Get a late-season dose of beauty from autumn’s most reliable flower
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Rethinking the mighty mum
Chrysanthemums, or mums, get a bad rap—and for good reason. The two most common types—bright white or yellow filler flowers sold at the grocery store or gaudy mounds of small-flowered garden mums that hit the nurseries as soon as temps cool—border on obnoxious. But there’s a whole world of specialty mums that will have you rethinking your resistance to this awesome late-season bloomer.
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With long lateral branches, this anemone-type mum is makes an excellent cut flower. Grow it for ribbon-like fuchsia petals edged in white with a lime green center.
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This decorative mum blooms in shade of coral and apricot. A charmer, indeed, this cultivar lasts a long time in a vase.
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‘Vesuvio’—an anemone form of mum—is a great cultivar for creative florists. It’s easy to get lost staring at the white bloom with a single row of outside tubular petals.
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This is a spoon chrysanthemum—flower form as single daisies with spooned tips. ‘Red Twig’ is eye-catching with a bright yellow center and dark crimson tips.
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The threadlike pink petals are a clear giveaway that ‘Natalini’ is a spider mum—the most exotic of all types.
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Pompons forms, such as bright lime ‘Feeling Green’ grow heaps of blooms that seem to mesh well in almost any bouquet.
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Another spider mum, ‘Mocha’ unfurls dusty mauve petals to reveal bright burgundy tips.
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A smaller spoon type, look closely to see that pale tubes give way to bright yellow tips.
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With a color somewhere between champagne and peach, we’re in love with ‘River City’. Its form is that of irregular incurve—the giants of the chrysanthemum family.
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We’re all about this full white, long lasting spider mum. It looks great in a mixed bouquet or in a vase of its own.
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Decorative types, like pinkish purple ‘Annie Girl’, present beautiful open blooms, making them perfect in mixed bouquets.
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As a regular incurve, ‘Le Mans’ forms a complete ball. We fell hard for its large, light pink perfect form.
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‘Fleur De Lis’
‘Fleur De Lis’, a light purple bloomer, is one of the best large spiders on the market. Expect hundreds of fine lacy petals spilling into a graceful arch
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‘Fort Smith’ is an irregular incurve with large golden blooms. Flowers grow on particularly strong stems, making them perfect for the garden or the vase.
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Being an exotic- or unclassified-form, ‘Lone Star’ blooms in an angelic pure white.
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This reflex-form blooms in a rich apricot color. Strong stems make it ideal for the garden bed or the vase.
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‘Saga No Yuki’
‘Saga No Yuki’ is an example for a brush and thistle form. These flowers don’t open flat, but rather stay in a brush shape, resembling a thistle flower. This white cultivar plays particularly well with others.
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‘Wisp of Pink’
This brush and thistle form blooms a cheery pink.
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An intermediate incurve, ‘Tropez’ flowers have deep crimson tops and bronze undersides—a lovely fall palette.
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Plant in spring: Though famous for their fall blooms, mums—particularly these florist varieties—need to be established in spring. Order cuttings in spring from a reliable source, such as King Mums (link to https://www.kingsmums.com/index.php)
Rich soil: Plant mums in well-amended soil. Add several handfuls of compost at planting time.
Full sun: For optimal blooming, plant mums in a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct light.
Regular water: Mums have shallow roots, making regular water a necessity.
Pinch back: Remove the tips of stems to encourage branching. Repeat every two weeks until mid-July. (Garden mums—purchased as annuals in late summer—do not require pinching.
Winter survival: In harsh winter areas, mulch mum beds with evergreen branches to help plants survive the freeze-thaw cycles.