Mums, Chrysanthemum x morifolium

Chrysanthemum x morifolium, commonly called mums, is an herbaceous perennial which adds a pop of color to your garden when the leaves start to fall and the colder days start to come. Mums are native to Asia and are in the family Asteraceae. Mums begins to grow in spring and summer but do not bloom until autumn.

Growing mums in the garden strictly depends on choosing the right variety. There are many attractive florist mums sold widely; however, many are not suitable for growing in the garden as they have limited root systems. These florist mums are frequently grown in containers and add visual interest in the garden and home.

Some florist variations include the following: cascades, charms, sprays, anemone, incurved, Korean, pompom, reflexes, spidery, and reflexes.

When looking to add mums to the garden, look for hardy mums. They can be planted in the spring or fall. Mums prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

Mums grow best when pinched back in the spring and early summer. Remove the stem above the second set of leaves. This directs the growth downward and ensures that your mum won’t bloom too early. The pinched back material can be used to start new plants if desired. Some of the newer cultivars do not need to be pinched back, but most benefit from this practice.

Mums benefit from a dose of slow-release fertilizer in the spring to promote growth.

Chrysanthemum leaves and flower heads are variable in size and shape. They can be browsed by deer and rabbits. Mums are susceptible to bacterial blight, leaf spot, and numerous insects.

The explosion of color in the fall provides a freshness as the summer starts to fade. Be sure to add mums to your fall garden beds. They pair well with mustard greens and ornamental cabbage and kale. Chrysanthemums will come back year after year and provide enjoyment for years to come.

Photos and information by Jeanne Pavero

North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox