Dictionary of Flowers: Chrysanthemum, Hardy Species (Garden Mum, Hardy Mum)

Chrysanthemum is the classic wedding buttonhole flower. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Costel Slincu and Flickr
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Chrysanthemum is the classic wedding buttonhole flower. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Costel Slincu and Flickr

  • Chrysantemum, Hardy Species
  • Common name: garden mum, hardy mum
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Category: Perennial in USDA zones 5-10, depending on varieties
  • Height: varies by species
  • Width: varies by species
  • Sun
  • Blooms: late summer to mid fall
  • Attracts: butterflies, bees
  • Growth habit: upright, mounding. Grown as a filler in containers
  • Maintenance: medium
  • Soil: average to fertile ,free draining. Water regularly if grown in containers
  • Garden uses: containers, mixed border, beds, cutting garden, 
  • Diseases:  leaf spot, rust, wilt, fungal disease
  • Pests: aphids, mites, leaf miners

A popular perennial to use in the garden, because it blooms when very little else is blooming, during the last part of the growing season.

Hardy mums have daisy like blooms that can be single, double, pompom-like, cushion shaped, button shaped, even spider-like varieties.

Flower size ranges between one and six inches. Flower colors range from white, beige, yellows, reds, bronze and pink. 

They prefer a sunny spot with average to fertile soil that is neutral to alkaline. Good drainage and air circulation prevents diseases that affect mums, so water regularly but don't overwater.

Amending the soil with compost at planting time helps improve the soil's drainage. Feed mums monthly with a formula low in nitrogen until flower buds develop.

It's best to plant mums in spring, to allow them to form a good root system before they bloom. To encourage bushiness and to promote flowering, mums need to be pinched back as soon as they are about six inches.

Stop by July 1st, to give them time to produce fall blooms. In fall, cut plants down. Cover the plant with a soft mulch and wait till spring to remove it.

Stunning bi-color Garden Mum. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Gabrielle Ludlow and Flickr
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Stunning bi-color Garden Mum. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Gabrielle Ludlow and Flickr

Mums can be propagated by seed, by cutting or division. Divide clumps every two to three years in spring. The divisions can be planted straight away to give them time to root and bloom.

Cuttings can be taken in early summer. Dip the end in rooting hormone and insert into moist, loose potting soil. Cover with a plastic bag and place in shade. The cutting should root in about a month. When roots have grown, plant in its permanent spot.

If growing mums from seed, sow indoors in  late winter or early spring. When kept at about 70-75F, seeds germinate in about two weeks. Place the seedlings in a position where they will get light for about ten hours a day.

Transplant seedlings into larger pots as they grow larger four to six true leaves. Harden off and plant when danger of frost has passed. The seedlings should be ready to go into their permanent spot in three months from planting time. 

Hardy Mums will survive tough winter climates to be perennials. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Shenghung Lin and Flickr
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Hardy Mums will survive tough winter climates to be perennials. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Shenghung Lin and Flickr

Mums can suffer diseases if grown in adverse conditions. Poor drainage and lack of adequate air circulation can cause fungal disease.

Remove affected parts and treat with fungicide as needed. If affected by wilt, remove plant, discard and do not plant in the same area. Use systemic insecticide to control pest attacks.




There is a huge range of size, color and shape in the chrysanthemum family. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Shubert Ciencia and Flickr
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There is a huge range of size, color and shape in the chrysanthemum family. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Shubert Ciencia and Flickr

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