The long-lasting cut flower we call "mum" is only one variety of the genus Chrysanthemum.

There are over 1,000 varieties in dozens of shades. Included are perennial favorites like Shasta daisies, Feverfew, Spider Mums and Football Mums.

Cultivated in the Orient for more than 2,000 years, chrysanthemums were called "Ki-Ku" or "Queen of the East" in Japan and honored as the personal emblem of the Emperor. Chrysanthemums, from the Greek for "golden flower," were eventually brought back to Europe by botanists and horticulturists in the 17th century.

The National Chrysanthemum Society classifies hardy mums by their flower shapes. These are the Cushions, Daisies, Decoratives, Pompoms and Buttons.

Hardy mums require little fussing over.

Plant in well-drained soil in a sunny location and don't crowd. Set plants 24 to 30 inches apart. Mix with other flowers in a bed or let them stand alone as a border.

Set your pot plants in the ground at the same depth they were in the pots. Backfill and tamp the soil down firmly around the plant. Follow with a thorough watering.

Keep plants watered during summer dry spells. Fertilize 2 or 3 times over the growing season. For the most significant number of flowers, pinch back the stem tips in mid-May, mid-June and mid-July.

Avoid pinching off growth any later. Your efforts will be colorfully rewarded later on.