While most flowers struggle as the days get shorter and temperatures get colder, mums thrive, adding color to people’s lives in the fall. Mums are the perfect flowers for fall because they not only tolerate this time of year, but also they prefer it. Mums are photoperiodic, meaning they bloom because the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Placement too close to a street light or bright porch light can keep these flowers from reaching their full potential.
Chrysanthemums are daisy-like flowers that sometimes have yellow centers. While some varieties have a single row of petals around the center, others are so ruffled that the center is hidden, making the flowers look like pom poms. This bloom got it’s name from the Greek prefix “chrys-” meaning golden, this flower’s original color, and “-anthemion,” meaning flower.
These fall flowers symbolise optimism, joy, and beauty. In Japan there is an annual Festival of Happiness to celebrate this flower. It is also November’s official flower of the month.
There are many types of mums, including annual and perennial varieties. There are two general types: florist mums, also known as cutting mums, and hardy mums, also known as garden mums. Florist mums are larger, produce fewer flower heads and are grown indoors. Garden mums are smaller, produce many tightly packed colorful flower heads and thrive outdoors during fall.
Spider mums are more exotic and tropical looking than classic garden mums. Hardy like garden mums, spider mums have long tubular petals that are sometimes hooked or curved at the ends. The long skinny petals, botanically known as florets, dangle loosely from the center, making the flower heads resemble spiders.
Mums come in a rainbow of color choices including our favorite colors of fall. Burgundy, gold, orange, and cream pair perfectly with pumpkins, gourds and other fall decor.
All varieties of chrysanthemum originated from the same golden-yellow parent mum in China 3,500 years ago. These flowers were originally used as herbs by the Chinese, boiling roots as a headache remedy. Sprouts and petals were also used for salads to add color as well as floral notes.
Mums symbolize lasting friendships that really mean something to you. This flower should be given as a gift to someone you truly love to show them you’ll be there for them no matter what. They also generally symbolize longevity, fidelity, joy and optimism.
In Australia, mums are the traditional flower gift for moms on Mother's Day. Most Australians use the word “mum” instead of “mom,” making mums a perfect flower to celebrate this holiday.
In Texas, chrysanthemum corsages have been given by gentlemen to their homecoming dates since the 1950s. Back then, a single flower was decorated with ribbon making it larger but relatively small since it was built around a small garden mum flower. Over time, things got bigger and bigger, with today’s corsages practically unwearable, made from huge luxury artificial mums and heavily adorned with everything imaginable. Today’s Texan homecoming mums have many very long silk ribbons and other large components including teddy bears, flashing lights or even air horns!
When shopping for live mums, it is best to buy them when you see a little color in the buds. This is favorable to an already mature plant in full bloom because it will last longer. You can typically count on mums to continue flowering through Thanksgiving if cared for properly.
Whether planting mums indoors or outdoors, these blooms prefer well drained soil. When planting in pots, drainage holes are a must. When planting in the ground, plant the mums two inches above the ground to promote thorough draining that will let the roots dry out.
Chrysanthemums tell us that even into the beginning of winter, there can be joy and beauty. They encourage us to support our friends and those we love, especially when they need it most!