How To Care for Mums All Season Long

Check out these helpful tips on how to buy, care for, and keep mums growing beautifully year-round.

When it comes to caring for mums, there are a few key tips to keep in mind. Whether you have potted mums or are considering purchasing some, these guidelines will help ensure that your plants thrive and flourish.

How To Pick the Best Mums

Flowering plant - Flower

When choosing mums, opt for the hardy varieties instead of the florist types, as they cannot withstand harsh winters. To differentiate between the two, take note that hardy mums develop a rosette of leaves at the base when they stop blooming. If this rosette is absent, it’s best not to plant the mum in your garden.

Look for plants with vibrant and healthy foliage, free from wilting leaves or blooms, as well as any signs of insect damage or disease.

Ensure that the soil of the mum plant is moist and not dry.

For the most suitable varieties for your growing region, consider purchasing locally-raised mums from a farm or nursery. This is particularly important if you plan to transplant the mum outdoors in your flower bed or display it outside as a potted plant. Garden or hardy mums are more resilient to cooler outdoor temperatures compared to florist mums, which are typically grown as indoor plants.

If you’re selecting potted mums for an event occurring in a few days, choose plants that are abundant with colorful flowers.

For long-term enjoyment, opt for a mum plant that is filled with unopened, tight flower buds rather than one in full bloom. This way, the buds will gradually bloom over several weeks, providing a continuous display of beautiful flowers.

To maintain a garden full of flowering mums throughout the season, choose a variety of mums that bloom at different times, from late summer to mid-fall.

If you’re looking for something unique, besides the traditional decorative overlapping petals, there are mum varieties available with different-shaped blooms. You can choose from exotic florist varieties with pompon or single, daisy-like flowers for indoor use or as a short-term autumnal outdoor decoration. However, it’s important to note that these cultivars are unable to withstand cold weather.

Did you know chrysanthemums are the birth flower of November? Read about the folklore associated with them here!

Caring for Potted Mums

Chrysanthemum - Flower
  • Once you’ve determined the perfect spot to display your mum, place a tray beneath the flower pot to keep the soil moist. It is important to prevent the plant from getting too dry or wilting between watering.
  • Unless the mum is in a very sunny and hot location, watering the plant well, once a day, should be sufficient.
  • When watering, instead of pouring water through the dense flowers, water the plant’s soil.
  • Although fertilizing isn’t necessary for container mums, you may add a water-soluble plant food once a week when watering.
  • Protect your outdoor potted mums from the elements by planting them in outdoor containers such as terracotta, concrete, or resin, with additional potting soil.
  • You can also dig a hole in the ground and set the plant — nursery pot and all — into the soil to help it survive cool nights. Most garden mums should be able to endure a light fall frost. Cover the plants at night when freeze warnings are in effect.
  • To keep the plant attractive and healthy, snip off any dead blossoms as soon as they wilt. However, if you are in a cold climate, leaving the dead foliage on the plants has been found to help the plant survive colder temperatures better than pruned plants.

How to Care for Mums in the Flower Bed

Caring for mums, or chrysanthemums, is a rewarding and enjoyable process. These vibrant and colorful flowers are a popular choice for fall and can bring beauty to any garden or indoor space. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, here are some essential tips on how to care for mums and how to plant them.

When selecting a planting location, keep in mind that mums need at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.

Begin by digging holes slightly larger and deeper than the mums’ root balls. Space the holes about 18 inches apart to ensure proper air circulation.

Place the mums in the holes so that they are level with the ground. Use garden soil to backfill the holes until they are at ground level.

To promote healthy growth, water the mums with a flower and vegetable water-soluble plant food according to the instructions on the label.

After planting, apply a 3-inch layer of mulch.

Water the mums daily or as needed until they become established.

In regions with extremely cold climates, it is recommended to dig up the mums and replant them in containers. During winter, keep potted mums in an unheated garage with a grow light, ensuring that the soil remains barely moist. Return them outdoors after the last spring frost.

Lastly, remember that mums do not thrive in waterlogged conditions. It is best to plant them in containers or raised beds with good drainage. For maximum color impact, plant mums in clusters of three to five of the same cultivars.

Are Mums Annuals or Perennials?

Most mums are sold in garden centers and nurseries as annuals, particularly in growing zones 1 to 4. However, some cultivars are able to withstand below zero temperatures and considered perennials. If you want Chrysanthemums included in your year-round landscape, read the label on the plant or ask your local nurseries for hardy varieties suited for your climate.

Helping Your Mums Survive Winter

For outdoor winter survival, only prune hardy bedding plants in early summer. Do not remove dead mum blooms or prune in fall or winter. Make sure to heavily mulch your planted mums in the fall before freezing temperatures occur.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Head - Ear pain
Deborah Tukua

Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Louis Padron

Can anyone help? My mother purchased tow potts with mums. Everyday she sees the plant or should I say the surroundings all dug up from skunks, squirrels, raccoons, even the cats. None of these critters belong to us. We live in NYC metro area. They also take out the bulbs from the Tulips and chew on it. She gets so mad and furious.

joan wickersham

louis there is a product called critter ridder. it is sprayed around the area of flowers and vegetables that are being messed up. It is well worth the price (not expensive) we get in garden center of big box store. It works on ground hogs, possum, squirrels, moles and chipmunks. They dont come near it. It does not hurt the animal but makes the plants less desirable for them. good luck.

Dianna L Cook

Some critter stuff is moth balls ground up. Here in FL, I have found that lots of people use sulfur granules. We put out Milorganite around our garden to keep the deer and animals, it worked.


In our area N. Oh, we haven’t seen hardy mums in over a decade. Most “Garden Mums” are zone 6 -8 and aren’t grown to be overwintered. They are hybridized to be an annual or at best a tender perennial. They generally don’t have rhizomes. Occassionally they have small offsets that given the optimal conditions they will return. Only if planted in good well drained organic loamy soil with not too much water, and moderate winter with snow cover and not to cold temperatures unless the plants have been shelterd by leaves, staw, or other material to protect them from cold.


I purchased mum’s last year. Put in ground. This year they are 3 times as big as when purchased & blooming profusely. I planted in plain old dirt. Nothing special & did nothing to over winter. ?‍♀️
Northeast ohio

Denise Anderegg

I planted mums in the ground years ago I should have checked the wording

Denise Anderegg

I planted my mums in the grown years ago and they come up every year here in southeast MI

Jesus Suico

I have two white flowering Mums on a plastic pots of about 14 inches top opening. I would like to save them for next season. I live in Oakville , Ontario, Canada. We have lots of snow from December to April.
What can I do to keep them alive for next season.?

A Kelkar

In Newark California, how should I care for Mums planted in garden bed ? Especially through fall and winter?

Linda Edmondson

We live in Eastern NC, I just learned that mums will stay good all winter. I usually don’t do well w/flowers but I love them. My youngest sister can touch something and it will thrive. I want to know do I need to fertilize on the winter or when should I. do it.


My mums are on the porch facing west – is watering once a day enough? Yes

Maureen Ferrante

Can I grow mums on the west coast of Florida?


I live in West Coast of Florida.Have some lovely Mums! So far so good , not too much sun ,and love! ???


I live in Springfield, MO and have overwintered mums in my garage. I kept them by a garage window and watered them a little about every other week. Just enough to not let the roots dry out but they were on the dryer side otherwise they will rot. The leaves will dry out during he winter in the garage so Once they dried out I would brush the leaves off in a bag. Come spring I’d wait to see if there was any green growth from the stem. If I was lucky enough to have growth I’d cut the stem back and little by little move the plant in and out of the garage on warmer days until I was very certain we would have consistently warmer days and nights. Then I would repot the plant in a size larger pot or plant it in the garden. You can also take cuttings from your mum once it’s taller and pot them or plant them in the ground for new plants. Google how to propagate mums….so easy!


I have brought my potted mums into my garage for the SD winter. I need to know when to prune them. Garage is insulated but the temp can get to 40 when we have a big freeze. Not known for a green thumb, I would like to successfully get them through this year.

Ali Jay

I’ve got two large garden mums that grew a lot (and a little late) this summer/fall in my flower bed. They have now begun to split in the center and I’m curious what I should do moving into winter. They look pretty ugly now since they’re splitting, so I want to either cut them back or remove them, depending on what would be advisable. I live in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

Marc Bedard

Hi Bob, so tell me how your mums are doing presently since you placed the pot in your garage?
I live in Ottawa and as you probably know, our winters can be brutal! I had two large pots full of gorgeous yellow mums but after our first frost last week they are now rather sad looking.

I would be real interested in knowing how your mums will survive the winter.

Thank you Bob

Patricia Palmer

I live in Nebraska south of the Omaha area. I don’t know what zone that is. However, I do have mums that are three free around. Do I wait for the blooms to die off and then prune them back and mulch or not? Please advise asap. Thank you

Thomas Hood

I live in eastern NC. I do not object to decorative commercial mums for those who cannot grow their own fall flowers, but bees and butterflies will bless you if you have a spot of ground and can grow zinnias (now on their last legs), marigolds, fall blooming rudbeckia, or hardy sunflowers.


I have found out in the last few years to keep mums trimmed to about 12 inches until July the 4th. I live in Tulsa Ok

Ruthie Schmidt

I live in Roanoke, VA and I have Orange mums in my yard that began as one from my grandkids and have now become eight different plants. DO NOT cut them back after they bloom in the fall. The dead limbs help to protect the plant in the winter. I made that mistake one fall and lost a couple. They will multiply and in the spring you can dig up volunteers and transplant. Mine have lasted for about ten years now.

carol ann thompson

I love mums. They make a beautiful garden. I live in Forest Hill, Louisiana – The Nursery Capitol of Louisiana.


We live about an hour north of Toronto, just south of Lake Simcoe. We were given a large pot of Mums yesterday with no tags or care instructions and my wife told me I should plant them outside today but I am wondering if I would be better to find somewhere inside to keep them for the winter and plant them in the spring. There really isn’t anywhere in the house that such a huge pot would fit in that is anywhere near a window but I keep the garage workshop above freezing and there is a spot in front of the window where I could put them…

What do you think?

Susan Higgins

Hi Bob, you can go ahead and plant them, keeping in mind you’ll have to do a little maintenance before winter comes. Take a look at this information, which we feel will be helpful:

Cindy becking

Someone bought me a mum last week, I put it in a larger pot, but I plan i plan on bringing it in soon, will it live in the house

Shirley Lowe

My mums are beautiful I cut them back until mid July and they are really big and loaded. I have tulip bulbs under them and they come up early spring.


Two years ago I planted mums from a local nursery. They have become like a ground cover. I have never seen anything like it. How can I tell the difference in this type of mum and a barrel mum when purchasing? I really don’t care for the ground cover type .


Have question! My mums that planted now,for them to come back, do I take up put in dark place or just cut back and cover with more mulch????


Do not cut back until the end of winter.


I planted a mum last fall the end of September here in northern Maine at my late husbands grave I never removed it it stayed in the ground all winter under the snow and low and behold it came back this year in the spring it’s beautiful


I live in West Virginia and get my mums to last over winter even if planted in the fall. I do not cut the mums back but I cover them with a good bedding of straw. I cut them back in the spring and then again cut the plant in half around the 4th of July.

sunrise springs new mexico

In new mexico I have found that it is best to leave the above ground plant material intact throughout the winter to protect the plant. Pruning back encourages new growth. The daytime temp can exceed 50 degrees in the winter, but drop well below freezing at night. This is very important for roses. I plant mums every September (150 this year) and cut them back in the spring. As a professional in this climate I would not take the time to winter mums in the dark, however, my casablanca lily bulbs are stored in the dark in a frost free area.


Hello….I plant my mums in the ground in the fall and the do winter over in Ontario, Canada. The trick is to cut them back in early June so they are bushier in the fall.

Karen Foster

I live in Southwest Missouri. How far back do you suggest cutting the mums in ground back to and how much mulch is best to cover them with for the winter?

Plan Your Day. Grow Your Life.

Enter your email address to receive our free Newsletter!