How to Plant and Care Glorious Garden Mums
Autumn is synonymous with garden mums for many of us because that it the time of this glorious and versatile plant. Chrysanthemum comes in a variety of shape and colors and offers variety, longevity, and hardiness in a very attractive package.
Garden mums have a density in foliage and blooms that makes them a power-packed addition to any landscape. The fact that you can choose colors varying from yellow and orange to pink and lavender means that there is not a garden that will not find a complimenting color of mum. Whether you want to highlight the evergreens with vibrant reds and whites or play up the season with stunning bronzes and oranges, mums will help you paint a pretty picture.
The way the plant is structured also makes it a great addition to a landscape and because each plant produces plenty of flowers you can get a lot of impact by such adding a couple of plants of any given color. The versatility of garden mums is apparent in the fact that this great landscape plant is also a perfect container plant. You can leave them by themselves in a container such as a clay pot or a window box or pair them with interesting plants for added drama. They go well as backdrops for trailing plants and stand out interestingly against small berry shrubs and conifers. Ornamental grasses mixed in with garden mums are also an elegant combination.
These plants are technically not perennials but by planting garden mums in spring and providing some supportive care every winter can have a recurring mum in your landscape every fall. If you want to leave the chrysanthemum in your yard over the winter, plant it in spring to give it enough time to establish its roots in the garden. Then thoroughly deadhead the flowers over winter allowing it to overwinter. In spring, you can fertilize and mulch the base of the plant and by pinching prudently you can encourage fresh growth and hope for re-blooming in the fall.
There are cases where some mums even end up flowering minimally in spring. If you do end up picking up a mum in fall treat it as a container plant in the fall and keep in indoors in the winter months to avoid the outside cold temperatures. You can help the plant re-establish itself in spring by again tilling the soil and adding enhancements to it. If it seems healthy, you can plant it in the group in the spring. There is a distinction made between florist mums and hardy or garden mums and while the latter can survive the colder conditions of winter the former most definitely cannot. So pick the right kind of mum depending on how you want to use it. Garden mums produce something called underground stolons which helps them survive the cold and they are classified as perennials in Zones 5 to 9 for this reason.
There are many cultivars of garden mums and by choosing the right one for your region you can get the most out of your plant. Each cultivar has a different bloom time and finding one that matches the fall period of your area will be a good way of making sure that you get plenty of bloom time before the first signs of frost. The different cultivars of garden mums have different levels of sensitivity to early spring frost and this should also be factored in while picking a plant for your garden.
Garden mums make for great borders and clusters and they are fairly low maintenance. There are some deer resistant cultivars and by adding these to your garden you can enjoy a long blooming season well past the warm summer days.
How to Care for Mums
Chrysanthemums, fondly known as mums, are well-loved and easy to care for, producing pretty blooms in the fall when other flowers have abandoned you. Mums come in a selection of colors, including shades of purple, pink, red, yellow, and even bronze. They are recognized by their densely petaled blooms and small leaves. Mums do well in containers and gardens and are hearty enough to whether a light frost. Just a little attention to detail will keep your mums healthy and blooming for many seasons to come.
Sun and Soil
Mums like full and partial sun, at least six hours a day. Rather than place mums in the shade, plant them in a container or window box for better exposure. Well-drained soil is ideal. Do not plant mums where the ground tends to be soggy. Plant your mums one inch deeper than they were in their original pots.
Watering, Trimming, and Fertilizing
Mums have shallow roots, so they do best when the soil at the surface is watered regularly rather than from a long, deep dousing. Pinching back new growth is what keeps mums thick and healthy. Don’t be afraid – pinching back even three to five inches of growth throughout the spring and into early July will bring you fuller plants and prolific blooms in the fall.
Mums do well on their own, but a high-phosphorous fertilizer applied once or twice a month until cooler fall weather sets in will give your mums an extra boost.
Pests and Winter
One of the best things about mums is their resistance to disease and insect pests. While you may notice aphids and other tiny insects in the leaves, most will not cause your mums any harm.
Your mums will be back next year if you help them through the winter by applying about four inches of mulch and straw to trimmed plants.
Keeping mums in your garden or landscape will promise color and blooms long after your summer plants have had their time in the sun. Easy to care for, mums will make you look like an expert gardener just by following these few simple rules.
Caring for Potted Mums
Potted mums are a colorful addition to a home or garden in late summer and fall. They are frequently placed on patios or near front doors to welcome visitors. If cared for properly, they can even last into the winter. Read below for tips on how to adequate care for your mums and have them looking their best for as long as possible.
When choosing your mums, select a plant with buds that have just begun to break, as this will increase their bloom time. For best results, you should purchase them around mid-September. When you first get your mums, soak them until water leaks out of the bottom of the pot. Then, water daily until their soil is moist. If the soil dries out, it will harm the mums. Your potted mums also need direct sunlight, whether they are played indoors or outside. Night lighting, on the other hand, will interrupt their flowering cycle. Be sure to place your mums in an area that will receive a minimum of six hours of sun per day. Adequate sunlight results in larger, healthier flowers.
When flowers begin to wilt, you may pluck them at the base. Leave on all buds and leaves. Once all of the blooms die, you may place your mums outside. Cover the pots with dried leaves to protect them from the cold, but otherwise, allow them to go dormant. Before your mums begin to bloom again in spring, you will need to prune them. Cut the stems back to about 12 inches, or even shorter if you would prefer a thicker plant.
You can begin watering your potted mums again in spring once new growth has begun and color has returned. Again, keep them watered properly throughout the growing season, and fertilize once a week for the first few months. Once new blooms are present, you can cut back on fertilizing.
Advanced Care for Mums
Plant mums in nutrient-rich sandy soil with organic matter. Ensure the hole it is planted in is very deep and has adequate drainage, which is very important for the mum’s health during winter months. Each year assess the soil for pests and disease and treat accordingly.
Apply enough water to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to root rot. For most climates, water every day or every other day unless there is frequent rainfall. After planting a new mum, water it two to three times a week.
Apply a general fertilizer with ratio 6-12-6 each month at one half to one pound for every 100 square feet. Or use liquid fertilizer once a month. There’s no need to feed mums during the fall.
To encourage bushy development of your mums, pinch off the new growth in the spring. When the branches reach 6 inches, pinch them down by 2 to 3 inches. Let the branches grow again 5 to 6 inches and pinch again. Stop pinching branches by the end of summer because they will start to develop new buds. Stop pinching after the second week of July in northern climates and the last week of July for southern climates.
Dig up and divide mums every 3 to 5 years. Air circulation and nutrients are important for healthy flowering, so thinning out your mums will encourage healthy production through the years. Separate the mums with a sharp knife, and replant in rich soil.
Keep the soil moist during cold months. After the plant dies back, cut it down slightly and apply a straw mulch. Avoid cutting down to soil or you’ll have fewer stems next season. Use mulch to keep the soil dry and warm, which prevents roots from being damaged by freezing and thawing. In April, remove old foliage and mulch when you notice new growth.
If you have potted mums, move them to a cool light location during winter months. Water them to keep the soil moist, but avoid overwatering. At the beginning of spring, put potted mums in the partial sun during the day and bring inside to a cool room at night. Mums that grow new foliage during the winter should be planted outdoors after the last frost in the spring. Mums without new growth can be planted in the soil when temperatures are still freezing at night. Apply bloom fertilizer when the chance of frost is gone.