By Iona Whatford, Garden Interpreter, Royal Botanical Gardens.
Chrysanthemums, also known as mums, are a fall favourite for many; they add beautiful fall tones to any garden or container. They come in many different colours and shades, ranging from deep reds and auburns, bronzes and deep oranges, bright oranges and yellows, soft purples and pinks, and even crisp whites.
Mums are in the Aster family so they are related to sunflowers, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias, daisies, and even cosmos. They often resemble their distant cousins. Mums were first cultivated in China in the 15th century. Based on historic illustrations, mums were originally yellow and closely resembled daisies with fewer petals and a large yellow centre. Today, there are over 20,000 cultivated varieties of mums worldwide.
Mums are classified into 13 types based on flower form and bloom shape and, more often than not, each classification looks completely different from the others! Some mums have long slender petals and large heads, while others look more like daisies with shorter, rounder petals and a visible yellow centre.
Mums can be either annual or perennial plants in this area, but annuals tend to be more common than the perennial varieties. To keep your mum flowering for as long as possible, make sure to remove any spent flowers, which will encourage new growth.
While mums are not particularly beneficial to pollinators, they can be homes for many other important fall insects and critters, such as spiders or small mammals. With their distinct odour, mums can also help to keep insect pests away, so mums make a great addition to any balcony, deck, or patio space.