Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum), or “mums” as they are often called, are America’s favorite fall flower. Everywhere you go you see pots of cheerful chrysanthemums, their densely petalled heads dancing in the autumn breeze. Home owners line their entry walks with pots of chrysanthemums or step them up front porch stairs. You’ll see them displayed in elegant pots on patios or in charming baskets set next to someone’s front door.
Their compact growth and lovely variety of colors make chrysanthemums an excellent choice for fall displays both outdoors and indoors. In garden plantings, chrysanthemums erupt in mounds of deep green foliage in mid-summer, beginning a long blooming period in late summer all the way until frost. Wonderful as cut flowers, chrysanthemum blooms will maintain their color and shape, continuing to look fresh, for a week or more after being cut. But when the first hard frost coats the garden in icy cold glitter, chrysanthemums die. All those colorful blooms wither and turn brown almost overnight.
Many novice gardeners toss pots of dead chrysanthemum into the trash or compost pile. What they don’t realize is that chrysanthemums are perennials. Instead of tossing them out when container plants die, winter-hardy chrysanthemums can be planted in the garden. Just trim away flower stalks before planting in the ground, leaving foliage intact to nurture the plant as leaves deteriorate. Next summer, plants will start to grow again; and by fall, blooms will open, filling your fall garden with beautiful color.
As fall wanes, chrysanthemum prices plummet and No. 1 pots can be picked up for as little as $3 a piece. Keep an eye on prices at your favorite garden center and pick up half a dozen or so plants at bargain basement prices to plant in your garden for next year.