By Jerry and Gloria Alexander
Chrysanthemums or “mums,” as many of us call them, are flowering plants of the genus, Chrysanthemum, in the family of Asteraceae. They are native to East Asia and Northeastern Europe. Most species originate from East Asia and the center of diversity is in China. There are countless horticultural varieties and cultivars.
Mums are hardy perennials that are best planted in the early spring. They can be started indoors from seeds, six to eight weeks before the last spring frost date. Since they can be container grown, you may want to leave some in pots to use on your porch or patio. When you are ready to plant your mums outside, set the plants 18 to 36 inches apart, depending on their size at maturity. Mums need good air circulation. Plant them in the ground at the same depth that was grown in the pot. Otherwise, water can sit around. You want to keep them evenly moist, but not wet. Be sure to spread mulch around the base to hold moisture and keep weeds away.
Some “Mum” Facts
The genus, Chrysanthemum was first formally described by Linnaeus in 1753 with 14 species and hence, bears his name (L) as the botanical authority. As of February 2020, there are more than 40 species. Chrysanthemums normally start blooming in early autumn. It is also known as the favorite flower for the month of November. In addition to the basic yellow, you can purchase them in other colors such as white, purple and red. Chrysanthemum plants have been shown to reduce indoor air pollution by the NASA clean air study.
Lastly, mums are beautiful, hardy plants for our area. We personally cut ours back in the early spring, after the danger of the last frost and they will bloom in mid-to-late June, depending on the temperature. Early spring is also a good time to divide mums that have been in place for two years or longer. Remember, every garden should have mums for spring and fall color. You will not regret trying several colors to brighten your landscape.
Happy Gardening from the Denton County Master Gardener Association.