Chrysanthemums, also called mums, are sometimes called the Queen of Fall Flowers. They can have
gorgeous flowers each fall and bring a lot of color to the home this time of the year. I have some on my
front steps and they liven up the porch as my annual zinnia are fading. There are several nurseries
around here that grow beautiful mums. Let’s talk about some of the properties of this plant and what
you could do to have mums in your yard.
Mums are a member of the daisy family (Asteraceae). This is one of the biggest families in the plant
kingdom with a wide variety of flowering plants. The mums was first cultivated in the 15 th century B.C. in
China. In the 8 th century A.D. the mum made its way to Japan. They were so popular there that the mum
became the official seal of the emperor. The mum was introduced to the Western world in 1753 by Karl
Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist. Growers from ancient China would probably not recognize modern day
mums due to the breeding that has given them more showy flowers. Chrysanthemum is also the source
for an insecticide called pyrethrum. Because this insecticide is developed from a natural source it is
considered an organic insecticide.
The easiest way to have blooming mums at your house each year will be to buy them in the fall from a
local nursery. However, if you are interested in growing your own mums it is possible. There are many
different varieties available, so talking with a local nursery will help you choose a variety that is
acclimatized to our area. They do best when planted in the spring after the last frost. Planting in the
spring will give them time to develop a root system so that the following winter they will be able to
survive. Well drained soils with full sun are the best for growth. Mums need a slightly acidic soil with a
pH near 6.5.
After planting fertilize mums with 5-10-5 fertilizer. The high phosphorus will assist root growth on
mums. As the mum is growing in the summer pinching the tips of the mum will increase the amount of
branching on the plant. More branching will lead to a fuller plant. Pinch the top half inch to full inch of
the plant to encourage branching. Pinch every four to six weeks until August when the flower buds begin
Mums are relatively easy to take care of, but there are a couple of diseases to look out for. Some of the
most common diseases are powdery mildew, blight, leaf spot, and rust. These diseases are fairly easy to
control either by fungicide applications or removing the infected leaves. Spider mites and aphids can be
pests of mums. They can be controlled by insecticides but good coverage of the plant is necessary to
control these pests. Spider mites and aphids are capable of population explosions in a very short amount
of time, therefore make sure that you completely cover the top and bottom of the leaves when spraying
for these pests.
If you have questions about growing mums please contact your local Extension Office. Or send me an
email at Jacob.Williams@uga.edu.