Chrysanthemums: An Underused Fall Perennial

ChrysanthemumsIf you think chrysanthemums are only the daisy-like, yellow flowers in pots that are regularly seen at big-box stores September through fall, you would be surprised to see what they can really look like.

The big-box stores sell mums that are forced to flower in a greenhouse. Sometimes when you buy them and put them on your porch, they dry up and die quickly because they were grown in a greenhouse and were not hardened off to our local weather.

This happened to me one year and I decided I needed more information.

ChrysanthemumsI discovered the Kitsap County Chrysanthemum Society a few years ago and like the other specialty plant groups in our area, its members are helpful with finding hardy mums and sharing knowledge about how to grow mums successfully. They have a mum and other plant sale every year around Mother’s Day.

There is a wide range of modern forms of mums available for addition to your perennial garden. You may have seen photos of the large, round “football” mums available from florists for homecoming football games in the 1960s. That large, single flower is certainly one form you can grow in our area, but they need a lot of pinching and other care to grow such a large flower.

ChrysanthemumsGarden mums provide a nice fall display when most other perennials are at the end of their season. I have grown them from starter plants in pots and just bring them out to display during their flowering season. Some gardeners plant them directly in the perennial bed where they are a focal point when other plants are cut down.

My plants include colors from white to pink and mauve, while other flowers are in the yellow, gold and russet color families.

Chrysanthemums are an easy perennial to grow; add some to your garden next spring and you will be rewarded when all your other flowers have faded.