Chrysanthemums, commonly referred to as mums, are popular perennial flowering plants typically planted for their strikingly beautiful autumn blooms. A wide range of varieties are available, categorized according to the shape and arrangement of their flower petals. Blooms are available in a spectrum of colors, including whites, reds, purples, oranges, and yellows. Typically, Chrysanthemums are placed in masses, along borders, or, if grown specifically for flower cuttings, in neat garden rows.
Chrysanthemums can be propagated by cuttings, root division, or by seed, though home gardeners usually purchase Chrysanthemums from commercial greenhouses ready for planting. Typically, commercially available varieties of Chrysanthemum are quite hardy and can survive through the winter. However, when mums are purchased in full bloom and subsequently planted into a garden, they do not have the time or the energy to develop a strong root system before the cold of winter, meaning such plants are unlikely to survive. Thus, for best results, you should purchase your new Chrysanthemum plants in the spring, which gives them plenty of time to establish themselves before the blooming season even begins.
Ideally, it’s best to plant your Chrysanthemums in spring, around mid-May (depending on your local climate). They prefer a site with a good amount of direct sun and a well-drained, rich garden soil with plenty of organic matter. A slightly acid soil is best, but not essential. Just before planting, apply a 10-10-10 fertilizer to the site at a rate of five pounds per 100 square feet. A second application can be cultivated into the soil in midsummer. Plant your Chrysanthemums 18 to 24 inches apart.
To induce a more compact, bushy growth habit, remove, or “pinch,” any existing flower buds from the plant. Continue this through the summer until the first week of August when you can allow the buds to develop for fall blooming.
Water the plants regularly to a depth of five or six inches. Allow the soil dry somewhat between watering, as frequent, light watering will retard root depth and create prime conditions for several diseases.
To protect the plant against winter conditions, lay mulch to a depth of four to six inches in early winter.