Mums-Thousands-FBChange of the seasons is one of my favorites of Mother Nature’s miracles. Fall, with all of its colorful foliage, cool crisp nights and shorter days lets us know winter is just down the road. As an avid gardener, it has a lot to offer in planting of mums and other beautiful fall flowers, plants and bulbs.

The wonderful and versatile chrysanthemum, aka mum, has been around since the 15th century. Cultivated in China as a flowering herb and used in Japan’s Festival of Happiness, it has been celebrated by many cultures. The name “chrysanthemum” is derived from the Greek works chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower). Native to Asia and Northeastern Europe, there are over 40 species, and there are thousands of horticultural varieties and cultivars. It’s the official flower of Chicago and Salinas, Calif.  This flower of the month of November was brought to the United States in 1798, by Colonel John Stevens from England as a part of an effort to grow attractions within Elysian Field in Hoboken, N.J. 

PansiesLoveMums-FBModern cultivated mums are much showier and more colorful than their wild ancestors. Colors run the gamut of traditional yellows to reds. Purples, bronzes, whites, greens and oranges are quite popular. Petal shapes and flower sizes ensure you get the perfect choice for your taste in your garden, available in packs, pots, bushel baskets and even hanging baskets.

Some species are used in culinary applications, and known to flavor wines and teas in many Asian countries. They have been widely used as a natural source of insecticides and beneficial in reducing indoor air pollution.

There are two basic groups of chrysanthemums. The garden hardy mum and the florist mum. The hardy garden mum is a tough perennial that is capable of overwintering in our coldest climates. It grows during the summer months and blooms in the fall. The exhibition varieties, or florist mums, are not as hardy and are used as beautiful decorations year around.

Viola-Cabbage-FBPlant garden mums in a sunny location with good drainage. Amend heavy soils with peat moss or compost to ensure good root growth. A good tip is to plant it 1” deeper than it was in the pot and mulch generously. Trim off the previous year’s stems as soon as the spring growth begins to show.

Complement your chrysanthemums with other great fall flowers and plants. Pansies, asters, violas, and ornamental kale/cabbage love hanging out with mums. Also, it’s the perfect time to dig in your tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus for next spring’s show. Visit your local independent garden center for the best information and quality of flowers and plants available for your region.