Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Grow Chrysanthemums in Your Garden

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“Bonnie” is an early-blooming variety with single blooms

In the fall garden, chrysanthemums are the showstoppers, blooming prolifically well after other garden plants have called it quits for the season. Native to China and prized for over 2,000 years, the name “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek words for gold (chrysos) and flower (anthos) and is often affectionately shortened to “mum.”

Research into chrysanthemums will lead to some confusion as you encounter two botanical names: Chrysanthemum sp. and Dendrathema sp. The plants were originally named and placed in the genus Chrysanthemum in the 1700s. Then, in the 1990s, they were moved to the genus of Dendrathema because of the sheer number of varieties being developed. That decision was soon reversed, and Chrysanthemum is once again the official scientific name.

Florist chrysanthemums
Florist chrysanthemums are often button-shaped.

Varieties of Chrysanthemums

There are literally hundreds of types of chrysanthemums – with variations in height, spread, color, size of flower, bloom time, and type of bloom. There are also hardy garden mums and non-hardy florist or show mums. Some of the most common types of blooms are:

  • Single: Long, daisy-like petals
  • Decorative: Large with many rows of petals, often with petals curling toward the center
  • Cushion: Aptly named for its medium-sized, cushion-shaped blossom
  • Anemone: Cushion-shaped, but with the center covered by shorter petals of a darker color
  • Pompon: Small, firm globe of tight petals (tiny ones are called “buttons”)
  • Quill: Tube-shaped petals that are long and straight
  • Spider: Long tube-shaped petals with curved ends
  • Spoon: Flatter blossom with rows of spoon-shaped petals.

For the home garden, the most common hardy types are the anemone, cushion, decorative, and single varieties. Chrysanthemums are one of the easiest plants to grow, but show-quality and non-hardy blooms require a great deal of care.

Urano Red-Bronze chrysanthemums
“Urano Red-Bronze” has an anemone-style bloom with a darker center.

Growing Conditions for Garden Mums

  • Light: Full early sun, at least 5-6 hours daily.
  • Location: Chrysanthemums are susceptible to mildew, so keeping the plants dry is a priority. They need plenty of air circulation, water drainage, and morning sun to dry the dew on the leaves and stems. Don’t plant in low-lying, wet, compacted, or boxed-in areas with little air circulation. Chrysanthemum blooming occurs in response to shortening days and longer nights, so avoid planting near streetlights or other nighttime light sources.
  • Soil requirements: Fertile, well-drained, sandy or loamy soil with a pH around 6.5.
  • Fertilization: Chrysanthemums are pretty tough and can thrive on their own, but they benefit from light and frequent feeding with a balanced fertilizer during the growing season.

chrysanthemums
“Barbara” is a midseason bloomer with small pompon blooms.

Planting Mums

Ideally, chrysanthemums should be planted in the early spring after the danger of freezing weather has passed. They can really be planted any time, though, as long as the roots have at least 6 weeks to become established before extremes of either hot or freezing weather.

Chrysanthemums are available at garden centers in up to gallon-sized containers. Choose bushy plants with plenty of leafy stems branching out at the base.

Dig a hole at least twice the size of the root ball, and incorporate organic matter such as compost or peat to help with drainage. Plant the mums at exactly the same depth they were in the pot – avoid water collection around the stems. Space plants 18-24 inches apart.

For larger varieties, install support structures such as stakes or garden fencing, and try not to walk in mum beds to avoid compacting the soil.


“Pelee” mimics the colors of autumn on single daisy-shaped blooms.

Pruning Chrysanthemums

When plants are six inches tall, pinch off the tips to encourage bushiness and more blooms. Pinch back again when a foot tall. Some gardeners pinch back every few weeks until July to encourage heavy fall blooming. Last pinching should be about 100 days before desired bloom time.

Spring-planted mums may have been forced to bloom in the greenhouse. Prune back about a third to half the stems when you plant, and it’s likely to bloom again in fall.

After blooming, some gardeners cut mums back to about 4” tall and cover with a light, airy mulch, straw, or evergreen boughs. You don’t have to cut them back, though, and in fact the branches often help hold mulch in place.


Chrysanthemums are spectacular both up close and in multicolored groupings.

Propagating Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums can be propagated from seeds, cuttings, or plant division. Some chrysanthemum hybrids are patented and cannot be propagated without permission. This is usually indicated on the plant label.

Chrysanthemums actually like to be divided – the new clumps grow better than old, crowded ones. After the last spring frost when shoots are 1”- 3” tall, dig them up and carefully pull or cut apart. Throw away any half-dead or overly woody parts, and plant only the healthy divisions. Add a source of phosphorus to the planting hole, along with organic matter. Ideally, divide chrysanthemums every 3-5 years and relocate to reduce disease.

To propagate from cuttings, snip off a piece about 4”- 6” long, and remove the leaves on the bottom half. Dip in rooting hormone and insert about 1” into vermiculite, sand, or sphagnum moss. Create your own mini-greenhouse using a wire frame and plastic wrap, and place the plants under bright light (but not sunlight) until rooted.

To grow from seed, sow at least 2 months before first frost, or start indoors over the winter. The planting medium should be kept at 70-75 degrees, and seeds should germinate in 1-3 weeks.

Further Information



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20 Comments on “How to Grow Chrysanthemums in Your Garden”

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  1. Mohan Says:
    November 24th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    My chrysanthemum plants have small black beetles nesting within leaves at the top of the plants. What could they be ? pests or beetles eating aphids ?

  2. Official Comment:

    Julie Day Says:
    January 31st, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Are they eating your plants? There’s a good resource on garden beetles provided by the Missouri Botanical Garden. Good luck!

  3. Dorothy Says:
    July 21st, 2009 at 8:59 am

    My chrysanthemums are being attacked by a reddish brown beetle which buries itself in the soil until after dark, and then proceeds to devour the foliage. What can I do?

  4. Beverly Sokal Says:
    April 14th, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    I have in ceramic pots 13″ in diameter chrysanthimums, tight buds from last fall. How do I determine if they are worth pruning now. Is it likely that they can begin to grown new plants and flower for the late summer. Would I be wiser just to get new plants now? Thanks

  5. Patricia Haas Says:
    October 29th, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    My chrysanthimums are in pots and came back up from last year. How much should I take out (they have grown double in size) and should I cut them back for winter? I live in a suburb of Seattle, so winter is not severe, but does get down to freezing sometimes?

  6. vivian chung Says:
    December 14th, 2010 at 12:19 am

    Hi! We’re planning to have herbs planted in our garden instead of flowers for consumption purposes :). I like chrysanthemums also and told my hubby that if we plant mums then we can have chrysanthemum tea anytime we want. My question is, is there a specific variety that we can make tea with or can ALL mums be used for chrysanthemum tea? Thanks! Regards from Bentong, Pahang, Malaysia!

  7. Official Comment:

    Julie Day Says:
    December 14th, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Vivian, what a great idea! However, I wouldn’t make tea from just any chrysanthemum – there are many different species, with many different uses (from medicinal tea to plant-based insecticides). Chrysanthemum tea is made from different varieties of yellow and white mums that are native to China, including Chrysanthemum indicum, Chrysanthemum morifolium, and . I would order seeds or plants from a reputable source of medicinal herbs, to be sure you’re getting the right thing. Good luck!

  8. vivian chung Says:
    December 14th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks for your reply! It is very helpful! We’ll see if we can get them Chrysanthemum indicum, Chrysanthemum morifolium here in Malaysia.

    Any suggestions for medicinal herbs? we’re just thinking of mint, rosemary, dill, basil and the likes for cooking :)

  9. Fran Says:
    February 20th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I planted chrysanthemums last year, cut them back when they died off and now, in February, they are starting to grow again. Should I cut them back? What should I do. I live in north Georgia.

  10. Linda Smith Says:
    May 3rd, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I have lots of mums and live in central South Carolina. My mums are beginning to bloom and I’m thinking I can cut them back after blooming, then have another bloom in Autumn. My gardens are heavily composted (we have chickens and rabbits) and I’m a beekeeper, so pollination is not a problem. I can’t find info in this anywhere, and hope you can answer my question. How far back should I cut the mums post-bloom? Can I expect a second bloom in 3-4 months? Thank you very much. – Linda Smith

  11. Nyge Says:
    September 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Being a new gardener I break all the propogation rules for mums and 90% of the time get away with things … so I think anyone can propogate them. In forming cutting I even plant the disgarded leaves! I did find that summer cuttings in water saturated peat compost produced the best result. Located East Anglian Coast of UK which has a lot of sun but little rain.

  12. Asri Says:
    October 21st, 2012 at 6:57 am

    I have just tried to grow mums in my guesthouses compound garden in Perlis, Malaysia. At first I don’t really sure that it is suitable in our hot tropical climate, but it comes to our surprise in the early October- it produces a lot of buds and starts to bloom. Now my interest has grown up more to concentrate in planting more mums. I am looking forward to read more article about growing mums in hot weather, do you have one?

  13. Kaye Says:
    May 15th, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    Am planning a garden with “football” mums–I love them but seem to never see them in home gardens. Someone mentioned that deer eat mums, and we have lots of deer. Do I need to be especially careful and plant them in an area where it is more difficult for deer to access or to be sure to use deer repellant?
    We live in central Illinois

  14. betsy Says:
    May 31st, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Two years ago I divided a lovely maroon mum that was planted in front of our house in Minnesota and the new plants and the mother plant flourished last summer. This spring — very late with 6 inches of snow May 2nd — 3 of the 3 plantings have no new sprouts. Is it too much rain? Late snow? What can I do to help revive them?

  15. Cindy Says:
    September 18th, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I just planted a lot of mums. To my dismay, the deer are eating my blooms. I want to know if they will have the chance to bloom again this fall, and if anyone can recommend anything to ward off the deer?

  16. kara Says:
    October 19th, 2013 at 11:26 am

    I purchased seeds that grow large head chrysanthemums
    But I’m not sure what they ll need after the e gotten bigger than the sprouts they are now. They’ve been pest free and I il have to bring them in when It becomes too chilly for them to be out at night. Other than that they are doing just fine. They were labled as chinese mums, chrysanthemums with little instructions to help me. It seems they need more care from the sound of things. If anyone knows about these flowering plants I d really appreciate that input.

  17. Ken Cummings Says:
    February 1st, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I going to try to bypass the pest problem by growing the Dalmation variety of ‘Mum’, the source of pyrethrum. Will let you all know how it turns out.

  18. jalesh gurung Says:
    June 21st, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    What is the new varieties of mums in markets?

  19. Susan Urquhart Says:
    July 26th, 2014 at 2:52 am

    My chrysanthemums are over four feet tall should I cut them back before they start producing buds

  20. Ken Cummings Says:
    July 26th, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Well, the Pyrethrum mums did not come up. I’ll kee3p improving my soil and try again next year.

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