April 21, 2024
How to grow chrysanthemums: expert advice |

Chrysanthemums – mums, as they are often known – are perennial members of the daisy family and one of the most striking plants for late summer and early fall. At their simplest, the flowers are like huge daisies with a ring of long, flat narrow petals, surrounding a button of tiny yellow petals. From this simple start, many different flower forms have developed, most of which are based on those tiny yellow petals in the center taking on the shape of the petals in the ring around the edge.

Chrysanthemums vary in their hardiness, from being winter hardy in our coldest zones to needing frost protection through the winter. Some are grown as hardy perennials to add color and brightness to flower bed ideas. Some make neat domes of color, ideal for planting in containers. Some are grown specifically as cutting garden flowers, either outdoors or in the protection of hoop houses or a greenhouse. Some enthusiasts keep up the tradition of growing chrysanthemums for competitive showing.

These low-maintenance plants are particularly useful for giving a garden a boost during the fall months, as points out the experts at White Flower Farm (opens in new tab). ‘These fuss-free perennials produce tidy, dense mounds of spectacular color at a time when many plants are waning.’

Green and white chrysanthemum flowers

Chrysanthemums come in many colors and the white and green varieties create a cool but stunning show

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos / thrillerfillerspiller)

Graham Rice
Graham Rice

Graham Rice is a garden writer who has won awards for his work online, and in books and magazines, on both sides of the Atlantic. He is a member of a number of Royal Horticultural Society committees and the recipient of the 2021 Garden Media Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Chrysanthemums key facts

  • Plant type: Hardy and half-hardy perennial
  • Mature size: 1-4ft
  • Soil type: Fertile, well-drained
  • Soil pH: Slightly acid, neutral, slightly alkaline
  • Time to plant: Spring
  • Flowering time: Summer, fall
  • Flower color: All except blue
  • Hardiness zones: USDA Z3-8
  • Scientific name: Chrysanthemum
  • Common name: Mums

red upright flowers of the chrysanthemum variety ‘Brennpunkt’

‘Brennpunkt’ is a robust, upright variety of chrysanthemum and produces warm red flowers

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos / Ernie Janes )

Different kinds of chrysanthemums

  • Garden chrysanthemums: Garden mums are grown as hardy perennials, outside in the flower garden. They vary in their winter hardiness so it pays to match the hardiness of the variety to your own hardiness zone. The experts at Portland Nursery (opens in new tab) say: ‘The most popular chrysanthemums are the ones known as garden mums. These robust beauties bring color to the late summer or fall garden when it needs it most. Garden mums are low maintenance, carefree, inexpensive, instant fillers in a range of vibrant colors.’
  • Cut flower chrysanthemums: If you want a cut flower garden, chrysanthemums are a wonderful addition. They make long-lasting cut flowers and are widely grown, either in the open or under protection. Those sold in grocery stores are often imported, but more are now being grown at home. To cut flowers for the vase, use sharp, clean snips, such as these Growneer ones from Amazon (opens in new tab), and always clean the sap off the blades after use.
  • Pot chrysanthemums: These are dome-shaped plants grown as specimens for stunning displays in the fall. Set them out on the sides of steps and along garden paths, and on the deck, or patio. Or, use them as part of your porch decor. They give weeks of consistent color and are then composted at the end of the season.
  • Show chrysanthemums: These are varieties grown specifically for entering into competitions at flower shows. Varieties are chosen from among other types or, more often, developed specifically for showing using special growing techniques.

Chrysanthemums and a pumpkin create a Halloween display

Use chrysanthemums to make a colorful potted display

(Image credit: Alamy Stock Photos / Island Images)

How to choose chrysanthemums