UF/IFAS Okeechobee County Extension Service

458 Highway 98 North

Okeechobee, FL 34972-2578

Phone: (863) 763-6469

E- mail:  dfculbert@ifas.ufl.edu

November 15,   2006

Quick Links:   Colorful Mums    Potted plants    Re-Growing Plants    References    
Feature Article - for release the week of November 9, 2006

Dan Culbert - Extension Horticulture Agent

 Mumís the Word for Thanksgiving Color 

Picture the traditional Thanksgiving Diner table, and most folks will see a beautiful floral arrangement or centerpiece.  A popular fall flower found on holiday tables, near doorsteps and in fall seasonal bouquets is the Chrysanthemum.  This daisy-like flower comes in many different colors and shapes.

Photo: NY Botanical Garden

Thanksgiving Craft: Pilgrim Hat Centerpiece  Photo: Wikpedia.com 

While dedicated gardeners may be able to grow them in their Florida Yard, Chrysanthemums, better known as mums, may be grown as seasonal potted plants or used in cut flower arrangements.  Todayís column is adapted from former UF Horticulture Specialist Dr. Bob Black and from Orange County Horticulture Agent Tom MacCubbin.

Colorful Chrysanthemums

The chrysanthemum is one of the most colorful of all fall flowering perennials.  Wide selections of varieties are available in colors ranging from white, pink, yellow, lavender, bronze, salmon, orange, or red.  In addition, Mums vary greatly in type and size. One of the most popular flower types is the single or daisy form.  Other flower types are anemone, spoon, spider, standard, and pompon.

Common Chrysanthemum Flower Forms - Courtesy Yoder Bothers Nursery
Button Daisy Decorative Pompon Spider Spoon Tip

Chrysanthemum varieties are also chosen based on their use.  Varieties grown for cut flowers and football corsages (e.g. pom-poms) are a lot different that the kinds you see used in potted plants in the local garden center.   The term Hardy mum is used for plants grown in northern gardens as a bedding plant for fall flowers.

Mums are a short day plant, which means they form flowers when the nights get longer.  Commercial flower growers have learned what it takes to trick the Chrysanthemum into flowering at any time of the year.   Besides covering the plants with black cloth during spring and summer growing periods, growers also use growth regulators so plants grow multiple blooms rather than just one flower at the end of a tall stem.

Using Potted Mums

Chrysanthemums have been at the garden centers since September, but now is the best time to add these cool season flowers to the landscape.  Late fall is when we get maximum enjoyment from these beautiful flowers.

Gardeners in the more northern areas have been using mums for months but it's best if we wait until late October or November to set our Mums in the landscape.  If you waited until now to create your fall displays the plants are going to flower a lot longer.

It's also best to purchase your mums when they have fairly tight flower buds.  Look for just a little color so you know what you are buying, but avoid the plants with wide open flowers.   Once fully open they will soon be past their peak, and will shortly decline.

It's probably best to use just a few mums in the landscape.  In many areas of the South it is common to see front porches in the fall with a potted mum on the doorstep.  Since they are not cheap, and are a short term investment, they should be displayed to a maximum advantage.

Tom suggests that a couple of potted Mums could be clustered in a larger container and set at the door entrance or on the patio.  You could also fill a small flowerbed area with mums to obtain a brilliant seasonal splash of color.

Florida gardeners may get a second flowering from potted mums once the display fades but it's never as extensive as the original planting.  After the flowers decline, cut the stems back into the fuller portion of the plant.   New green shoots should begin grow, and may form a few new flower buds.  This may continue well into the spring months.  In most cases what you get is sporadic clusters of blooms but it will still add color to the garden if you don't mind the wait.

What many gardeners do is remove the potted mums from containers or flower beds when they are finished blooming and pop in other new plants.  Most mums are treated like bouquets and just added to the compost pile when the flowers decline.


Re-growing your Mum

It is possible to plant mums and carry them over the winter.  Mum clumps should be divided in the spring to prevent overcrowding. Failure to divide the clumps will cause weak, spindly growth with few flowers.

Chrysanthemums grow best in well-drained soil, and adding compost is desirable.  The plants should be set 18 to 24 inches apart to provide adequate space for development.

After the plants have re-grown at least six inches, pinch off the top one to two inches of the stem. This will encourage lateral branching and produce lower, bushier plants.  When the new shoots are six to eight inches long they too can be pinched.  This is continued with the final pinch made between August 1 and 15, but no later.

Two to three applications of a 6-1-6 fertilizer at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet of bed during the growing season will grow a good crop of flowers.  Water the garden mums thoroughly to spread the fertilizer through the root area.

 Iíve placed more information on our Okeechobee web page, http://okeechobee.ifas.ufl.edu.  If you need additional information on Mums, please email us at okeechobee@ifas.ufl.edu or call us at 863-763-6469.  Local residents can stop by our office at 458 Hwy 98 North in Okeechobee, and visit our Okeechobee County Master Gardeners from 1 to 3 PM on Tuesday afternoons.  The Okeechobee County  Extension Staff wishes you a Very Thankful Thanksgiving!

Trade names, where used, are given for the purpose of providing specific information. They do not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of products named, nor does it imply criticism of products not named. The Florida Cooperative Extension Service - Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.  Florida Cooperative Extension Service / IFAS /Larry A.  Arrington, Dean.  Last update: 10/14/2008 .  This page is maintained by Dan Culbert 


Anonymous.  Crop Facts/ Mum History.  Barberton, Ohio: Yoder, Inc, 11/2006.  http://www.yoder.com 

Anonymous.  Chrysanthemum Origin & History.  Lake Buena Vista, FL: Walt Disney World Florist, 2006. http://www.disneyflorist.com/language.html?which=chrysanthemum 

Behnke, Charles T. Growing Chrysanthemums. Columbus: The Ohio State University Extension Service, 1992.  http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1219.html 

Black, Robert. Chrysanthemums.  Gainesville: UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Department website, undated. http://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/gt/chrysan/chrysan.htm

MacCubbin, Tom   It's A Good Time For Mums.   Orlando: Sentinel, Nov 13, 2006. http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/features_gardening_blog/2006/11/its_a_good_time.html  

Stephens, Jim. Edible Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum coronarium L. Gainesville: UF/IFAS Extension Service, May 2003.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/MV049