Scientific Name: Chrysanthemum
Common Name: Fall Mum, Hardy Mum, Garden Mum
Common Colors: White, pink, yellow, violet, green, orange
Plant Type: Flowering Shrub
Annual or Perennial: Available as both, usually Annuals
Hardiness Zone: 3-9 USDA
Bloom Season: Summer through Early Winter
Grows Best In: Full Sun
Fun Fact: Mums are edible and often used to make tea! (But always confirm no pesticides or chemicals have been used on your plant before consuming!)
Mums are probably the flower or plant most associated with the Fall season and cooler weather. In late August and early September, Mums can be found in just about any grocery store, garden center, and even hardware stores. While mums come in both Annual and Perennial varieties, most often the mums found in these locations are grown to be used as annuals. They are grown and cultivated for their bright colors and their neat shape, and as a result their root systems can be weaker than a mum grown to be planted in the ground to return year after year. For this reason, most mums are best suited for seasonal displays in planters, or even in more creative containers such as hollowed out pumpkins.
While they may not come back year after year (though, with proper care and planting it’s certainly possible!) they will remain quite sturdy as the temperatures begin to drop in the Fall, long after other plants have begun to fade and wilt. Paired with other cooler-season plants like snapdragons, Ornamental Kale or Cabbage, and pansies, these happy little cousins of the daisy can create a beautiful display of color and shape that will last well into the first cold snaps of winter. Mums should be kept well-watered, but not soggy. You can let the top few inches of soil dry out between waterings, but try to avoid allowing the mums to begin to wilt or they may never be as full and strong and bright as they were before.
Fall mums will survive in temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit. If snow falls, cover the mums to protect the blossoms from damage. Mums can also tolerate heat up to 100 degrees, but they will need to be kept well-watered and would do better in some shade during times of extreme heat. To keep blooms coming regularly throughout the blooming season, remove spent blossoms at the base of the head. Mums can also be shaped as they grow to give them a well-rounded form by pinching the stems to achieve the shape desired.
Mums will do well as cut flowers in arrangements, and can be lovely when paired with other Fall flowers like sunflowers, rustic bare sticks and branches, and some copper twinkle lights. In the United States, mums tend to symbolize optimism, joy, and longevity. Mums are November’s flower of the month, and are generally known to be deer-resistant. Mums are fantastic flowers for drying and pressing, as well.