There are a wide variety of colorful Chrysanthemums, many of which originated in China. The most common variety is a hybrid called Chrysanthemum morifolium. This decorative herbaceous perennial is famous around the world and often associated with fall, as this is when their attractive, bright blooms tend to appear.
Mums are usually classified as garden hardy or exhibition type. The hardy variety can be grown more successfully as perennials in temperate climates outdoors. The exhibition type tends to be grown as an annual, kept in pots indoors or, most commonly, used as cut flowers for bouquets which last up to 14 days.
The spider mum (also sometimes called the Fuji mum) isn't typically considered an incredibly hardy variety. It has a delicate, attractive and distinctive appearance which makes it a popular addition for floral displays for special occasions or for use in indoor containers. It gets its name because of its long, thin, tubular, drooping petals that resemble curling spider legs or a bursting firework.
This mum has a large flower head that can grow up to six inches in width, depending on the cultivar.
|Botanical Name||Chrysanthemum morifolium (previously syn. C. × grandiflorum)|
|Common Name||Spider mum, Fuji mum|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||Up to six feet tall (although normally around two foot)|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun / partial shade|
|Soil Type||Humus-rich and well-drained|
|Soil pH||Tolerates a variety, but prefers slightly acidic|
|Bloom Time||Late summer and fall|
|Flower Color||Wide variety including yellow, pink, red, white, and purple|
|Hardiness Zones||6 to 9|
|Native Area||Asia and northeastern Europe (predominantly China though)|
How to Grow Spider Mums
Spider mums can be grown outdoors, but this will be limited to regions that have mild fall temperatures. If you plan to plant established mums, it's best to do this in the spring (being sure any late frosts have passed).
The plants commonly sold in full bloom in nurseries in the summer and early fall are usually past their peak, and they won't stay in bloom for as long in your garden.
Try to select plants with unopened buds to maximize their longevity. This will allow the plant to put some of their energy into establishing the roots to give them a better chance of surviving the winter.
Spider mums do best in a sunny position. They prefer to get at least six hours of full sun a day. Your mums should still survive in a partial shade location, but they won't usually produce such an impressive floral display.
As with most mum varieties, the spider variation needs a well-drained soil. They'll do best if that soil is fertile, loose, and slightly acidic, too. Mum enthusiasts often add peat moss or other organic composting amendments to keep them happy.
Spider mums usually appreciate daily watering during their growth period. The soil should be moist but not water-logged. Wait until the top of the soil is dry before watering again and try to avoid soaking the leaves.
Wet leaves can cause mildew and mums can also be susceptible to the Septoria chrysanthemella fungi, whose spores are transferred during watering.
Even in the winter, it's a good idea to keep the soil damp as this will improve the chances of a successful hibernation period.
Temperature and Humidity
Spider mums will do well kept in containers indoors. If you plan to try to overwinter them outdoors, this will only be possible if you live in a region that doesn't experience much frost.
Mulching the soil around your spider mum can help them cope if the temperatures drop to near-freezing. If you expect the temperatures to drop further, it would be best to move them to a garage or other sheltered indoor space. Bringing them into the heat of the main house can cause the flowers to bloom later than normal, and they may form irregularly.
Spider mums appreciate being fed a liquid fertilizer regularly in advance of their blooming period. This will help them produce strong and impressive flowers. From July, once they're in bloom, don't apply any feed until the spring again.
Propagating Spider Mums
In the right conditions, spider mums can be propagated through spring stem cuttings or by the division of an established and healthy plant. Division is recommended every few years anyway to promote longevity and healthy regrowth.
If you're growing your spider mums from seeds, don't sow them too deep as the root system is shallow. Make sure you allow at least 18 inches of space between each plant to prevent overcrowding.
Potting and Repotting
If you plan to keep your potted Spider Mums in containers, it's a good idea to transfer them to a bigger container after purchase to allow the roots to move and grow.
Experts suggest that unpruned mums are more likely to survive chillier winters than those that have been cut back. If you do plan to cut the plants back, it's best to do this in early spring.
Pinching every few weeks while the plant is in growth during spring and early summer can help to reduce the chances of your Spider Mum becoming overly leggy.