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
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
- 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.
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.