‘Tis The Season: Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums, commonly known as mums, are a classic addition to your Fall plantings. These beautiful perennials do well in pots by your door, as centerpieces for your Fall gathering, or in your garden along borders or rock gardens.

The name chrysanthemum literally means “golden flower”, although these days they come in a wide variety of hues. Chrysanthemums date back to 15th Century China, where their perfect petal alignment and beauty lead to them becoming synonymous with nobility and longevity – the mum was even used as the symbol of the Old Chinese Army and in the Imperial Seal of Japan!

Mums are “photoperiodic”, meaning they begin blooming in response to shorter days. This hardy perennial is a member of the daisy family, the Compositae family, and each flower head is formed by many flowers clustered together. There are actually 13 different types of mum, categorized by flower shape. Garden mums are the ones typically seen in grocery stores and nurseries this time of year, as they are very hardy, produce lots of flowers, and come in a huge range of colors.

Mums provide a great pop of color for your deck, green space, hanging basket or planters, and they are pretty easy to take care of too! You can plant these beauties in Spring or Fall; they will be happy throughout Spring and Summer as a lovely green plant before their gorgeous floral display begins in late Summer/Fall.

The main requirement for mums is good drainage. Although they like their soil to be moist without good drainage they will die. Adding some organic material to your soil (e.g. compost, peat moss) will ensure healthy growth and nutrients. Plant in full sun for best blooms, and when watering aim for the base of the plants – soaker hoses are a good option. Once flowering, pinching off faded or dead blooms will help prolong the flowering cycle.

Photo: Gilmour

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