Skip to main content

6 gorgeous mums to add color to your autumn garden 

How to find the perfect mum for your fall garden and properly care for it

Chrysanthemum flowers
Lowphoto / Shutterstock

Come early fall, you’ll find beautiful mums in virtually every color lining nursery display tables. The garden mum, or chrysanthemum, is a universally beloved autumn flower, and luckily, it’s easy to find. Of course, there are so many different blooms to choose from, many coming in whimsical, Dr. Seuss-esque shapes.

With so many options, it can be overwhelming to find just the right one for cozying up your garden — even if you’re only keeping it for the fall season. If you’re wondering which mum best suits your landscape, keep reading to learn about the different types of autumn garden mums.

Pink mum
Background expert / Shutterstock

How to care for mums

Most fall mums are relatively easy to care for. Before we dive into different mum flower types, here’s a quick rundown of factors to consider as you figure out how to provide yours with the best care possible. Though they’re often grown as potted annual plants, chrysanthemums can survive all year long, especially if you live in zones four through nine.

  • Light: Where should you situate your mums in the garden? Mums usually only need six hours of light of day, but the more light you can give your plant, the greater chance it will have at opening up its flowers. (Just don’t let it wither in direct light.) Plants with tight buds will appreciate areas with full sun — you don’t want to leave unopened flowers indoors. If you have a plant that has already bloomed, consider leaving it in partial shade.
  • Water: Mums appreciate a good drink of water, sometimes even on a daily basis. Your soil should be moist but not soggy. Luckily, mums aren’t particularly picky about soil, so you only need a well-draining growing medium. To optimize water retention, mulch your soil to help your mum keep its roots hydrated. Also, water from the bottom to give the roots as much water as possible.
  • Fertilizer: You only need to fertilize mums every week or two with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer throughout the growing season until they bloom. Alternatively, you can use slow-release flower food. If you get a plant with buds just about to open, you won’t need to fertilize your plant.
  • Temperature: Most mums aren’t freeze hardy, preferring a temperature range between 55 to 65°F. If you want to plant mums that will last beyond autumn, put them in the ground early in the fall so that they can establish roots before it gets too cold.

Do mums do better in the ground or in containers?

Mums can thrive in both the ground and in containers. When you first get them from the nursery, you’ll want to move them to a bigger space, as the flowers are often tightly packed inside grow pots. Whether that’s a bigger container or a whole flower bed is up to you.

If you live in a warm area, your mum will have a good chance of surviving the late fall and winter outdoors. If you live in a cold region, you might want to consider using a pot to overwinter your plant indoors. As always, check your plant’s specific hardiness zone range, which should be labeled on the container. Your nursery will likely also indicate whether a plant is a perennial or an annual.

Now, without further ado, let’s get into the different types of chrysanthemum flowers out there.

Yellow chrysanthemum
S. Tsuchiya / Unsplash

1. Incurve mums

Incurve mums feature thick florets that curve inwards. When considering incurve chrysanthemums, you can, of course, get more granular. There are irregular incurve mums, which loosely close to the center, and then there are regular incurve mums, which have a tighter, more spherical shape — the intermediate incurve falls somewhere in between these two. Incurve mums are generally short and can have blooms between 4 and 8 inches wide. They come in many colors, including yellow, purple, and orange.

Mums of assorted colors
Pedro Vit / Unsplash

2. Reflex mums

Another common variety of mums you might find in floral arrangements is the reflex mum. Coming in many traditional fall colors such as crimson, orange, and yellow, reflex mums are more or less the opposite of incurve mums — they curve out and downward. Their growth pattern gives them a feathery appearance that can add a subtly fluffy texture to your whimsical garden landscape. Keep in mind that their stalks can grow tall, measuring around 3 to 4 feet in height.

A beautiful yellow chrysanthemum
Jason Leung / Unsplash

3. Pompom mums

Whereas regular incurve mums have petals that curve inwards, pompom mums, or button mums, have petals that grow around evenly, much like a full dahlia bloom. As their name suggests, these adorable flowers resemble cheerleader pompoms. The spheres are typically 1 to 4 inches wide, and the flower stalks often remain around 18 inches tall. You can usually find them in vibrant hues such as yellow and pink.

Purple spoon mum
Valhellan / Shutterstock

4. Spoon mums

Spoon mums may initially look like any old mum, but you’ll appreciate their uniqueness once you zoom out. At the ends of their petals, you’ll see spoon-like formations that give them extra visual flair. They reach between 24 to 26 inches tall and appreciate about 16 inches of space apart in flower beds. Though beautiful, these aren’t the most cold hardy varieties, so you’ll likely want to overwinter them inside if you aren’t living in zones five through nine. Their lovely colors include white, yellow, orange, lavender, and pink — they’re perfect for an elegant floral arrangement.

Yellow spider mum
Sandra Grünewald / Unsplash

5. Spider mums

Looking for a showy yet delicate variety? Try the spider mum. Often found in reds and pinks, spider mums feature extra thin, tubular petals that expand out like fireworks, or spider legs, as their name suggests. They’re big, featuring flower heads 6 inches wide and stalks 1 to 3 feet tall. Because the flowers tend to be big, consider supporting the stalks with trellises or stakes. Spider mums are also cold sensitive, especially if you’re not living in zones six through nine.

Pink single mums with butterfly above them
Kostiantyn Vierkieiev / Unsplash

6. Single and semi-double mums

Single and semi-double mums are your mums that often get mixed up with daisies, featuring one or two rounds of petals around a tight center. (Three rounds make it a semi-double mum.) Perfect for borders or fences, they grow around 1 to 3 feet tall. Their striking hues include red, pink, and apricot.

Now that you know all about the most common types of mums, go forth and pick out a variety with just the right texture and color for your autumn garden. With a little tender loving care, you may even be able to keep these lovely blooms as perennials, not just decorative flowers that eventually die.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Stacey Nguyen
Stacey's work has appeared on sites such as POPSUGAR, HelloGiggles, Buzzfeed, The Balance, TripSavvy, and more. When she's…
6 outdoor gardening projects to do in October
Stay active this October with these projects
Large oak tree with orange leaves in autumn

It seems like there’s always something more to be doing in the garden. Whether it’s the day-to-day chores like weeding or watering or the bigger, seasonal tasks like harvesting, there’s a task for every season and a season for every task. Figuring out which projects to do and when can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to outdoor gardening. If you aren't sure where to start or are looking for a handy checklist to ensure you've done everything, let this article be your guide! Here are six outdoor gardening projects and tasks to complete this October.

Set up feeders for birds and squirrels with leftover seeds
After you harvest the last of your fruits or flowers, you’ll need to clean out your garden. Any leftover plant material can be taken out and composted, unless it’s diseased or has a fungal infection. You may also want to save some of the seeds from your garden, especially if you’re growing heirloom plants.

Read more
Wondering what to plant in October? Here are the best flowers and vegetables for autumn
Tips for picking out the best plants to start in autumn
View of a vegetable garden

Your gardening season doesn’t have to be over when the leaves and temperatures start to fall. October is a great time for planting. The mild days and cool evenings are perfect for establishing cool-season flowers and veggies. Plus, trees and shrubs need less care and attention if you plant them in fall instead of spring. Although there are some heat-loving plants that prefer to start out with a long summer, the plants on this list find their sweet spot in autumn. Keep reading to find out what to plant in October.

Cool-season flowers
Purchase cool-season flowers from your local garden center in time for October planting. Or, start them from seeds in August or September. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost to amend garden beds prior to planting. For container garden setups, use a high-quality outdoor potting mix.
Pansies and violas
Pansies and violas are mound-shaped plants with emerald green foliage and colorful 1- to 2-inch flowers. They love the cold. Plant them in the fall for a colorful display as long as daytime temperatures stay above freezing. In the deep cold, they pause and resume as soon as the weather turns mild. Expect pansies and violas to remain in good condition until warm weather arrives in late spring or early summer.

Read more
What you need for a gorgeous indoor rose plant
Grow an indoor rose garden for a lively and elegant display
Several orange miniature roses in a large pot

Roses are beautiful, elegant flowers, but they’re also typically grown as outdoor blooms. They can take up a lot of space and have a reputation for being somewhat particular about their care. So what should you do if you have limited space to grow plants, or if the weather isn’t compatible with growing roses? Grow them indoors, of course! Here's everything you need to know to care for an indoor rose plant.

Can you grow roses inside?
Yes, you absolutely can! Revitalize your indoor garden with a bounty of roses. Roses will grow just as well indoors as they would outdoors, as long as you take proper care of them. Here are the basics of rose care and how they’re impacted by the change of scenery.
Light
Light is very important for roses. Most rose varieties need roughly six hours of direct sunlight a day. For indoor roses, make sure they have plenty of light or look for a variety that specifically grows in lower light. Grow lights will be crucial if your home doesn't get a lot of natural lighting.
Water
When watering your roses, make sure that the top inch of the soil is dry before you water, but don’t let the soil dry out completely. You also want to keep an eye out for the humidity. If the air isn’t humid enough, your rose may develop a spider mite infestation! You can place your rose in a tray with just a little water in it, which creates more humidity around the plant as the water evaporates. There is, of course, also the option of investing in a humidifier.
Temperature
Roses are not very fond of the cold. They need temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit to be comfortable. However, you can start your roses in January or February — the seeds should be just fine with this timing. The soil will keep them warm in late winter, and you should see sprouts by spring.
Pruning
Roses do need to be pruned, and this is especially true of indoor roses. Pruning keeps them healthy and from taking up too much room. Simply clip faded blooms off with sharp garden shears or a blade.

Read more