One of the most popular fall flowers, there are actually many different types of chrysanthemums. Native to Asia, in the wild over 40 different chrysanthemum species have been recorded, while many more varieties are cultivated by gardeners around the world. The different types of chrysanthemums each have their own distinct characteristics, helping us to tell them apart from other cultivars. These differences can include height, spread, number of flowers per stem and color.
If you want to learn more about the different types of chrysanthemums, this guide will highlight some of the more commonly grown and attractive varieties. As well as explaining the attraction of each variety we will also explain where the plant is best used and provide some general chrysanthemum care tips.
These are easy to care for, colorful fall flowers.
1 Single Mums
One of the least fussy types of chrysanthemums, in terms of appearance single blooms look like daisies. However, the white flowers of the single mum (also known as single blooms), with their daisy-like yellow centers are slightly larger than the daisy. Additionally, the single mum tends to produce more petals, which are evenly spaced around the center of the flower, than the daisy.
Known for their bushy growth habit, single bloom types of chrysanthemums typically reach between 2 and 3 ft tall. Smaller varieties rarely exceed 1 ft. Typically producing one flower per stem, some varieties can produce clusters of flowers on each stem.
Common single blooms:
- Icy Isle, this variety bears the closest resemblance to the daisy,
- Fire Island, unusual for its red petals which are marked with a yellow stripe and red center
You can also find semi-double varieties of single mums. Similar to the single blooms, these make for great cut flowers. Tenderness is a particularly attractive, showy, pink variety while Amber Morning is prized for its large, orange flowers.
2 Quilled Mums
One of the most visually arresting types of chrysanthemums currently available, quilled blooms have spiky or quill-like petals. Each petal narrows as it progresses towards its cupped tip. Adding further interest, the tip of the petal can differ in color to the rest of the petal. Quilled blooms come in a range of different colors.
Common quilled blooms include:
- Kings Delight, this variety is prized for its large pink flowers,
- Lola is an attractive, large flowering variety with lavender petals,
- Toffee has open-tipped flowers with no open center.
Some quilled blooms cultivars such as Muted Sunshine and Matchsticks are particularly suited to dis-bidding. This is the process of removing all the side buds on the stem to encourage one large flower to emerge on the top of the stem.
The petals of the quilled mum curl attractively as they reach the tip.
3 Spider Mums
Spider types of chrysanthemums are easily identified by their long, thin spidery petals. These can spread out in a myriad of directions, creating attractive, lacy flowers. Growing up to 6 inches long, the petals can sometimes curl, further adding to the visual attraction.
Anastasia and Cremon are both known for their curly petals. Anastasia Green is particularly attractive thanks to its curly lime green colored flowers. Adding to the interest Anastasia Green has no easily identified central disk.
Other popular spider types of chrysanthemums include:
- Evening Glow, this is a particularly elegant variety, producing petals in a variety of shades, from bronze to rose,
- Symphony is another lacy variety, prized for its attractive yellow flowers,
- Chesapeake is a white flowering variety, reaching up to 6 inches in height; its petals can be either coarse or incredibly fine.
Spider mums are identified by their spidery petals.
Anemone types of chrysanthemums produce flowers with a raised central disk which is surrounded by a single or double layer of petals, depending on the variety. The raised center can look a little like a button.
Anemone cultivars are commonly seen in shades of purple. One popular example is Angel which produces attractive white tipped lavender flowers with yellow centers. While purple cultivars are prevalent, anemone types of chrysanthemums come in a range of colors.
Many Anemone cultivars such as Daybreak and Mansetta Sunset are also ideal for disbudding.
Many mums produce attractively showy flowers.
One of the smallest types of chrysanthemums, pompon flowers typically measure 1 to 4 inches in diameter. The blooms are often globe shaped with small petals, which curl inwards, hiding the central disk. Many pompon cultivars, such as Lakeside, start out flat but become rounder as they mature.
Pompons are available in a range of colors, from rich reds to pastel lavenders and pristine whites. Ideal for adding soft structure to a flower bed, like many other types of chrysanthemums, Pompons are also ideal for planting in pots.
Sometimes called button mums there are a number of attractive pompom cultivars, including:
- Moonbeam, one of the largest flowering varieties, can reach up to 3 ft in ideal conditions and produces masses of white flowers,
- Yoko Ono is a small flowering variety, commonly grown for its green flowers. Varieties in other colors are also available.
Many varieties of pompons, such as Small Wonder and Baby Tears are good for both cut flower gardens and floral sprays.
Planting rounder varieties is a great way to soften a space.
6 Brush Mums
Also known as thistle mums, these types of chrysanthemums are grown for their flowers which have fine, tubular petals. The petals often grow parallel to the stem of the plant before sometimes drooping or twisting, eventually resembling a paint brush in their appearance.
One of the wilder or more exotic looking types of chrysanthemums, brush mum flowers rarely exceed 2 inches in diameter. Brush mums are ideal for adding interest to sprays and small flower displays.
Brush mums can resemble an old paintbrush.
7 Spoon Mums
This variety closely resembles semi-double chrysanthemum plants, the only difference is that the petals of spoon mums are tipped so that they look like spoons. The central disk of the flower is round and easily visible.
Kimie is a reliable spoon mum cultivar reaching 4 inches in height. It is ideal for both disbudding and cut flower displays. Other popular cultivars include:
- Starlet, a pale apricot flowering cultivar,
- Happy Face is a reliable variety that is prized for its bright, yellow flowers.
The tips of the petals of the spoon mum resemble a spoon.
8 Cushion Mums
Cushion mums are a low growing type with a pleasingly bushy growth habit. This makes them a good choice for floral ground cover. Cushion mums are also a good choice for edging paths or planting in borders.
When in flower cushion mums produce masses of medium sized flowers in a range of colors. Popular cushion mums include:
- Ruby Mound, a reliable, rich red flowering variety,
- Chiffon, this variety produces attractive apricot colored flowers with a bright yellow center.
Cushion mums are great for flower beds.
9 Reflex and Incurve Mums
The terms reflex and incurve refer to the curve of the flower’s petals. Incurve types of chrysanthemums curve inwards towards the central disk. Reflex varieties curve outwards, away from the disk.
Incurve mums tend to have large heads and irregular-shaped petals. This gives them an informal feel. Most incurves reach up to 8 inches in height. Goldfield is one of the most common incurve types of chrysanthemums. As the name suggests Goldfield produces golden-yellow flowers.
Regular incurves are more uniform than the informal cultivars. They also tend to be rounder and more compact. Moira is a particularly attractive incurve variety producing mauve or lavender flowers throughout the fall.
Incurves are particularly attractive flowers.
Intermediate curve mums such as St Tropez are increasingly popular thanks to their small, fluffy-esque blooms. Adding to the attraction of St Tropez is the plant’s bright red petals which are decorated with bronze tips.
Reflex mums are identified by their elegant, overlapping petals that droop away from the flat center of the plant. Typically globe shaped, the flowers are 4 to 5 inches wide. Often flowering in shades of orange, other colors are also available with the darker flowering varieties being particularly attractive. Joyce Fountain is a reliable, red flowering variety. Here the petals delicately fall away to reveal the yellow center of the flower.
Most reflex mums grow to about 6 inches in height. Some reflex mum flowers tend to have a slight or intermediate curve. On these specimens the petals are shorter than irregular incurves. Bob Dear is a bright yellow flowering variety.
The arrangement of the petals adds interest to the plants.
10 Decorative Types of Mums
These can vary in their size and petal arrangement. Some can be flat and cushioned with no inward curving petals. Most varieties can exceed 5 inches in height.
One of the more popular varieties is Lexy. Prized for its flowers, which are noticeably smaller than many types of chrysanthemums, Lexi’s blooms have attractive dark centers and bronze petals. Honeyglow is a medium sized flower which is amber in color. Other reliable varieties include Tobago and Indian Summer.
Unclassified Types of Mums
There are types of chrysanthemums such as Lone Star which don’t fit into any of the categories listed above. Typically the flowers are at least 6 inches wide and often have large, exotic petals. Despite this they still resemble other types of chrysanthemums.
Other unclassified types of chrysanthemums include:
- Yellow Sizzle, an attractive yellow or dark orange flowering variety,
- Red Bradford produces deep burgundy or paprika colored flowers,
- Focus is a particularly attractive variety, known for its bright yellow flowers with green centers,
- Orange Viking is a reliable, bronze or orange colored type.
Chrysanthemum flowers come in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes.
General Chrysanthemum Care Tips
Whichever chrysanthemum variety you are growing, these are largely easy going low maintenance plants.
When selecting your plants make sure that they are suited to growing in your USDA Zone. Planting in a favorable position also makes ongoing care a lot easier. Most types of chrysanthemums are full sun loving plants that struggle in shadier spots. Ideally the plants should receive at least 5 hours of sunlight every day. In darker positions the plants may become weak and flowering may not be as profuse.
While they are not picky, mums do best in well draining soil that is neutral. Thriving in sandy, light soils, if your soil is heavier, work some compost in before planting to improve drainage.
Even though they are fall flowering, most types of chrysanthemums are best planted in the spring. This gives them lots of time to establish themselves before the weather changes and the flowering season begins.
You can plant mums in flower beds, pots and planters. When planting ensure that the hole is at least twice the size of the root ball. Space the plants around 18 inches apart, this can vary depending on the types of chrysanthemums you are planting so check the plant information label before you begin. Correctly spacing your plants helps to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew. After planting mulch and water well.
Water your plants regularly during dry or warm spells. Chrysanthemum plants have shallow root systems meaning that they can quickly start to dry out. If you struggle to know when to water your plants a soil moisture meter is a handy little gadget. An Alkey Soil Moisture Meter not only measures soil moisture levels it also records the soils pH levels and how much light the plants are receiving. This is all useful information that can be used to make sure your plants are healthy and thriving.
Mulching the soil around the plants, particularly during the warm summer months helps to keep them cool and hydrated.
While mums don’t require fertilization, a diluted dose of a balanced plant food applied once during the growing season can boost their growth and flowering habit. Water soluble fertilizers, such as Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food, can be easily incorporated into your watering routine.
Pruning occasionally can help to encourage growth and flowering. Pinching out also encourages flowering and, in shrubby types of chrysanthemums, bushier growth. Don’t pinch out your plants until they are at least 6 inches tall. Pruning should not be done within 100 days of the average blooming period. Pruning too close to the flowering time can deter flowering. As with other plants, the best time to prune is when flowering has finished for the year. At this point the plants can be cut back to about 4 inches in height.
For more on adding chrysanthemum plants to your garden, check out our detailed chrysanthemum care and planting guide.
Many types of chrysanthemums bring a number of benefits to both the garden and grower. A chrysanthemum tea is a great way to relieve a number of illnesses and conditions such as colds, varicose veins, tinnitus, headaches, eye inflammation, anxiety and sore throats. The plants are a good source of Vitamin C, iron, calcium, fibre, iron and a number of other helpful vitamins and elements. To make a chrysanthemum tea simply pick some flowers and seep them in hot water for around 10 minutes. Brewing the flowers in a tea pot allows you to keep the essential oils.
Easy to care for and endlessly fascinating, mums are a wonderful addition to the fall garden.
A great way to add color to the fall garden many types of chrysanthemums are also a good choice to reduce air pollution. Helping to add greenery, color and structure to otherwise barren spaces, the versatility of the many types of chrysanthemums currently available means that the plants are a reliable way to add both color and interest to any outdoor space.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.