Chrysanthemums are the quintessential fall plant. They have been around for generations, and no porch would be complete without these color-popping plants once autumn rolls around.
Just because the crop has a long history, it doesn’t mean that the product line has gone stale. Breeders are continually updating the plant selections available.
“We have a very active breeding program, and our breeders are consistently improving mums to come to the market,” says Liz Hunt, senior marketing manager for Syngenta Flowers. Syngenta offers Yoder mums, one of the mainstay names in the chrysanthemum universe.
While improved breeding is important, it’s also imperative that growers know what is hot in mum trends so that they can offer retailers the best selection for their areas and customers. Hunt and Bernard Chodyla, GroLink’s Belgian mum technical support for the U.S. and Canada, point out some high points for mums.
Trend Watch: Combination Planters
Both Hunt and Chodyla confirm that mixed-color containers are rising in popularity again. These mixed containers can include pairings of colors or three varieties that complement one another.
“Families in particular are easy to use in combinations,” Hunt says. “Colors can also appeal to different markets.” Hunt has noticed a trend where consumers want “fresh colors,” such as lighter pinks first, followed by the traditional harvest tones, such as oranges, later.
One combination that Hunt sees rising is non-traditional mum colors paired with pinks or whites. “More pastel-y colors work. Our two-tone Peach Fusion and Orange Fusion have been great with pinks and whites to complement them,” Hunt says.
“Mixed-color containers are definitely coming back,” Chodyla says, noting that he likes the Padre family of combinations. “Padres are a very popular family that has been around for about 10 years, and they are great for these containers.” He recommends using 10-inch or larger pots for the combinations. Nearly every large grower has to dedicate a portion of containers to mixed colors now, Chodyla says.
Bigger Plants = Bigger Profits
Chodyla has also seen a rise in retailers wanting larger products and pots to offer to consumers. While growers can start with packs and quarts early in the season, retailers are looking to finish out the season with a bigger bang. “Everyone wants larger mums now,” he says.
Chodyla has seen a rise in interest for 24-by-24-inch mums as well. He attributes this to some of the larger home-improvement stores competing with one another for bigger sales.
Mums Go Red
Red has always been a popular fall color, although red mums have had a tendency to fade and lose color in the past.
GroLink developed a line of Red Elite Belgian mums that includes a winner for each part of the season. ‘Granata Red’ and ‘Camina Red’ are for early September; ‘Pobo Red’ and ‘Amadora Red’ are for mid-September; and ‘Pavia Red’ and ‘Savona Red’ are for late September. ‘Lava Red’ is best in early October, while ‘Contiki Red’ finishes the season in mid-October.
Syngenta also has two new reds from the Yoder mum line: ‘Wanda Red’ and ‘Danielle Red.’ ‘Wanda Red’ has a bold color that will fit in well with the rest of the family. ‘Danielle Red’ has a perfect, sphere-shaped habit for a midseason red decorative. It can be used as a red with the new Chelsey family, as well as in combinations with the new ‘Danielle Purple.’
Yellow Still Tops In Popularity
“Yellow is still our most popular color by far,” Chodyla says. Yellows are a little more popular in the South than in the North, but overall they make up 35 percent of GroLink’s mum demand.
GroLink added three new yellows to its line for 2013: ‘Espero Yellow,’ ‘Amiko Yellow’ and ‘Aluga Yellow.’ All three have the traits for which Belgian mums are known. Belgian mums are no pinch, so they save labor and are easy to grow. They are easy to ship without breakage and have more flowers that provide a better show and sales at retail. Plants also have the traditional ball shape of Belgian mums.
Joe Bergen, project manager for mums for Fides Oro, agrees that yellow is still the top color. Fides Oro has seven yellow variations in its new Mystic Mums line.
Syngenta’s new ‘Babette Yellow’ is a rich-yellow, late-season extender decorative mum that times well with the Barbie family. This Yoder variety has a 7.5-week response in shade and a natural-season response on Oct. 16. Plants have a mounded habit and are recommended for natural-season production.
New Family For Midseason
Syngenta is offering the new four-member Chelsey family from Yoder to fit the midseason flowering window. The family is positioned to upgrade the Victoria family in the future, and it has larger flowers, a rounder plant habit and more uniform flowering. Flowers are decorative and are available in yellow, pink, coral and white.
All four Chelsey members can be used in combinations to create a unique look for fall. Plants are very versatile so they can be used for spring, shaded, West Coast and natural-season production.
Fides Creates New Mystic Mums Program
Fides Oro’s Mystic Mums brand represents more than 45 years of chrysanthemum breeding experience and grower support. The 27 mums in the series are bred to have larger flowers, a flexible mounding plant habit, unique colors, great color retention and outstanding shelf life.
When choosing the mums to include, Fides Oro went to the source. “The selection process was done all with American growers,” Bergen says. For the past three years, growers have been critiquing the plants to be included. However, the process doesn’t end there. Bergen drives around the country and grades the mums so that Fides Oro has accurate data regarding response time and flowering.
The Mystic Mums brand also uses a unique naming convention based on meteorological terms. “We were breeding for a simpler system,” Bergen says. “The series of names makes sense. Once you’re familiar with the system, you can see the whole program.”
The series starts with ‘Daybreak,’ and then progresses to ‘Sunbeam’, ‘Meridian,’ ‘Eventide’ and ‘Afterglow,’ with each name flowering later in the season. The entire line was also bred to resist white rust, Bergen says. Since the largest mum consumers are in the Northeast, it was important to keep white rust in mind, he says
A Mum For Everyone
The outlook for mum’s continuing popularity is bright. To help growers do their best with these plants, Syngenta created growing charts that are tailored for product categories, including West Coast, big containers and spring crops, to name a few. “We are trying to provide programs that specify what growers need,” Hunt says. She has confidence that mums are here to stay.
Chodyla agrees. “Mums are easy to grow,” Chodyla says. “They will stay popular.”