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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Flowers > Growing petunias

Garden chrysanthemums

Mary H. Meyer, Neil Anderson and R. E. Widmer

Copyright © 2013 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Chrysanthemums, or "mums," are popular perennials. They offer a wide variety of flower colors, from white and cream to dark maroon and burgundy, as well as numerous growth habits from small dwarf plants to giant shrub-like Maxi-MumsTM. Mums are easy to grow and can provide years of enjoyment if care is taken to select an appropriate variety; plant in a sunny, well drained, location; and provide winter protection.

Planting Time

Plant chrysanthemums in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Small plants derived from rooted cuttings, divisions, or rooted suckers of old plants can be used. Larger container plants purchased from garden centers may be planted anytime during the spring, summer, or early fall.

Soil, Site, and Fertilizer

Garden chrysanthemums grow best in a variety of soils but must have excellent drainage conditions. Growth is poor and winterkill likely in poorly drained wet soils. Sunny locations are good sites. Plants in semishady locations will be taller, have weaker stems, and bloom later in the fall. Incorporate 2 - 4" of peat moss, compost, or well-rotted barnyard manure into the soil. If you use only peat moss or do not add organic matter, apply 3 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet of a complete fertilizer such as 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 in the spring. Sidedressing plants with a complete fertilizer in early August, especially in years of abundant rainfall or irrigation, also is recommended. If the fertilizer applied in the spring is a slowly available type, such as coated or organic fertilizer, the second application may not be necessary. Space plants 18 - 24" apart, depending on the mature size of the cultivar.

Cultivar Selection

The University of Minnesota has introduced numerous hardy, attractive garden mums over the last 50 years (see listing below). Early blooming cultivars assure flowering before frost. Late blooming cultivars may fail to bloom before damaging or killing frosts.

Pinching

Mums maintain a bushy compact plant form if pinched or pruned regularly. Although newer cultivars do not require pinching, the traditional method has been to pinch out the tip to induce branching and produce stockier plants. Repeat pinching on side branches when they have grown 6". Continue pinching until mid-June for early flowering varieties, late June for September flowering varieties, and early July for October varieties. Complete pinching by July 4 to assure flowering prior to frost. Very high summer temperatures may also delay flowering. Most mum flowers are resistant to frost; Centerpiece is especially frost-tolerant.

Summer Care

Water plants regularly if the summer is dry or if soil is light and sandy. Wet soil to a depth of 6 - 8". Apply 2 - 3" of mulch such as grass clippings, compost, or shredded leaves to conserve soil moisture and reduce weeds.

Insect and Disease Control

Several diseases and insects attack mums. Prevention of many of them can be done by following these recommendations:

Typical problems on mums include verticillium wilt, septoria leaf spot, powdery mildew, aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, leafminers, and spider mites. Before using a pesticide, diagnose problems carefully and correctly. Contact your local county Extension office for further information.

Lack of Flowering

Lack of flowering is occasionally a problem with mums. Possible causes include wrong cultivar selection; insufficient sun, fertilizer, or water; late pinching; root competition from nearby trees and shrubs; unusually hot weather (especially nights) in August, unusually cold weather in late August and September; and insect, or disease injury.

Overwintering

Mums vary widely in cold hardiness. Cultivars listed in the table below have been developed based on years of plant breeding at the University of Minnesota. These plants have been selected for superior flower characteristics, growth habit, and winter hardiness. Most will survive winters in Minnesota. Florist mums, sold throughout the year in supermarkets and greenhouses, may not survive Minnesota winters, and if they do, will probably not flower before hard frosts. Proper location (good drainage and protection from winter winds) and a winter mulch of 4 - 6" of shredded leaves, hay, straw, or evergreen branches applied as soon as the soil surface freezes is critical to winter survival.

Division

Plants can be dug and divided in spring as new growth begins. Stronger shoots are usually on the outside of the clump. Set the growing tip of each division just below ground level. For an attractive display of color, plant at least three shoots in a triangular pattern.

Florist Mums

Attractive blooming potted plants are available through-out the year from florists. After flowers fade, plants can be cut back to 3 or 4 inches and planted in the garden. Florist mums may overwinter, but usually flower too late for USDA Zone 4.

Availability

Minnesota mums may be found at many garden centers and nurseries in late summer and fall. Look for variety names on each plant. Licensed propagators include: Dooley Gardens, 210 North High Drive NE, Hutchinson, MN 55350 (320/587-3050); Mums for Minnesota, 3135 227th Street East, Fairbault, MN 55021 (507/334-6220), or Spring Hill Nurseries Co., 6523 North Galena Road, Peoria, IL 61632 (320/691-4610).

Additional Information

As new mum cultivars are introduced, the University of Minnesota Experiment Station often publishes a color brochure of each new plant. See the University of Minnesota Extension Service for the most recent publications on garden mums.

Recommended University of Minnesota Chrysanthemum Varieties

Variety

Flower color

Flower description

Height**

Time of bloom***

Autumn Fire

Burnt orange

3 ½" decorative

Tall

Midseason

Betty Lou Maxi-mumTM

Red

2 ½" button

Medium
30" spread

Early
Early

Burnt Copper

Orange bronze

3" double pompon

Tall

Midseason

Centennial Sun

Golden yellow

1 ½" double decorative

Medium

Early

Centerpiece

Rose lavender, gold centers

4" quill

Tall

Early to midseason

Dr. Longley

Bright rose pink

3" flat, decorative

Medium

Early to midseason

Gold Country

Peachy bronze to golden yellow

4" double, decorative

Tall

Midseason

Golden Jubilee

Deep gold

3" decorative

Medium

Early

Golden Star

Rich deep yellow

3 ½" single spoon

Medium

Early

Goldstrike

Golden yellow

2" pompon

Medium

Early

Grape Glow

Bright rosy purple

3 ½" flat decorative

Medium

Midseason

Inca

Light bronze orange

2" double button

Low

Early

Lemonsota

Lemon yellow

1" pompon

Low

Midseason

Lindy

Lavender pink

4 ½" quilled incurve

Tall

Midseason

Maroon Pride

Dark red

3 ½" flat, decorative

Medium

Early

Mellow Moon

Cream

4 ½" semi-incurved decorative

Medium

Midseason

MinnAutumn*

Reddish bronze

2 ½" formal decorative

Low

Midseason

Minnglow

Light lemon yellow

2 ¼" decorative

Low

Midseason

Minngopher

Crimson red

2 ¼" decorative

Low

Late

Minnpink

Rose pink

1 ½" flat, decorative

Low

Early

Minnqueen

Bright rose pink

3" decorative

Low-medium

Midseason

Minnrose

Deep rose pink

1 ½" pompon

Low

Midseason

Minnruby

Ruby red

2 ¼" decorative

Low

Midseason

Minnwhite

White

2" decorative

Low

Early

Minnyellow

Rich lemon yellow

2" decorative

Low

Late

Rose Blush

Mauve

2 - 3" decorative

Low-medium

Midseason

Rosy Glow

Deep rosy pink

4" decorative incurved

Medium

Midseason

Royal Knight

Burgundy, silver underside

3 ½" reflexed decorative

Tall

Midseason

Royal Pomp

Bright purple

2" pompon-spicy fragrance

Medium

Midseason

Snowscape

White, purple tips

3' semi-double decorative

Low

Early

Snowsota

White, cream centers

1 ½" pompom

Low

Midseason

Wayzata

Bright yellow

3" flat, decorative

Tall

Early

Wendy Ann

Fawn yellow

4" semi-spoon

Medium

Early

Yellow Glow

Rich yellow

2 ¾" decorative

Tall

Midseason

Zonta

Apricot bronze

2 ½" pompon

Medium

Midseason

* Names beginning with Minn indicate cushion habit of growth.

** Low: up to 12 inches; medium: 12 - 18 inches; tall: over 18 inches. These measurements refer to first-year plants properly spaced and grown in full sun.

*** Early: starts blooming before September 1; midseason: September 1 - 15; late: September 15 on (Twin Cities Area).

Mary H. MeyerExtension Horticulturist
Neil Anderson, Research Associate
R.E. Widmer, Professor
Department of Horticultural Science

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