Flowers Perennials

Mums – Flowers – The Crowning Glory of Fall’s Display

Bill came in from taking pictures of my flowers the other day and referring to mums  said, “As many as you have out there, you don’t have enough!”

I have recently read that chrysanthemums (mums) are one of the most popular flowers in the world, next only to the Rose.  I can see why.  For 32 years they have been the crowning glory of fall’s display in my garden and continue to amaze me at how they can perform in adverse conditions with hardly a nod from me.

New this year.   Just couldn’t be more pleased!

This new mum had moderate growth, but the blooms are exceptional.

Now is the time of year that folks enjoy buying potted mums to decorate their porches and front yards. Goodness knows I’ve bought my share in past years.  If you plant these in your borders at least 6 weeks or more before a killing frost you have a fair chance of their become established and blooming for you next year.

Your Best Investment

The best investment is to purchase mail-order mums where you are given a choice of cultivars to choose from and you will receive a single stemmed rooted cutting to be planted in the spring.  These should reward you for many years with spectacular color and bloom in the fall.

Large yellow mum just opening. New this year. All from one little rooted cutting and — in a drought year no less!


The yellow mums are fully open and the reds are just beginning.

Really have enjoyed these new red mums!

Lots of Variety

If you don’t have mums, by all means plan to include them in your budget for spring!  If you do have mums – plan to order a different variety or cultivar.  There are so many kinds and so many colors and each one puts on a different display.


Soft pink mums by the garden gate are some of the first to open.

Mums at the garden gate as they start to open.

Bloom Times

Also, many will start blooming by the end of August, some in September, some October and some as late as the first of November.  Mums hold up against light frosts and are beautiful to behold with a light frost glistening on the blossoms in the early morning.  Hard frost and freeze will do a lot of damage, but in Virginia’s tidal areas we have a good chance of mums looking great until December.

How lovely is this?

Red daisy mums with yellow centers.

Red daisy mum shown here is paired with summer poinsettia which also has a splash of red.

These little red and yellow mums are so different.

Reminds us of a sunset.

Easy to Transfer

Many of the mums that I have were moved from my prior gardens when we moved into our current home 12 years ago.  Being in a hurry to get lots of plants transferred in a short period of time, I just dug up big clumps of mums and then broke them apart before transplanting.

These came from our previous home and have bloomed beautifully every year.

They are the most beautiful yellow and are among my favorites.

Not fussy about soil.

When my borders were first started the soil in some places was very poor.  Over the years, with the decaying of the prior year’s vegetation and straw used for mulch has improved the soil.  I’ve seen no difference, however, in the performance of the mums.  They did just as well the first year as they have done in recent years.

These are so small and lovely. I especially enjoy the red buds that turn into pale pink blooms.

Good Drainage and Air Circulation

I do want to mention that all my borders have good drainage and allow for good air circulation.  These are conditions that most plants need. (Good drainage would not be necessary for  “bog area” plants of course.)


These greet visitors at our front steps.


They like at least one-half day of sun.  Most of mine get even more.

Maintenance and Starting New Plants

In late winter or early spring when I’m looking at my borders with an eye for the coming season, I cut back last season’s foliage. If I cut before this, I leave the cuttings on top of the roots as a protection from winter cold.

If they have overspread their designated area, I pull some up from the outside edge. These pieces can be planted in areas where I want more of this mum.  Works great and keeps things easy ——taking even less time than cuttings.

If the center of the clump has become too woody, I just pull it up. This will rejuvenate the clump and I don’t have to take up the entire thing and divide it.

It’s been a long time since I bought the original plant, but I think these are korean mums. They are one of my best performing mum.

The foliage is as wonderful as the bloom.  Looking at these mums you’d never believe there was a severe drought this summer.

WARNING: the following information is NOT popular.  More than likely you won’t find it elsewhere.  When I do it, it makes my husband  cringe. In spite of all that —–it has worked for me for 32 years and has worked for anyone who has followed my example.

It keeps the plants from getting too tall and leggy.  Here it is:

  • When my mum foliage is looking fantastic in the spring and is up about 8 to 12 to 15 inches –  I cut it to the ground!
  • Then when it recovers and is looking great again —- usually sometime in June —-cut it by half again.
  • (I never cut after the end of June or first of July since I would run the risk of cutting off developing flower buds.)

By the time “ready to open” buds cover the plants, the stalks have lots of branches and buds and they are only about 2 or 3 feet tall.  (My new large-blossomed mums were about 3 1/2 feet tall.)

Of course, when you first plant your single stemmed rooted cuttings, you’ll leave them untouched until the second season.

Another note that may benefit you:

In prior years of drought it has never seemed to effect the mums.  This year — since the mums literally stopped growing and many wilted —- I wondered if this would be the first year in 32 years that the mums would be less than beautiful.  Well, as you can see by the pictures included here, they were spectacular — even more so than in past years!

One last thing I noticed about this years blooms ——-a result of the drought, I think —-they were not covered with various insect life as they usually are. No bugs at all in August or September.  Very few in October, but now they seem to be increasing a little bit.  The only damage these various bugs do is make little holes in the petals or brown spots on them.  If I make arrangements, I have to be selective, but other than that its not a problem for me. They still beautify my borders just fine.

Plan to add different mums each year.  You might discover what Bill found to be true is true for you as well: “As many mums as you have out there, you don’t have enough!

These small light yellow mums with a blush of rose open first in my front border.

This mum by our parking area gets a lot of abuse especially in the winter, but never fails to perform.

An old picture from years ago showing Bill and me in front of our then limited  fall mums.

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  • What a finale. They are absolutely fabulous!!!. I love the picture of you and Bill. I can’t get over your Mums. That first pale pink is to die for. But they are all gorgeous. I mainly have one kind-the Hillside Mum. I’ll send you a picture. Bees love them and are all over them everyday, even butterflies. I’m definitely going to plant more and take your trimming advice.
    Thanks for a great article. We have had 3 frosts but not much damage yet.

  • Hi Beppy,

    I love that first pale pink as well. It’s definitely one of the most beautiful I’ve seen.

    My favorites for making a show in the landscape are the sun yellow ones – both the daisy mums and powder puff ones. They are brilliant even from far away. (They would just glow where you are with those beautiful mountains as a back drop!)

    It seems that bees and butterflies love my daisy mums especially.

    I sure am looking forward to the picture of your Hillside Mum.

    No frost here yet. I harvested half bushel of tomatoes yesterday and about 2 dozen peppers. I have a feeling we will get frost by next week.

    Sure glad you enjoyed the article.

    All my best,

  • What a beautiful garden! You and Bill do a fantastic job with the pictures and articles. Thanks for sharing your talents with us.

  • I would like to know more about mums. We have a youth garden in Baltimore, Md. and we teach at risk youth how to garden. Can you grow mums from seed?

  • Yes you can grow them from seed. They may not be true to the parent plant but it would be fun for the kids to be surprised with what they get.

  • What is the name of the first blush pink one? I am doing a wedding and this colour matches perfectly.

    Beautiful flowers.

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