Hardy mums are popular
fall-blooming plants. Unfortunately, sometimes they are not as hardy
as we'd like. There are some truly hardy mums, however, that come
back reliably year after year and get bigger and better every year.
In recent years, there has been a
lot of work done with improving the hardiness of chrysanthemums (now
reclassified as dendranthema, botanically, but still "mums"
to most gardeners). The University of Minnesota has had an ongoing
mum breeding program since the 1920s and in the last five years has
introduced a series of truly hardy mums called the "My
The mum varieties in this series
are hardy to zone 3 (winter minimum temperature of -40F). Truly hardy
mums, these varieties grow between one and three feet high and wide
and form a spherical shape at maturity. They get their handsome shape
with no pinching or pruning. The plants are completely covered with
flowers when in bloom, forming perfect cushions of color. Their
flowers are frost tolerant so they have extended bloom periods beyond
are five varieties in the "My Favorite" series of hardy
mums. 'Autumn Red' bears maroon, single, daisy-like flowers with a
bright-golden-yellow center. The single flowers begin blooming in
late September and continue into October. They withstand frost and
will continue blooming until a hard freeze, giving them one of the
longest bloom periods of any mum. This variety has a mature size of
three feet high and as wide.