Gardening

Autumn Chrysanthemums – More Than Just A Pretty Potted Plant

Chrysanthemums have long been one of my absolute favorite plants to grow in the fall. Dwarf potted chrysanthemums were among the very first flowers I ever attempted to grow in my home landscape. For a novice gardener, their ease of growth and pronounced beauty was very much a celebrated success.

Mums in the Fall

Having not yet taken the plunge into the world of cut flower growing, my main objective in growing the plant was simply to add a bright burst of color to my home outdoor space. In addition to welcoming new visitors to my front porch, the potted chrysanthemums served as a much needed source of optimism as the cool, rainy days of fall approached. Beyond the very first growing season, my love of chrysanthemum plants quickly morphed from a mere interest in autumn decor, to an extensive collection of heirloom plants of varying shapes, sizes, and forms.  

Potted Mums

Potted chrysanthemum plants are celebrated for their size, and for their usefulness. Reaching a maximum of only 2 ft. (60 cm.) in height, these plants are ideal for ornamental use indoors and in small spaces. Though smaller, more compact hybrid varieties have become commonplace at garden centers and home improvement stores, diversity among chrysanthemum species is actually quite impressive. In fact, it is not uncommon for some heirloom varieties to grow to upwards of 4 ft. (1.2 m) tall, with exceptionally strong stems. For cut flower growers and chrysanthemum enthusiasts, this added height can be an attribute worthy of praise. Though growing mums can be a labor of love, the process of finding and propagating one’s own favorite chrysanthemum cultivars can be fun and exciting.

Varieties of Mums

Chrysanthemums range greatly in color. With the exception of true blue and black, gardeners are likely able to find blooms in nearly every shade. Though sometimes referred to as “football mums,” growers generally classify chrysanthemum types by the size and shape of the bloom, with each displaying flowers described as reflexed or incurved. Reflexed chrysanthemums are often compared, in form, to zinnias. Various types of incurved flower structures can vary, but must display petals which curve upwards in some way.

Heirloom chrysanthemums may also demonstrate one of several other flower shapes, as well. Among the most common are decorative, which are frequently seed in bedding varieties, and pompom. More specialty plants, like spoon types and those with spider-quill flowers, may be more difficult to obtain. 

Due to the ease at which chrysanthemums are able to be propagated, growers can quickly and efficiently multiply their plant stock at relatively little cost. Doing so each spring by taking and rooting cuttings, is a certain way to ensure large expanses of color with the arrival of cooler weather in autumn. Where hardy, each of these perennial plants can then be overwintered, with the process beginning again the following spring. Fortunately for those living outside of the plant’s growing zone, dormant plants may also be overwintered indoors, as a means to save and protect plant stock throughout the coldest months of the year.

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