The differences in varieties of garden mums are not simply the colours. Certain mums are for indoor decor while others are specifically outdoor mums. In our zone, some are perennial, but most sold in September are not. Bloom times vary. Navigating the world of mums can be complicated.
A good garden centre can navigate you through the process so you are pleased with your Fall purchases. You will find a wide selection of colourful garden mums on the outdoor benches in September: burgundy, purple, orange, golden yellow…. Most of these are sold for less than ten dollars and are not typically perennial in our zone. Occasionally people will hit the jackpot with some that do over winter, but, in our area, it usually happens only during a mild winter, in a sheltered area. Hardy perennial mums are available (generally in May and June, sold with other perennial plants) but they usually offer single daisy-like blooms in minimal colours – not the rich, deeply coloured double-type blooms most of us yearn for to put in displays of hay bales, corn stalks and pumpkins.
Indoor Mums are varieties that have large blooms, often in bi-colours or stripes. These are sold in stores, not in outdoor displays. Best on your dining room table, they can be placed outdoors in very sheltered areas, like under a porch. If you are unsure, ask the garden centre staff which mum is which. While indoor mums can be outdoors (sheltered), outdoor mums cannot remain indoors for any length of time.
Mums are bred by colour, by location needs (indoor, outdoor planters or perennial garden) and by season. Early blooming mums are available mid-August and usually finish blooming by the end of September. Mid season mums begin blooming early to mid September and finish near Hallowe’en. Late blooming mums are just cracking colour at Thanksgiving and die with the November frosts.