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How to Care for Chrysanthemums:

6 Things You Need to Know About Mums

It's autumn and that means it's time to show off a garden full of mums! Here's how to care for chrysanthemums this fall.

The star of every autumn display has got to be those lush, gorgeous mums in harvest shades of yellow, burgundy and orange, or pretty pinks, purples and whites. Here’s how to care for chrysanthemums, plus how to choose the best plants for your fall garden.

Explore Annuals and Perennials

Chrysanthemums are either florist mums, which are best used as annuals, or garden mums, which can be grown as perennials.

If you picked up your mums from the fall display at the corner store or supermarket, it’s probably a florist mum. They’re bred to be beautiful but won’t survive the winter.

Southern Roots carries perennial mums.

Choose the Best Location

In zones 5-9, plant perennial garden mums in a full-sun spot. Well-draining soil is crucial to keep the plants healthy and ensure they’ll return next year. Work organic matter into poor or compacted soils before planting your mums.

Chrysanthemums grow up to three feet tall and up to two feet wide. Space your mums so they won’t be crowded. Their shallow roots cannot compete with other plants for moisture.

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball, adding rich soil to the hole as you plant your mum. Add a layer of mulch at the base of the plant to help keep the soil moist.

Water Perennial Mums Often

When planting, keep your perennial mums well-watered; they need a lot of H2O and are susceptible to drying out. You can prune the tips of branches to encourage growth in the spring and early summer; two or three times is usually enough, stopping by mid-summer so the plants will bloom in the fall.

Use Cut Mums in Arrangements

In the morning when plants are hydrated, cut the stems at an angle. Remove leaves that will be underwater and immediately place stems in tepid water. Bring the stems in water (with plant food added if you’d like) to a cool, dark place to rest overnight; this conditioning will extend the life of the cut flowers. Then, arrange your mums in a decorative vase.


Planting Potted Fall Mums Outdoors as Year-Round Perennials

Can I plant potted chrysanthemums outside? Yes, but. Here’s some things to know first so your expectations are realistic. Those chrysanthemums (mums) we see at grocery stores in fall—and some in spring—are not all created equal: there are dozens of mum species and thousands of varieties! Even when they are sold as ‘hardy’, it may not mean winter hardy. Often it just means they can tolerate some light frosts before dying. In general, mums can be hardy in zones 4 to 9, but the colder your hardiness zone, the less likely they are to survive winter conditions. Find Your Frost Dates & Hardiness Zone Tips for Growing Mums as Perennials These tips are for planting decorative but hardy potted chrysanthemums in the fall garden for year-round growing. Some decorative fall potted chrysanthemums are hardy enough to grow in your garden year-round. 1 Choose Healthy Plants Choose healthy potted chrysanthemums with no sign of wilt or browning. Ideally, they are budding but not yet blooming. They must be winter hardy. 2 Do Not Let Mums Dry Out Mums will not tolerate dry soil (they’ll die) so stay on top of the watering from the moment you get them. If it’s hard to check the soil, a moisture meter will do the job nicely. 3 Plant 6-8 Weeks Before Fall Frosts It’s ideal to plant your mums at least 6-8 weeks before fall frosts to allow time for roots to establish. 4 Remove Flowers Before Planting When ready to plant, first, snip off the buds or flowers so the plant puts its energy into root production. Yes, I’m saying to cut off the blooms. It’s for the best.  5 Choose Full Sun Location Choose a full sun location (6 hours of sun per day) with well-draining soil. As much as they can’t tolerate dry soil, neither will they tolerate soggy soil.If planting several, allow 18-inches between plants. 6 Hold Off Fertilizing Hold off fertilizing until spring. 7 Water Until Frosts Water deeply, and continue watering right up until frosts begin. 8 Add Mulch at Frost Time

Set aside several inches of mulch (compost, ground-up leaves, bark, or straw) to place around the plant after the ground freezes. Snow is also an excellent insulator.

9 Water in Spring

Resume watering in spring.

Check if ‘pinching back’ is recommended for your variety to encourage blooms in fall.


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