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Mums the Word

One of the great things about the Fall season is that it presents the opportunity to enjoy the vivid color of chrysanthemums, helping gardeners to achieve four-season interest in their gardens. Chrysanthemum flowers are also a favorite of florists for arrangements, due to the longevity of their blooms. Chrysanthemums were cultivated in China as a flowering herb as far back as the 15th century BC. The flower was introduced into Japan in the 8th century AD, and the Emperor adopted the flower as his official seal. Today there is still a “Festival of Happiness” in Japan celebrating the flower. Mums were brought to Europe in the 17th century and the rest of the world has enjoyed them ever since.

Modern chrysanthemums are much more showy than their wild relatives. The flowers occur in many flower forms, and can be daisy-like, decorative, pompons or buttons. Chrysanthemums come in a wide variety of colors, including white, off-white, yellow, gold, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple.

Chrysanthemum plants can grow to be 2-3 feet high, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. There are “hardy mums” and “florist mums.” Hardy mums put out stolons. Florist mums put out few or no stolons, which makes them less likely to over-winter in cold regions.

Mums look best planted in a mass–but for good health don’t overcrowd them, since good air circulation reduces the chance of disease.

Plant chrysanthemum flowers in full sun and well-drained soil, enriched with a soil conditioner. Chrysanthemums are “photoperiodic,” meaning they bloom in response to the shorter days and longer nights experienced in Fall. Therefore, do not plant chrysanthemum flowers near street lights or night lights: the artificial lighting may wreak havoc with the chrysanthemums’ cycle.

We invite you to visit us and take some hardy mums home for your garden to brighten up your autumn garden. Chrysanthemums also make great housewarming gifts–and your friends will thank you for thinking about them. So remember, mum’s the word!