Chrysanthemums — Are They Annuals or Perennials?
By Pat Dickey, Fairfax Master Gardener
We know that fall has arrived when we see colorful Chrysanthemums at local nurseries and stores. They are a favorite flower for the fall growing season, adding that pop of color where the petunias and other annuals fade in the flower bed in front of your home or in that urn at your entryway.
Chrysanthemums spp, better known as mums, were first grown in China in 15th century BC as a flowering herb for a headache remedy, and the leaves were brewed as a festive drink. Karl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, introduced chrysanthemums to the Western world in the 17th century, but the flowers were small, yellow and shaped like daisies, not like we see today. Flower hybridists in the US, as well as in England, France and Japan, have continued to develop countless shapes, sizes and colors of chrysanthemums since then. Mums are now available in pink, purple, red, yellow, bronze, orange and white. Their shapes now include pompom, daisy, cushion, anemone and spider, among others. Today, they are the most widely-grown potted flowers.
Elaborate varieties of mums that you see in nurseries and at florists have been grown in a greenhouse environment and pinched continuously to produce an abundance of tiny flower buds ready to bloom for that special event or party. These potted mums are best treated as annuals. Since they have given most of their energy to producing the flower buds, their root systems are not well developed enough to adapt to cold winter temperatures. Remember to purchase mums that have not already bloomed so that they last longer in your garden.
Chrysanthemums are subject to Pythium root rot, bacterial blight and web blight. Consult the 2017 VCE Pest Management Guide for pesticide applications in severe cases, at Chapter 4, Control of Ornamental Diseases.
• Chrysanthemums care (fact sheet), Merrifield Garden
Center. Thank you to the staff at Merrifield Garden
Center for their expertise and help with my questions
• National Chrysanthemum Society, USA
• Control of Ornamental Diseases, 2017 Virginia
Cooperative Extension Pest Management Guide, p. 4-7,