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How To Keep Your Mums Thriving All Season

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How To Keep Your Mums Thriving All Season

Chrysanthemums, or “mums,” are a favorite variety of fall flowers. They come in a beautiful range of colors synonymous with the season. Proper care of your potted mums ensures an abundant and vibrant floral display. Here are some helpful tips to keep yours gorgeous and long lasting:

How To Keep Your Mums Thriving All Season

Shopping for Mums

  • Look for plants with healthy foliage with no wilting leaves or blooms, and without signs of insect damage or disease.
  • The plant’s soil should be moist and not dry.
  • Purchasing locally-raised mums from a farm or nursery ensures that the varieties grown are well suited to your growing region. This is especially important if you will be transplanting the mum outdoors in your flower bed or displaying the potted plant outside. Garden or hardy mums endure cooler outdoor temperatures better than florist mums, which are raised as indoor plants only.
  • When choosing potted mums for an event that will occur within a few days, purchase plants brimming with colorful flowers.
  • For long-term enjoyment, select a plant that is loaded with unopened, tight flower buds, instead of one in full bloom. The buds will bloom over the course of several weeks, providing a continuous showing of beautiful flowers.
  • To keep your outdoor space filled with flowering mums all season, select an assortment of varieties that bloom at different times from late summer through mid-fall.
  • Looking for something different? Besides the traditional, decorative overlapping petals, mum varieties are also available with different shaped blooms. You can choose exotic florist varieties with a pompon or single, daisy-like flower for indoor use, or as a short-term autumnal outdoor decoration, as these cultivars aren’t able to withstand cold weather.

Caring for Potted Mums

  • 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.

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.

(Continued Below)

Planting Mums in the Flower Bed

When choosing where to plant, remember mums require six or more hours of direct sun daily.
1. Dig the hole 2 times the width of the pot.
2. Place in the hole even with ground level. Backfill with garden soil to ground level.
3. Water with a flower and vegetable water-soluble plant food as directed on the label.
4. Add a 3″ layer of mulch.
5. Water daily or as needed until established.

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. Heavily mulch planted mums in the fall before freezing temperatures occur.

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

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20 comments

1 Sue { 12.03.16 at 8:39 pm }

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.

2 Ali Jay { 11.26.16 at 1:51 pm }

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.

3 Marc Bedard { 10.20.16 at 2:14 pm }

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

4 Patricia Palmer { 10.19.16 at 2:05 pm }

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

5 Thomas Hood { 10.19.16 at 1:38 pm }

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.

6 steve { 10.19.16 at 8:13 am }

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

7 Ruthie Schmidt { 10.19.16 at 5:43 am }

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.

8 carol ann thompson { 09.30.16 at 9:38 pm }

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

9 Susan Higgins { 09.26.16 at 4:49 pm }

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: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/flowers/chrysanthemum/wintering-mums.htm

10 Bob { 09.25.16 at 2:39 pm }

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?

11 Cindy becking { 10.05.15 at 3:38 pm }

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

12 Shirley Lowe { 10.04.15 at 7:57 pm }

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.

13 Fran { 10.04.15 at 12:16 pm }

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 .

14 Karyn { 10.19.16 at 9:18 pm }

Do not cut back until the end of winter.

15 patsy { 10.04.15 at 9:46 am }

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????

16 Sue { 10.04.15 at 8:49 am }

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

17 Judy { 09.30.15 at 7:37 pm }

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.

18 sunrise springs new mexico { 09.30.15 at 10:50 am }

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.

19 Sarah { 09.30.15 at 9:34 am }

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.

20 Karen Foster { 09.30.15 at 9:27 am }

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?

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