Chrysanthemums are a traditional – and perhaps trite – plant for adding color to the fall garden. People usually plant them in September, enjoy them until the first frost hits and then toss them in the compost, ready to repeat the process again the following year.

Those gardeners are treating chrysanthemums as annuals, even though they’re actually perennials and will come back year after year if treated right – which would be more sustainable and save you money.

Chrysanthemums are traditional fall plants. Photo by Nelea33/Shutterstock Nelea33/Shutterstock

First, pick a location with at least five hours of sun each day. Water the ground around them, not the leaves, heavily when you first plant them and regularly after that. If they’re in full sun, they may require daily watering.

Chrysanthemums come in many styles. The blossoms can be shaped like daisies, pompoms or anemones or they may have long, curved spidery petals. The colors can be typical fall hues, such as orange, maroon and yellow, or less traditional hues, like pink and white.

The earlier you plant chrysanthemums, the better their chances to survive the winter. To give them the very best chance, you’d plant them in the spring – but since most garden centers sell them only in the fall, you’d have to start your own seed.

“Clara Curtis” is one of the hardiest varieties, but it’s pink. “Mary Stoker,” with yellow single flowers, and “Apricot Moneymaker,” with bronze anemone-type flowers, seem more suited to fall. The University of Minnesota Extension has a long list of hardy varieties; go to extension.umn.edu/garden/.

Once the chrysanthemums are established, you should cut the stems in half so the plants don’t get too tall and flop over.