How to care for mums? As the quintessential autumn flower and November birth flower, mums stand out as one of the rare flowers that actually bloom when the weather turns cooler and daylight hours shorten. This vibrant flower, characterized by its dense petals, graces us with a range of colors, including classic yellow and orange, as well as white, red, pink, green, and purple. If you wish, your garden can be transformed into a kaleidoscope consisting entirely of chrysanthemums. Whether you’re aiming for a rainbow garden or just a few potted mums to decorate your veranda, it’s important to understand how to care for these flowers to ensure their lasting beauty throughout the fall season.
Given their resilience to cold weather, mums require slightly different care than your typical summer flowers like begonias and petunias. These flowers are also perennial, which means that after their flowering period ends, some maintenance is necessary at the end of the season to guarantee strong mums for the next autumn, whether they are planted in the ground or in containers. In the following sections, we outline who these colorful flowers like, who they dislike, and how to care for mums in their full glory for as long as possible.
How to care for mums
- Choose the Right Location: Mums thrive in well-drained soil and prefer a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight each day.
- Planting: Plant mums in the spring to allow their roots to establish before the blooming season. Space them about 18 to 24 inches apart to ensure proper air circulation.
- Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Water at the base of the plant to avoid wetting the leaves, as this can lead to disease. Water mums early in the day to allow any excess moisture to evaporate before evening.
- Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring when new growth appears and again after the first wave of blooms.
- Pinching and Deadheading: To encourage bushier growth, pinch off the top inch or two of new growth in the spring and early summer. Remove spent flowers regularly (deadheading) to promote continuous blooming.
- Winter Care: In cold climates, add a layer of mulch around the base of the plant in late fall to protect the roots from freezing temperatures. In early spring, remove the mulch to allow new growth.
- Dividing: Every few years, divide your mums in the spring or fall to prevent overcrowding and rejuvenate the plants.
- Pest and Disease Control: Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids, caterpillars, leafhoppers, leafminers, and spider mites.. Treat any infestations promptly. Prevent fungal diseases by avoiding overhead watering and providing good air circulation.
- Staking: Tall varieties of mums may require staking to keep them upright, especially when heavy blooms are present.
- Pruning in Late Spring: After the last frost in late spring, prune your mums to about 6 inches above the ground to stimulate new growth.
How often do water mums?
Horticulturist and CEO of TN Nursery Tammy Sons says that mums need a lot of water because they are in full sunlight. “Water once a day, in the evening hours,” she says. “This is vital because watering them in the mornings doesn’t give the soil adequate time to soak up the moisture before the sun pops out and dries it up, sometimes leaving the plants moisture starved.”
If they are planted in the ground, Noyes also recommends that the water go 6 to 8 inches into the soil. They need about an inch of water a week if they are in pots. Make sure the earth isn’t dry and water it if it is.
How to care for mums after they bloom
Prune away the withered blossoms to stimulate further flowering or to maintain the plant’s pristine appearance. Relocate the chrysanthemums to a more capacious vessel or an amply endowed garden bed, graced with well-draining, nutrient-rich, and mildly acidic soil. When these splendid blooms grace us with their presence, nourish them with either liquid or organic fertilizers. Subsequently, trim both stems and leaves by approximately half and swathe them in a cozy blanket of mulch or straw to shield them from the frigid clutches of winter’s frost.
If you live in a region with extremely cold climates, dig up your mums and replant them in containers, and store them in an unheated garage or a dark, cold closet with a grow light
Every two to three years, undertake the noble task of lifting and dividing the chrysanthemums to avert overcrowding and breathe new life into these resplendent plants.
How to care for mums in pots
Many of the chrysanthemums available in potted form at retail establishments tend to fall under the category of florist chrysanthemums. These specimens, regrettably, lack the robust resilience of their garden counterparts, rendering them vulnerable in the face of severe winters. An astute examination of the accompanying care tag will unveil the gardening zones associated with the plant, facilitating identification.
Garden chrysanthemums, flourishing within zones 5-9, bask in the glory of adaptability, while their florist counterparts can only endure the climatic challenges of zones 7-9. If you opt for a garden chrysanthemum, a prudent strategy involves transplanting it into a more expansive, well-drained receptacle, safeguarding it within the confines of your home during the winter, and subsequently introducing it to your garden in the spring.
It is imperative to bear in mind that chrysanthemums have an ardent affinity for sunlight. Indoor chrysanthemums, in particular, thrive under the embrace of bright, indirect light. Furthermore, their insatiable thirst necessitates thorough watering to maintain their vitality.
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Do mums come back every year?
Chrysanthemums can be classified into two primary categories: florist chrysanthemums and garden chrysanthemums. Florist chrysanthemums, those compact, potted luminaries often gracing nurseries, are typically not endowed with the ability to return year after year. In contrast, garden chrysanthemums exhibit a more relaxed growth pattern and steadfastly reemerge with each passing year.
Both variants are inherent to the same botanical species, Chrysanthemum morifolium. The perennial nature of a chrysanthemum is primarily contingent upon the presence of stolons, which are surface-level runners that produce fresh roots and shoots. Garden chrysanthemums boast these stolons and consequently endure as perennial residents, while florist chrysanthemums, marked by their scarcity or absence of stolons, seldom endure the rigors of winter.
Chrysanthemums adorn themselves in a myriad of flower forms, ranging from daisy-like singles to resplendent pompoms and more. It is advisable to explore these diverse offerings to discover your personal floral favorite.
A trick to mums to come back year after year
To nurture chrysanthemums and ensure their perennial return, one must select an exquisitely sun-kissed, breezy, and well-drained site, enriched with slightly acidic soil. Diligent, yet judicious daily watering is imperative, avoiding excess saturation, complemented by timely fertilization during their blossoming phase. To foster a more luxuriant and symmetrical appearance, consider gently pinching the plants in the spring and summer months, while also engaging in the art of deadheading to encourage a profusion of flowers.
For those residing in the snow-laden terrains of ski country, Mr. Waterman proposes seeking out a sheltered sanctuary within your garden, ideally nearer to the dwelling. Furthermore, once the splendid flowering display has concluded, and pruning is complete, it is advisable to provide the plant with comprehensive coverage of bark mulch or a leafy embrace. Precise recollection of the mums’ planting location is paramount.
Residents of Northtowns may be exempt from mulching, though in the event of a harsh, snow-deficient winter, plant losses could be imminent. To shield against frost, leave them standing throughout the winter season, bestowing upon them a protective mulch. Additionally, a periodic division of the chrysanthemums is recommended to prevent overcrowding, thereby facilitating an abundant blooming spectacle.
‘Clara Curtis’ is a hardy, old-fashioned chrysanthemum, a passalong plant with pink, daisy-like flowers with golden centres. The flowers are 2 inches to 3 inches in diameter.
‘Homecoming’ is like a big, beautiful mother figure who was once a staple of Fall Corsairs. It produces huge peach-colored flowers on 3-foot stalks.
‘Ruby Mound’ is a hardy garden mum with lush sprays of large, ruby-red semi-double flowers.
‘Fireglow Bronze’ produces clusters of golden double flowers on an 18-inch bush.