Are you looking for the best type of mums (or chrysanthemums) for your garden, balcony or for your cut flower collection? There are so many different species that I understand why you may feel a bit lost…
In fact there are now more than, hold yourself, 20,000 different chrysanthemum cultivars all over the world of this flowering perennial from Europe and (especially) China.
When considering a mum, size, blooming season and color are all important in choosing the best mums for you. But gardeners use the shape of flowers to divide chrysanthemums into categories, and there are 8 different types of chrysanthemum flower forms:
But remember that each category can have thousands of cultivars. With so many rose varieties available, how does one choose? Let’s take a look at some of the best chrysanthemum varieties from each category along with information on their growth habit and characteristics.
Mum Plant Overview
Mums, or chrysanthemums, are a genus of the Asteraceae family, the same family as daisies and asters. They originate from Europe and Asia, in particular China. They are either perennial shrubs or perennial herbaceous plants.
They are photoperiodic plants, which means that they only blossom when the number of hours of light and darkness are just right. When the hours of light go just under 12 a day, they will start developing buds.
This means, however, that it is easy to get them to bloom in greenhouses or even indoors using grow lights. There are single and double mums, and the range of colors is huge, every color except blue, in fact.
The flower heads can god from 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide to a maximum of 8 inches in diameter (20 cm).In China, they have been grown as decorative flowers at least since the 15th century BCE (that is almost a thousand years before Ancient Greek civilization!) So they have a very long cultural history.
In some countries like Japan, they are the national flower. In China red chrysanthemums mean love, yellow mean slighted love while the plant itself means cheerfulness.
In European language of flowers, mums symbolize friendship and loyalty. However, for many Westerners, they are associated with death.
This is because they bloom around All Saints’ Day, or Halloween, and they have become very popular flowers for that occasion, when people visit churchyards and cemeteries.
However, in recent years and decades, mums are making a huge comeback win Western gardens as decorative flowers, thanks to their huge range, abundant blooms and fairly low maintenance demands.
Botanical name: Chrysanthemum spp.
Common name(s): chrysanthemum, mum.
Plant type: herbaceous perennial or perennial shrub.
Size: 16 to 36 inches tall (40 to 90 cm) and up to 4 feet in spread (120 cm).
Potting soil: generic, well drained and medium to rich potting soil.
Outdoor soil: any well drained loam, clay or sand based soil.
Soil pH: ideally 6.5 to 7.0, but it will tolerate slightly alkaline soil or slightly acidic too.
Light requirements indoors: bright, high.
Light requirements outdoors: full Sun.
Watering requirements: keep the soil moist but not wet. Do not allow all the soil to dry out. Allow the top inch of the soil to fry up between waterings.
Fertilizing: regular feeding during the vegetative phase with a nitrogen and potassium rich organic fertilizer. Don’t miss out feeding before the buds form. Feed also when in bloom and suspend when the blooms are spent.
Bloom time: usually fall, some in summer too.
Hardiness: usually hardy to USDA zones 5 to 9.
Place of origin: Europe and China.
16 Types of Mums in 8 Handy Categories
We have selected two mums for each category, choosing not only the most “typical” but also the most decorative.
Here are 16 types of chrysanthemums should consider planting in your garden.
Single mums are a very common variety of chrysanthemums. They have a flat center and they have a large central disk and many petals around it. They are natural looking and daisy looking and they are good for pollinators.
1. Single Mum ‘Bolero’
A beautiful golden yellow variety of single mum is the cultivar ‘Bolero’. It forms round that fill with the richest and warmest yellow flowers from late summer into the fall… The disks are yellow like the thin ray petals of this warm and vibrant beauty.
It is an excellent choice for borders and beds, especially if you need a plant to bring energy and vibrancy while at the same time keeping a warm, autumnal or pre-autumnal feel. It is also very suitable for formal gardens.
2. Single Mum ‘Clara Curtis’
Also known as garden mum ‘Clara Curtis’ this single cultivar is stunningly romantic! It has very delicate, long, papery petals of a vibrant but light, almost pastel pink shade. There are delicate grooves that run along the petals, increasing their “paper texture” look.
The disk is of a vibrant lemon yellow color, a wonderful contrast indeed.
This is a lovely choice for a romantic corner of your garden. It has that “spring romance” feeling, thanks to the lively colors and bright yellow, which, set against the dark foliage, looks like an early season burst of passion.
Pompon mums have small and spherical blooms; they are easy to recognize because of this particular shape. They are very decorative, and they look similar to some dahlias. They also have a fairly regular arrangement of the petals, and each petal is curled at the sides.
3. Pompon Mum ‘Yoko Ono’
Dedicated to the famous wife of John Lennon, ‘Yoko Ono’ pompon is as striking and original as she is. In fact. This cultivar has all the perfect and small globular flower heads that are typical of this category. But it is also very original…
The flowers are in fact bright green! This is an excellent choice for a modern looking garden or patio.
It will also look original and sculptural in beautiful containers. If you want a chrysanthemum that says “I am different”, ‘Yoko Ono’ is what you have been looking for.
4. ‘Moonbeam’ Pompon Mum
‘Moonbeam’ pompon mum is one of the most elegant chrysanthemums on the market. It has fairly large globular flowers (unusual for this category).
But what is really striking is the whiteness of the petals! They are so candid that they look like snow.
The overall look, thanks to the regular petals, is soft and sculptural at the same time. ‘Moonbeam’ is a perfect chrysanthemum for formal gardens or in formal settings. It will look great in pots, urban and gravel gardens.
But if you have an informal garden, it will adapt to it too. And for a white garden that needs a late bloom, ‘Moonbeam’ is perfect.
Cushion mums are low growing shrubs, that look very bushy and thick. They have a different growing habit from other mums, which makes them perfect for low flower beds.
5. ‘Ruby Mound’ Cushion Mum
The name of this mum, ‘Ruby Mound’, says it all about this chrysanthemum… It is a low growing variety that spreads sideways rather than growing tall.
But what will strike you is the amazing color of the double flowers of this cultivar: they are deep ruby red. In fact the color is one of the most luxurious reds you can ever find in a flower!
This is an excellent choice of mums if you need a patch of fiery energy and deep, old world passion to spark up your flower beds. It is good for both formal and informal gardens, and it is also excellent for pots.
6. ‘Chiffon’ Cushion Mum
‘Chiffon’ cushion mum is aptly named too. Very few flowers covey the “soft comfort” of this material, chiffon, like these chrysanthemums…
They have double flowers with a “feathery” appearance. The petals are in fact soft and delicate looking.
You can have them in different shades, from ivory to dark salmon / coral pink, with some yellow in it.
This variety is excellent for a soft and romantic looking garden. They are better for informal flower beds, because the blooms look “ancient” and “traditional”, like the flowers you put in wedding bouquets.
Anemone mums are easy to recognize because they have a large, round and raised central disk, surrounded by short, often shaggy looking petals.
This makes them look very different from many other chrysanthemums. They usually have large flower heads too.
7. ‘Daybreak’ Anemone Mum
This chrysanthemum is called ‘Daybreak’ anemone mum because it looks like the Sun rising from the horizon.
It has a very classical anemone mum shape, with a large raised disk in the middle and a few rows of soft and slightly bending and twisting petals all around.
The center is on the orange yellow side, while the petals on the pink (to orange pink) side, hence the name.
This is an excellent mum for an informal garden, like an English garden’s flower bed or border. It would also be excellent in a cottage garden. Avoid it in formal settings; it looks too “irregular”.
8. ‘Anderton’ Anemone Mum
‘Anderton’ anemone mum is a striking, decorative and almost sculptural kind of chrysanthemum. Unlike ‘Daybreak’, in fact, it has a very regular shape, with open and only slightly curved ray petals, while the raised disk is made up of regular tubular petals.
The color? It is of a bright warm yellow shade, so, it’s impossible to miss it!
This cultivar is excellent for formal and informal gardens alike. It is a very vibrant flower, which brings lots of light and energy to flower beds, borders and pots, thanks to its large and brightly colored flowers.
Spider mums are aptly named, because the long, thin and sometimes partly curled petals of these chrysanthemums make them look a bit like spiders indeed.
They are very unusual looking and decorative at the same time. Maybe they are not the most common right now, but they are growing in popularity.
9. ‘Symphony’ Spider Mum
Symphony spider mum is really striking. It has very long petals at the bottom, on the outside of the flower, which look like rays.
Then, as you approach the center, they become shorter and shorter, in what overall is a flattened disk, a halo, or even a spider with many legs.
The petals are curled at the very tips, a bit like hooks. This variety comes in warm colors, often with the curled hook of a lighter color.
It is a very decorative variety which would look great in informal borders or beds, and even in an old fashioned cottage garden it would be perfect.
However, given its original shape, in the right setting it could work also in a formal garden.
10. ‘Chesapeake’ Spider Mum
Chesapeake spider mum must be one of the most elegant chrysanthemums on the market. It has very long, thin and white petals in many rows, with the longest ones at the margins.
The petals bend back and down as they grow out and then they curl inwards, like violin handles!
They look like a spider or even a spider web. This is a very elegant cultivar for a refined garden, smart looking pot or high quality terrace.
Given its fine features, it looks best on its own, pr against a contrasting background, like a wall or grave of a different color.
Spoon chrysanthemums take their name from the shape of these mum’s petals. These are single, semi-double or (more rarely) double varieties.
So, sometimes, you will see the central disk. many times you won’t. But you can always tell a spoon mum because the petals star thin at the base then they widen into what looks like – you guessed – a spoon!
11. ‘Starlet’ Spoon Mum
The spoon mum cultivar called ‘Starlet’ is very attractive indeed. It is. A semi-double variety, with two rows of ray petals and a clearly visible central disk.
This is small compared to the size of the petals, and it can range from light yellow to orange yellow.
The petals themselves have the typical spoon shape of this type of mums. They can be yellow, orange or antique rose in color.
‘Starlet’ is excellent for borders and beds in informal but also formal gardens. The blooms are very generous and they almost cover the plants completely. They are also ideal for pots and containers.
12. ‘Happy Face’ Spoon Mum
‘Happy Face’ spoon mum has a very bright and light, in fact, cheerful appearance. The central disks are quite small but still visible.
The spoon shaped petals, on the other hand, are also very long and thin, so, the overall complexion is light and airy.
The bright yellow ones may look like little suns, or stars. The white ones are beautiful too.
It will look great in informal or even formal beds, borders or containers. It brings lots of light, life and a finely weaved texture to your garden or balcony. It is quite elegant and breezy.
Quill mums look like sea urchins in a way. They have long and thin, straight petals that are actually curled up into a long tubular shape.
This makes them very elegant and light. The ray petals look like rays indeed, or, as a matter of fact, spikes or quills!
13. ‘Anastasia White’ Quill Mum
‘Anastasia White’ quill mum is a very showy chrysanthemum cultivar. It has the overall shape of a flattened globe with long, straight and spike like petals of the most candid, actually ethereal white ever. It has a very candid but unmissable presence.
In a way, it may remind you of a ghost, or a strange lunar presence in your garden.
No need to say that ‘Anastasia White’ is a perfect choice for a white garden, but with its large individual blooms it adapts to virtually all gardens, from “crowded” and wild looking to “minimalist” and formal.
14. ‘Patricia Grace’ Quill Mum
If I said that ‘Patricia Grace’ is a graceful chrysanthemum, I would be stating the plain truth.
It has long and thin spike like petals that look a bit like thin and elegant wires, and they are of the most delicate shade of pastel rose pink, fading into an off whitish blush of pink towards the tips.
That’s elegance and grace in a flower for you! It is ideal for a garden where you want to match romance and elegance.
Or even where you want to match romance and formality, thanks to its very straight and geometrically pleasing petals.
decorative mums are chrysanthemums with very showy flower heads that grow on fairly short stems. They may have curved or flat petals, but they always have very bright colors, often with striking contrasts.
15. ‘Indian Summer’ Decorative Mum
You can’t miss ‘Indian Summer’ decorative mum in a garden. The flower heads are globular, large and of the brightest, warmest and most vibrant orange shades ever.
They come as single flowers on upright stems that reach just above the dark green foliage with hints of purple blue.
For this reason, the flower heads stand out even more, like balloons of fiery autumnal light on a dark sea.
This is an excellent variety you can fill a whole flower bed with, even in a formal garden. Wherever you grow it, it will, catch your visitors’ attention and become a protagonist in your garden.
16. ‘Coral Charm’ Decorative Mum
‘Coral Charm’ decorative mum is a unique chrysanthemum… It has large globular flower heads with perfectly curved and slightly pointed petals.
There are fairly uniformly distributed but not perfectly regular in the flower, and they are tightly packed.
But I have not told you the amazing feature of this flower yet. Part of the flower is bright magenta pink and part id coral pink! The petals are grouped into patches of these two colors but never mix on a single petal.
Given the unique look of this mum, it is ideal for an original garden. Actually, its perfect setting would be a fairly formal, highly sculptural and very beat garden, like an urban garden, or a “garden room” for entertainment.
Mum’s the Word!
If you thought of mums as “the flowers of cemeteries” before, I hope you have changed idea now. There are so many different types of mums, actually 20,000 varieties, that you can find the perfect one for any type of garden.
There are small and big ones, some that look like spiders, others like sea urchins, others like daisies and yet others have spoon shaped petals…
So, next time you go to your garden center looking for a beautiful protagonist for your late flower beds, borders or patio containers, mum’s the word!
After many years as an academic in London, Adriano Bulla became a writer, publishing books like A History of Gardening, Organic Gardening and Elements of Garden Design; he then decided to become a gardener, following his childhood dream, and has been following his dream writing and gardening professionally in Southern Europe, where he has specialized in new and innovative organic gardening fields and techniques, like permaculture, regenerative agriculture, food forests and hydroponics.