The Sheffies

Perhaps the title suggested to you that this post was going to be about some neighbors in our area. In fact we did have people in the house across the street from us with the last name of Sheffey for a time. They have moved to Texas. No, today’s topic is the Chrysanthemum koreanum ‘Sheffield Pink’, aka ‘Hillside Pink Sheffield’.  (Hardy in zones 4-9).  The name has been changed from the mum moniker to Dendranthema morifolium, but I am in total denial of that change and refuse to call this class of plants anything but mums. Our little gulf fritillary agrees that these are now and always will be mums.Our plant was purchased from a local nursery  the first year we began the garden, 2000. Knowing little about the difference in mums we asked the owner about the hardiness of her offerings. We had a spotty record of getting mums to return for a second year in our other Tennessee house and wondered what we were doing wrong. She told us that the varieties offered at this time of year that look like big mounds of cupcakes are not grown for hardiness but for bloom form and numbers. She went on to say that the truly hardy mums for us were the Korean mums, which are limited in color selections. There was a lavender and white daisy type flower and the apricot pink that we ended up bringing home. ~ Does that look like a honeybee? We are awash in this type of bee but thought the honeybees were on the decline.The new mums were planted on the slope behind the main house and flowered prolifically. Each year they spread to wider areas with their sweet rosettes of foliage. We began a regimen of adding pieces of this mum to every bed that seemed a little lackluster in the fall season. ~ Can you see the little striped legging wearing spider? I believe this is one of the babies from the great hatching that occurred on the zinnias not too long ago. Or not.The sheffies as we have come to call them with affection have been planted far and wide here. There is never a problem with lack of vigor or bloom in sun or shade or lack of rainfall. This patch is along the middle terrace backed by some salvia greggii. A teensy bit of muhly grass is trying to sneak into the shot. No Muhly, it is not your turn!Well maybe you can share the stage with the sheffies in this photo. This is the site of the original planting. The maniacal pruning of the Chinese Elm is done in part to allow the sheffies room to reach their blooming potential.This is the patch along the step stones by the long pyracantha border. The flowers flop onto the path, but we happily step over them in exchange for the burst of color they give us every October without fail.There are a couple of bits growing in front of the shrub border behind the sedum Matrona and among the many deciduous azaleas backed by the Chamaecyparis ‘Gold Mop’ hedge.There is a mass of them at the garage side trying to take over the blue star junipers. This is the spot to extract pieces to give to guests and family.In the most awful spot of soil in the garden, under the tall pines at the property edge in front, these have filled in nicely and brighten the dark area. The blue flowers in the photo are Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’. Also in the shot is the damaged trunk of the forest pansy redbud, still alive and looking better than ever even after a falling branch from the pines tore the little tree in half last winter. If you click on the picture you can see the wound is trying to heal.In researching the correct name of this plant it was learned that others growing it have seen changes in the siblings in the way of double flowers and color variations. We have one such circumstance of color changing, shown above. This flower, from the same mother plant is a much more yellow color. It is the only one with this mutation and we love its dusky glow.Here it is in situ backed by fothergilla beginning its color changing ways and a pink dogwood to the left laden with red berries. Front left is the metal pineapple sculpture that was a surprise birthday gift from The Financier while we lived in Texas. Let’s see if I can find that post to give you a link. Ah, here it is.
If you hate mums and the overkill of the big box stores and even quality nurseries that are flooded with pinched and turbo charged balls of color this time of year, please give the sheffies a try. There is no pinching, feeding or coddling necessary. The look is natural and the flower color blends so well with the changing leaf color of trees and shrubs of all sorts. Highly recommended by the Fairegarden. Added: for a really fantastic photo of the sheffies, see Christopher C. of Outside Clyde’s bloom day post here.

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38 Responses to The Sheffies

  1. Lovely photo captures of the butterflies and bee.

    Hi Crafty, thanks. The butterfly followed me around from patch to patch, I guess he wanted to be in the post!

  2. Jane says:

    Your pictures are great. I think that is a honeybee or at least what I’ve always thought are honeybees when I see them!

    Hi Jane, thanks and welcome. Are you the same Jane that has won the honorable prize of UK winner in the LAPCPADPOUB? If so, your entry was a true winner. You can read the pome here.

  3. layanee says:

    This is the last to bloom in my garden and I have long loved its’ peachy pink petals. You still have an abundance of bloom in your garden but then again, you are further south and can continue to garden for a bit longer can’t you? When does your season ‘end’.

    Hi Layanee, thanks. We still have some blooms for another month or so. I would say the growing season ends sometime after thanksgiving. But the garden is still very beautiful during the winter with berries and evergreens chosen for winter color. It is a calmer time but still lots going on.

  4. Gail says:

    Frances, I love the long view with the sculpture from The Financier! The reds, oranges and pinkish mums look striking. I am glad to finally see these wonderful mums having heard you and Tina reference them. They are a great looking plant, easy to grow, with so much to recommend them. I love the shots with the sweet visitors..Isn’t it good to see the honeybees? Looks like rain here sometime soon, how about over the mountain?

    Hi Gail, thanks. I have decided there always needs to be a long view in the posts, for the reality of the garden to show. You will definitely be going home with some sheffies, among other things. They are calling for a little rain to come through tonight and lower our temps. Not enough to do much, I continue to water newly moved and planted things.

  5. Joy says:

    Frances .. is it hardy to at least zone 5 I wonder ? .. that pink is such a delicate looking colour it would blend in with so many plants .. I am very interested in this one and will be on the look out for it now I have seen yours !

    Hi Joy, I checked and Bluestone Perennials say it is hardy zones 4-9! Hooray! Do try it, the color goes with everything and it blooms when there are not a lot of things happening. I gave some to Christopher of Outside Clyde who lives on a mountaintop in North Carolina, zone 5. His bloomed much earlier than mine, by about a month, so they may be triggered to bloom by a certain temp.

  6. Randy says:

    Your mums are fantastic. I love the simple daisy like flowers! They shall certainly be an addition to our garden. Hope your day is wonderful. 🙂

    Hi Randy, thanks. I would be happy to send you some along with the muhly later in the season. They can be transplanted any time. Thanks for sharing that photo of your mums and fritt, what a coincidence, or is it??? ;->


  7. Marnie says:

    Frances, those look great in your garden. I plan to do some research and see if they are hardy in my area. I’d love to try some. They may not be hardy and it’s likely they bloom so late that the hard freezes would beat them to it.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. Bluestone Perennials said they were hardy zone 4-9. As I told Joy, they seem to bloom according to a certain temp, so yours would bloom sooner than mine in zone 7. Good luck with them!

  8. Dave says:

    Very nice mums! It looks like a peaceful and calming mum as opposed to the mounded mum balls. I like the strategy of adding a little to each garden that needed a fall boost.

    Hi Dave, thanks. This is a great mum. I have Tina some, maybe she will share. ;-> They multiply very rapidly but are not invasive at all. I have spent years studying my garden to see what needs something added or subtracted to make it more attractive. And as you know, free plants are the best. No need to do the rooting routine with theses, a stem pulled from the edge has many fresh roots. Just plant, water and forget it. That is my method of rooting everything anyway. lol

  9. Jean says:

    Thanks for enlightening me about them. I’ll definitely be looking for them. I have not been that fond of mums because they never looked very natural, but as you explained, there are two kinds out there. Thanks Frances!

    Hi Jean, you are most welcome. I had to spread the word about these and was waiting for them to peak to show everyone that not all mums look like those montrosities. I have been known to buy very small pots of the other mums because of the wonderful colors, but they are not very hardy here. These are good zones 4-9.

  10. skeeter says:

    Okay, am I loosing my mind or are you changing the header pic? lol… I think these mums look like daisies. I must get my mums moved… The gulf continues to hang around here also! He is my favorite this year as I just discovered him.

    Hi Skeeter, whatever are you talking about? LOL Yes, I have been changing the header photo with each post unless the one from before matches the tone I am trying to set. It is fun to do and not that difficult. I pick a photo when I have finished loading the pictures onto the draft. These mums are daisy like, maybe that is why they are more hardy than most of the doubles. I love the little fritt too, we have lots of them due to the invasive weed passion vine that I allow only for the butterflies it feeds.

  11. nancybond says:

    Beautiful mums, Frances. Mums, like daisies and pansies, have such happy little faces. The butterfly photo at the top is particularly lovely.

    Hi Nancy, thanks. That butterfly followed my around as I was snapping shots of the mums at their peak. He of course had to be included in the post. ;->

  12. joey says:

    I think perhaps ‘The Sheffies’ would make lovely companion plants in my autumn garden, Frances. Thanks for sharing another thoughtful post.

    Hi Joey, thanks. This is a plant no garden should be without for bloom time, color and ease of care.

  13. It’s a nice change to see mums put to good use. Those are usually just potted around here. My pink muhly is finally in plume! I moved it this year to put it behind some salvia greggii ‘Dark Dancer’ and a ‘white chocolate’ crape myrtle. I think the move changed the schedule. Do you divide yours in spring during the cut-back? Cameron

    Hi Cameron, thanks. Good for you with the muhly. I agree that may have set it back a little. Or it might be temp driven, I can never tell what makes these things start the blooming process. Your combo sounds divine! I have some red salvia greggiis among the muhly too, a good match. Try knockout roses also. I have found the time to divide with the fewest losses is in late winter here, March is good. The soil is cool and there is plenty of moisture. I still water them well. We find seedlings scattered here and there also, they transplant better than the larger plants, less trama to the shallow root system. You learn to identify the muhly babies, the color is more blue than the weed grasses. I have suffered many losses dividing them but keep at it to get that mass effect. The sheffies and muhly are good companions too, starring in the garden during the same season.

  14. Racquel says:

    Those are wonderful looking mums Frances. I prefer the daisy type myself over the pom pom shaped ones you see at the big box stores at this time of the year. Thanks for all the great info, might be another one to add to my list along with the Mulhy grass. After seeing that in your garden I noticed it was planted in a border in front of my favorite steakhouse.

    Hi Racquel, thanks, they are great mums. Seeing the muhly means that it is hardy in your zone? Good deal.

  15. Brenda Kula says:

    I don’t seem to have much luck with mums. I planted a huge one in the ground this year, and it immediately just kind of fell over. It was so lush, but I think overgrown. I cut it back. Not much else to do it looked so bad…
    Brenda P.S. By the way, would you mind changing my link to instead of The Brenda Blog? I am confusing a lot of folks, unfortunately, with this change to WordPress. I followed you!

    Hi Brenda, sounds like you need some sheffies! The Korean mums are so carefree, those other mums are not meant for gardens, but look better in pots and then composted at the end of the season. So sorry to not figure out about the link, it is fixed now. I know how it is to try and change over. I still am getting so many looks at the blogger blog even though I have been leaving my new url every time I leave a comment. What you did by speaking up is the best way to get one’s attention. Hope you are liking wordpress. I do.

  16. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Wow Frances, those pictures of your Sheffies are marvelous especially with the butterfly and bee. I was sort of surprised that you have gulf frittilaries but then again you are much further south than we are.

    Hi Lisa, thanks. We are nowhere near the gulf, I thought maybe we had brought some eggs with us in the move from Texas, but saw the same butterflies at Gail’s in Nashville. This must still be their zone. We grow the passionvine for the caterpillars, it is their larval food. Did you see the photo of the sheffies in Christopher’s (Outside Clyde) bloom day post? His are incredible.

  17. Chloe.M says:


    Those are a really lovely way to close the gardening year! And I love the name ‘Sheffies”‘- infinitely better than ‘mums’.

    Wonder how they’d do in my coastal zone 10 (or 24, Western Sunset Gardening Book)


    Hi Chloe, thanks. They are the last big bang of the growing season although there will still be pretty leaves and vignettes all winter. The one source that had this info, Bluestone Perennials, said zones 4-9, so I’m not sure if they will work for you. But might be worth a try.

  18. Kim says:

    Frances, your Sheffies are spectacular! So another FaireGarden resident is added to my list of things to look for in the spring. I’ve never been that crazy about mums, but I would like some fall color, and how could you NOT fall in love with those Sheffies? Thanks for showing how beautiful they can be. (although I need to stop this “must have-itis” as I think I might be running out of room!)

    Hi Kim, thanks. I do the same thing when visiting other’s blogs too, making notes of good plants that might enhance the vision here. But really, those sheffies are hard to beat. They are carefree, spreading but not invasive and offer a color that is unique but blends so well with the fall foliage color at this time. They do well under shrubs too. Are you sold yet? ;->

  19. Oh goody. Now I am sure I will be able to savage the Sheffie into lots of sprigs and spread it about. That front bed seemed to be particularly fertile from the composted weeds I sprayed and killed and the mulch layer. Plus it is in full sun. I didn’t pinch or trim the Sheffie at all. Perhaps our general coolness at this elevation kept it more compact as well.

    HA Christopher, yes goody for you! That is exactly what I did the first year after seeing how fantastic a plant this was. It loves to be savaged. ;-> That is good soil, I remember what the ironweed looked like there, much larger than mine. I have found that having patches of the sheffies draws the eye up the slope in a zig zag pattern, very pleasing. Glad you will have some fun with it. You will see how many roots are on each sprig too, very gratifying.

  20. Meems says:

    I don’t blame you, Frances, for spreading this lovely ‘not so ordinary’ mum around to the lackluster areas… what a show it makes at a great time of year … just when you want to see a flower give out its rays of joy. I’m going to take your recommendation and check into finding it for next year… maybe it will like my garden too. I haven’t seen it in our garden stores. When I was at my favorite nursery today they tried to talk up those not so attractive pom-pom shaped ones you see everywhere this time of year. No thanks, said I (very politely).

    Indigo spires are one of my favorites. I had some in the ground this summer and they got to over 4 feet tall and just as wide… the bees just can’t stay away from them.

    I enjoyed visiting with your critters today… they are a treat any day.
    Meems @Hoe&Shovel

    Hi Meems, thanks so much. The sheffies are worth searching for. Zone 9 was listed as the southern limit, does that include your garden? Hope so! I wasn’t sure the indigo spires would over winter here, but it has. That spot under the tall pines is terrible soil. It is where the contractor dumped the slimy clay from the digging of the foundation for the renovation of the main house. I should have made him truck it away. It lines the front edge of that bed and nothing does well there. Farther back towards the tree trunks the soil is much better, but so dry from the trees also. Just a tough spot. I have moved some of that salvia to a better spot and hope it gets bigger. It is a blooming machine.


  21. Steve says:

    What a great plant! I look far and wide for seasonal things such as this. I particularly like its ease of care. Thanks for a great suggestion, Frances! They can be my fall equivalent to Shasta Daisies in summers and, yes, nurseries here have them. Cool!

    Hi Steve, you are welcome, you just can’t stay away from writing in pink! LOL This is the best mum in my opinion and has a similarity to the shasta daisies too. Hooray that you have access to them. May they grow well and prosper in your garden. ;->

  22. Rose says:

    Thanks for all the helpful info, Frances. I haven’t planted any “real” mums in a long time. I can’t resist buying the large colorful ones sold this time of year–they just shout “Autumn” to me. But I know they don’t last, and they usually wind up on the compost heap in the winter. But these Korean Sheffies look like a winner, especially if they spread this easily.

    Hi Rose, you are very welcome. Do look for the sheffies, they are totally different animal and so so hardy. They blend well in the landscape with all colors and forms too. Hope you can find some.

  23. tina says:

    I just got back from a long trip and guess what is blooming in the garden??? The sheffie you gave me! It is the apricot pink color and so darned happy. When I saw the title of this post I could just cry Frances. It has been a long few days on the road and I was so happy to see this spot of color. I hope mine spread like yours. And guess what, I copied the new botanical name to my garden catalog but I PROMISE to never call it by that! Always sheffies from Frances. Okay?

    Oh Tina, welcome back and that warms my heart, thanks so much. Seeing a big bouquet of flowers blooming happily in the garden is so cheering, especially this time of year when flowers are a little more scarce. I’m sure yours will spread and you can put pieces wherever you would like to see some pretty daisy like blooms. The foliage is attractive too. I am honored to be associated with this plant in your garden. ;->

  24. jodi says:

    These are just wonderful, Frances. Such a lovely soothing colour and so very prolific. I too get exasperated with the changing of botanical names, and tend to resist them. Just cos I’m a bit of a curmudgeon, of course!

    Hi Jodi, so nice to see you. The color is very pleasing, not really pink, more salmony and very generous with their flowers and spreading, but not too much. I don’t understand the name changing on this one especially, and encourage all curmudgeons. ;->

  25. Victoria says:

    I know what you mean about the usual ‘mums’ look (especially combined with pumpkins at Halloween) but this looks completely different, so natural and relaxed. I love the clouds of Muhly too.

    Hi Victoria, thanks. Natural is the word here, and they are good neighbors to other plants in the garden too, unlike the cupcake mounds. The muhly is about done and will fade to straw, but is still attractive.

  26. Marie says:

    Wonderful post! Beautiful photos!

    Have a nice weekend 🙂

    Hi Marie, so nice to see you here, thanks for visiting.

  27. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! I have loved seeing this beautiful plant in the OutsideClyde posts. What a special addition to his garden you shared with him! And now it is fun knowing the background of the Sheffie. I have added this to my list of “need to look for plants”. I would only hope that some day it looks just as beautiful in my garden too. :))

    Hi Siria, thanks. Christopher has a magic touch with plants, as you have seen. His sheffies provoke envy in my own, for they are puny compared to his. I am sure you will have some lovely sheffies to call your own someday too. ;->

  28. kerri says:

    Frances, I saw this beautiful mum recently in my Garden Gate magazine and fell in love with it. After reading this post and seeing how prolifically it grows in your garden I’m absolutely smitten! I envy those neighbors and guests who are the recipients of cuttings. It certainly seems to be an easy plant for you!
    Thanks for sharing its beauty.
    I also loved reading about offspring Semi’s garden. How lovely to garden with your daughter. You are lucky indeed!
    Have a lovely Sunday Frances! I hope your recent health problem has completely cleared up by now.

    Hi Kerri, thanks so much for the kind words. My dizziness is in check right now, I just have to not have my head upside down, very bad when that happens. The sheffies are equal or surpass all the hype they have gotten in the Washington Post article and more. Maybe they will become more readily available as a result.

  29. Kathleen says:

    Now there’s a mum I can get onboard with. It’s beautiful and I agree with your other posters that it looks “daisy-like” in nature. What is this about passion vine being invasive?? Seriously?? It must be in warmer climates? Our cold keeps most things in check (and kills passion vine) so I had no idea.

    Hi Kim,thanks. Sheffie is a great mum. If you were to only grow one, this is it. Passionvine is native here but does die back in the winter. The roots are hardy and continue to grow in the winter, plus there are seeds from the large green fruits everywhere. I let it go crazy one year along both sides of a gravel path and it now comes up by the hundreds everywhere in that area. I can only imagine the root system that is undergroud there. I let a couple live and clambor around the deciduous azaleas for the gulf fritallary caterpillars. You can have too much of a good thing. ;->

  30. Lynn says:

    Hi, Loved your info on the Sheffies. They are my newest addition. Regarding the insect that looked like a bee above: it is actually a syrphid fly that mimics the look of a bee. They are good pollinators. Some look like wasps and yellow jackets too, but you can tell because they only have 2 wings.

    Hi Lynn, thanks. Glad you liked the post. You are lucky to have those sheffies, they are the very best of the hardy mums. And thanks on the info of the little fly. A good guy for sure. 🙂

  31. Jennifer says:

    Oooh! I need some of those. I hope the ones I’m finding online are the same. All the pictures I see are much darker than your flowers appear to be.

    Hi Jennifer, thanks and welcome. The flowers are much darker as buds and when they first open, bleaching out with age.

  32. Lynn says:

    Hey Frances,
    Check out my garden blog: I used to teach entomology, so am very familiar with syrphid flies.


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