Last Updated On: January 8th, 2020
Learn all about Chrysanthemums in this gardener's guide of these beautiful, fall bloomers, including plant care, companion plants, medicinal uses, and more.
Nothing screams fall season like our garden chrysanthemums. Also called "mums", their flowers are small, colorful, and beautiful.
Revered throughout history for different reasons, their massive commercial success and abundance of cultivars have continued to delight gardeners around the world.
In our plant profile below, you'll learn about the many benefits this beautiful plant has to offer.
Read our chrysanthemum plant profile post below to learn:
- How to maintain and care for chrysanthemums in your garden.
- The best growing conditions for your mums.
- The history of mums.
- Are mums annuals or perennials?
- Fun facts and so much more.
Chrysanthemums: Why We're Featuring This Plant
First, fall season and garden mums are a perfect fit. Although mums also bloom in the spring, the fall season is where they stand apart and shine. They add beautiful pops of color around the yard and are suitable for both borders and container baskets.
In addition to their beauty, these hardy plants are really easy to maintain. With just a bit of deadheading for spent flowers, mums can be enjoyed throughout most of the fall months and often into the following spring. Plus, they have a long growing season as long as they have proper care, adequate sunlight exposure (at least 5-6 hours daily), and are not immersed in standing water. Their low maintenance needs are perfectly suited for both beginning gardeners and novices alike.
Finally, we're featuring chrysanthemums because of their variety in size, color, and shape.
Aside from the mums you might buy in stores every fall that look like pom poms, there are so many other types of mums out there to explore including spider mums or anenome mums. In fact, there are 12-13 different flower forms that have been designated for this one plant!
Chrysanthemum Plants: History and Uses
Mums are in the massive Asteraceae plant family. Also known as the daisy family, this family group has more than 20,000 species of flowering plants throughout the world!
The daisy family features some of the most popular flowers in the world including quite a few you have probably heard of before. A quick fun fact is a unique characteristic every member of this family shares. The flowers in this family group are actually made up of two types of flowers, not just one. Each flower you see is composed of one or more rows of "Ray" flowers on the perimeter/edge and the "Disk" flowers in the center. Think of a typical daisy, like a Shasta daisy, they have the white petals (the "rays") and the yellow centers are actually another flower (the "discs"). Interesting, huh?
Daisy family members are valued for a range of uses, including:
- Cut flowers
- Ornamental gardens
- Cooking oils
- Herbal teas
- Other medicinal uses
Other members of the large Asteraceae family include Shasta daisies, Sunflowers, Blanket flowers, Zinnias, Asters, Black-Eyed Susans, Coneflowers, and Lettuce to name a few (of the many)!
History of Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemum has a long, storied history going back to 15th Century China. Research suggests that mums were first cultivated there based on drawings, descriptions, and pottery from that time period. They used mums medicinally to calm headaches or brew the leaves into festive drinks, like tea.
Currently, Chrysanthemum tea is still a very popular East Asian beverage. It is believed to offer medicinal properties including the ability to protect your heart, boost your immune system, improve vision, calm your nerves, and many other things.
Symbolically, chrysanthemums have been used to signify everything from life to death throughout the world. In most parts of the world, chrysanthemums symbolize life, joy, and longevity. However, in many European countries, the Chrysanthemum flower symbolizes death and is used as a funeral flower.
Today, mums remain the most widely grown potted plant in the U.S. and are one of the longest-lasting of all the cut flowers.
If you want to read more about the history of chrysanthemums, check out National Chrysanthemum Society, USA.
Chrysanthemums Around the World
The Chinese city of Chu-Hsien translates to "Chrysanthemum City" and was named to honor the flower. This was in direct result of how popular and beloved the flower was in the 15th Century B.C.
Eventually, mums found their way to Japan by the 8th Century A.D. where they became the most beloved flower of that time. In fact, the Japanese people were so enamored by mums they made them the official seal of their emperor! To this day, Japan celebrates "Chrysanthemum Day."
By the 17th Century, Karl Linnaeus introduced mums to the Western world. Naming the flower after the Greek words chrysos, meaning gold, and anthemon, meaning flower. Mums grew in popularity and eventually made their way to the U.S. where the rest is history.
Today, mums continue to gain popularity, especially each fall as they adorn American porches and walkways. In addition, they are celebrated through many official Chrysanthemum societies that exist throughout the U.S. and Europe.
Now that you’ve caught up on a brief history, let's move on to the common characteristics of Chrysanthemums.
Chrysanthemum Care and Plant Profile
Now that you've learned a bit of background information about this amazing fall bloomer, it's time to present you with an overall guide to plant care to get you started with the basics.
Then, after you read the table below, keep scrolling to learn more about specific tools for best maintenance, book suggestions for further education, and companion plants.
But first, collect your free plant guide to take with you!
|Common/Trade Name||Chrysanthemum or Mums|
|Botanical/Scientific Name||Chrysanthemum x grandiflorum|
|Cultivars||'Firewheel' ; 'Kelvin Mandarin'; 'Apricot' ; 'Penny Lane' ; 'Pink Miss Olympia' ; 'Super Yellow'; 'Fireflash'; 'Crimson Tide'; 'Dorridge King'; 'Virginia'; and more.|
|Zones||USDA - hardy to zones 5 to 9; Sunset - grows in zones 2 to 24 and H1|
|General Information||In the Asteraceae family , related to Shasta Daisy, Asters, Zinnia, and others in this family.
This species is considered the "Florists' Chrysanthemum" with flower forms coming in: Anemone, Brush, Incurve, Irregular Incurve, Laciniated, Pompon, Quill, Reflex, Semidouble, Single or Daisy, Spider, and Spoon forms.
|Native Environment||Native to China, Japan, and Europe.|
|Plant Type||Perennial in most climates, but annual in some, too.|
|Water Needs||Regular water.|
|Mature Height/Width||Can vary, from under 1-foot to 6-feet tall with variable width.|
|Bloom Time||Summer to mid-Fall.|
|Flower Colors||Pink, purple, red, yellow, bronze, orange, lavender and white. Also in multi-colors.|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Growth Habit||Small to medium shrub; upright.|
|Soil Needs||Well-drained soil with lots of organic matter.|
|Fertilize||Feed plants with balanced fertilizer two to three times during the growing season and then 2-weeks before blooms are expected to break with a low nitrogen fertilizer. This will help with flowering.|
|Plant Spacing||Can vary, but if spaced closer together, the taller your flower stems will be, in general, and your plant overall. If spaced further apart, the shorter your flower stems will be, in general, and your plant overall.|
|Suggested Companion Plant/s||This species is great for use along in-ground borders or containers. They can definitely be used as focal points and to enhance entrances and walkways.
Work well with many different plants, including in containers with Dusty-Miller, later-blooming Dahlias, and Violas. They also help liven up evergreen landscapes that otherwise wouldn't have color in the fall. Border plantings in front of Rhodys, Azaleas, Laurels, Boxwoods, Arborvitae, and Ornamental Grass plantings.
|Maintenance Level||During growth and flowering, moderate maintenance is needed. You will need to start pinching or removing tip-buds after each new growth of up to 5-inch long stems. This will start in the Spring and continue through the growing season until late Summer when flower blooms start to form. Stop pinching at this time. Pinching the top leaf pair will make your plants sturdier and you could have larger flowers. Once flowering starts, only maintenance is the removal of older or spent flowers to keep plants looking fresh. Depending on your climate, possibly move potted plants close to your house or other structures to protect from freezing temperatures. Remove any dead stems or die-back the following Spring and place the pots out into the yard after the threat of frost has passed.|
|Pest Susceptibility||Susceptible to borers (in desert areas) and aphids.|
|Poisonous to Pets?||Yes, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, incoordination, and dermatitis.|
|Edible for Humans?||In general, Mum flowers and leaves can potentially cause skin irritations, scales, and blisters if you come in physical contact ( depending if you are susceptible or not). Ingestion is a different story where different flowers can be sweet to bitter used in drinks or food preparation.|
|Fun (or historical) Facts||- The Chinese city of Chu-Hsien (which means Chrysanthemum City) was so named to honor the flower.
- Mums are the birth flower for the month of November.
- Mums are revered in Japanese culture and were signified on the emperor's official seal.
- Chrysanthemum tea is very popular and considered good for curing some serious cardiac and vascular disorders.
- The petals of Chrysanthemums are often used in dishes for a pleasant aroma and a good taste.
Chrysanthemum Companion Plants
Chrysanthemums prefer the cooler temperatures and seek out similar friends.
Mums and most of the companion plants listed below will add color and a continuous supply of beneficial food sources to your landscape throughout most of the fall months when everything else has gone dormant. You really cannot go wrong with a companion for your mums. It simply boils down to your individual preference and color choice.
Companion plants to consider:
- Dusty Miller
- Ornamental grasses
Plant Care Supplies
Chrysanthemums are perfect for beginners to more experienced gardeners due to their variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. It's no wonder they are one of the favorites of the fall garden.
Now that you have learned a bit about their maintenance requirements, you need the proper tools for caring for them. This is a crucial step along your journey to great coneflower plant care, almost as important as choosing the plants themselves. The question is do you have all the tools you need?
If not, below are some recommendations to specific tools we use that will support your coneflower plant maintenance. Or, if you need to shop for other garden plants for this summer or fall, click here to find what you need!
1) For Planting
2) For Watering
You'll need some type of garden hose for your plants and this is one of the highest-rated on Amazon from Flexzilla. It is flexible, durable, and comes in multiple lengths for whatever size your yard.
Here's a huge time-saving tip, set up a drip hose and a water timer so you don't have to waste time, water, or money hand watering your plants.
We love this water timer by Orbit because it is easy to set up, has a manual override option for when you need your hose, and features two hose attachments which is awesome.
3) For Deadheading or Trimming
You will need a good, sturdy pair of pruning shears and these are the best in our opinion! These pruning shears from Corona are super sharp and stay sharp.
These would be perfect for deadheading, snipping, or other general light pruning tasks. We use ours all the time!
If you’re looking for further educational resources about all types of perennials, these books below are great educational references!
The first book is our new eBook which we’re so excited to show you! The two books below that can be found on Amazon at the links below.
If you want to create a four-season garden featuring specific, beautiful plants that bloom during specific seasons, look no further than our new book!
In Four-Season Gardening, we’ll teach you plant care tips for 15 seasonal plants and seasonal gardening tricks that could be the difference between a thriving garden and a ho-hum garden. Check it out!
This is a great reference guide for tons of plants from the American Horticultural Society.
This book has stunning images, how-tos, and planting information to grow your own cutting garden.
Or, if you need to shop for other garden plants for this summer or fall, click here to find what you need!
Chrysanthemum Plant Conclusion
As you have read above, chrysanthemums are perfect additions to your fall garden for their colorful blooms, low maintenance, and abundance of blooms.
Each fall, mums can be found decorating porches and walkways, and high school homecoming dances. They remain the most widely grown potted plant in the U.S. and are one of the longest-lasting of all the cut flowers.
Now it is time to hear from you!
What more do you want to learn about chrysanthemums? Do you have any questions that still need answering?
Leave a quick comment below and let us know!
Want to learn about other plants in your garden? Check out some of our previous plant profiles:
- Shasta Daisy: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Coneflowers: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Crocosmia: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Primroses: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Dianthus: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Grape Hyacinth: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
- Sunflowers: A Gardener's Guide and Plant Profile
See you in the garden!
~ Sean and Allison
P.P.S. Before you go, don't forget to collect your free chrysanthemum plant reference guide!
Chrysanthemum Plant References:
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