Garden mums should be in every garden for that last blast of color before the first freeze withers everything. One of the last plants to bloom before frost, I savor the blowsy colorful flowers that come in a range of reds, oranges, and pinks. Attracting many pollinators as they are the few things that are still blooming, I always expect the bees and butterflies to cover them.
Forget the florist mums in a large plastic pot that you set on your front porch and throw away when it is a dried desiccated plant corpse. I am talking about garden mums that are tough perennials, grow in the ground, are hardy, and make great fresh cuts.
I use the florist mums, the huge ones in plastic pots for fall displays, but in the garden, I prefer the ‘garden mums’ which are extremely hardy and are the lifeblood of my honeybees when they are starving for nectar in October and November.
Deer resistant only until the plant starts to form buds, and then the deer will clear cut them! So, if you have deer, start to spray the plants when they set their flower buds.
The reason I don’t see many garden mums at people’s properties, is they are a hard sell in the spring when most people visit the nursery to buy their flowering annuals and perennials. The garden mum foliage is barely growing out of the pot in the spring, and shoppers pass on to something that is blooming and beautiful.
Hardy garden mums put out stolons. Florist mums put out few or no stolons and are less likely to over-winter in cold regions. If you aren’t a plant geek, ‘stolons’ are a creeping horizontal plant stem or runner that takes root at points along its length to form new plants. So, If you plant a garden mum expect it to travel a bit and make a great showing when it finally blooms in the fall.
The plants’ late blooming period makes them a must-have in the North and Mid-Atlantic fall garden. Mine are in full bloom right now in late October going into November and will last all month long.
- Botanical Name: Chrysanthemum morifolium
- Common Name: Hardy mums, garden mums
- Plant Type: Perennial
- Mature Size: About 2 feet high (but varies by cultivar)
- Sun Exposure: Full sun
- Soil Type: Well-drained, evenly moist, and rich
- Soil pH: Slightly acidic to neutral
- Bloom Time: October into November
- Flower Color: Yellow, Orange, all shades of pink, red
- Hardiness Zones: 3 to 9
- Native Area: Asia and northeastern Europe