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Fall Chrysanthemum Show


Every year, the Fall Chrysanthemum Show begins the first Saturday in November and runs through the third weekend. This annual flower show has taken place since the early 1900s and has become a beloved college and community tradition. 

mum show

About the show

Botanic garden staff and horticulture students begin preparing for the Chrysanthemum Show months ahead to ensure that everything is ready on opening night. 

Oversized blooms, known as standards, grow atop stems that can reach seven feet, with flowers in various shapes and colors. Cascades, pot mums, and home-grown hybrids created by Smith horticulture students fill every possible space in the show houses. 

Standards produce a singular enormous flower by a process of continuously removing all the axillary flower buds and branches as the plant grows. This technique also results in very tall plants, which can stretch to heights as great as seven feet. The mum varieties grown as standards are chosen for their unexpected and dramatic shapes and colors.



Cascades are a striking feature of the show where certain varieties are trained up walls, or into downward flowing displays. This method requires a ten-month training period during which the stems are pinned to wire frames. The buds are pinched periodically to encourage branching and to increase the number of flower buds.


cascading mum

Hybrid propagation has been a student tradition at Smith since the early 1900s. Today, students in Experiential Learning Specialist Gaby Immerman's course, BIO 125: Plants in the Landscape, learn hybridization techniques, producing new crosses which are grown out and exhibited in the following year’s show. Students gather pollen from the show, clip off petals to expose reproductive structures, and create hybrids for next year's show. In so doing, they demonstrate their understanding of plant anatomy and physiology while breeding their own hybrid chrysanthemums. These one-of-a-kind creations are then exhibited for Fall Mum Show attendees, who are invited to vote for their favorite student hybrid. The winner is then inducted into the Mum Show Hall of Fame.