysanthemums are low maintenance and easy to grow. Pests and diseases are rarely a problem, although fungus may develop if plants are too close together. Check occasionally for pests such as spider mites, which sometimes appear in hot, dry weather. Fertilize weekly during the growing season and mulch to prevent weeds and keep the area around the plant looking neat and tidy. Mums can be propagated by division in the spring.
- University of Minnesota Extension; Garden Chrysanthemums; Mary H. Meyer, et al.; 2009
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension Chrysanthemum Diseases & Insect Pests; Marjan Kluepfel, et al.; December 2006
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension; Chrysanthemum; Karen Russ, et al.; March 1999
- Floridata; Chrysanthemum Hybrids; November 2000
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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