I have a love-hate relationship with mums. It started with hate but over the years has turned to a deep, deep love.
Every fall, all the little round pots of mums come out for sale. They’re pretty, but a little boring. I like my plants looser and wilder and more dramatic. So I kinda thought I hated mums.
Then I was lucky enough to take a trip to Japan, where I saw mums—kiku in Japanese—in a whole new light. This picture is of two pots of mums on someone’s front porch near Nagoya. Each plant had just three enormous, perfect blooms. I was completely blown away. That is when the love part of the relationship started.
Since then, I’ve been collecting beautiful mums that excite me. I love the way they end the gardening season on a high note. I love how tough and easy to grow they are, and how beautiful they can be in a vase. This is the variety ‘Peach Centerpiece’, which makes piles of incredible flowers each fall and is hardy to Zones 5–9.
A close runner-up for my favorite mum is ‘Centerpiece’, which is essentially identical to ‘Peach Centerpiece’ but with a bright pink color.
For high drama in the mum world, nothing can beat ‘Matchstick’ (Zones 5–9). The color and pattern is so over the top! It is also a wonderful cut flower, but in my experience it, and many of the larger-flowered mums, can be quite floppy in the garden. Staking works, but I prefer to cut the plants back earlier in the summer. That causes them to branch and grow into shorter, dense plants that are less likely to fall over.
My last favorite mum is ‘Snowdrift’ (Zones 5–9), whose huge flowers transition from white to pale yellow in the center. A big vase full of these flowers is pure magic! For more unique mums, read this.
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