Planting Mums is a great way to add seasonal color in the Fall. Follow these tips to keep your Mums healthy and full of flower blooms.
Are Mums Perennials?
A lot of Mums are actually perennials however most people treat mums like annuals, getting rid of them at the end of fall. But if you’re looking to keep this awesome fall bloomer a permanent resident in your garden, make sure you buy the correct Mums. Look for mums that are labeled as “Hardy Mums”, or “Garden Mums”. These are the type that are most likely to come back year after year.
Tips for Planting Mums
Whether you’re looking to establish Mums permanently in your garden, or just looking for some temporary seasonal color, use these tips to get the most out of your Mums:
1. Choose Between Seasonal Color or a Permanent Plant
If you’re looking for Mums that will come back every year make sure you buy Hardy Mums, or Garden Mums, and plant these Mums in your landscape as early as possible. Spring or early summer is actually the best time to plant Mums so they get established before winter. But chances are you won’t see them until later in the summer so grab them as early as you can when garden centers start stocking up in late summer. Every week makes a big difference in getting the plant established so it can survive the winter, especially if you’re in a colder climate. So don’t wait too long to get Mums in the ground.
If you’re just looking to buy Mums for seasonal color and you plan on discarding them at the end of the season then you don’t have to worry about shopping early. You can purchase as late as you want.
2. Buy Plants That Haven’t Bloomed Yet
Instead of buying Mums that are already in full bloom, choose plants with flower buds that are just about ready to burst open. This way you won’t have a plant that’s starting to fade once you bring it home.
3. Plant In Ground or In Pot
If you’re treating your Mums as annuals for a quick temporary pop of color in the fall then you have a lot of choices. You can choose to pot them up and place them along the outside of your home or even inside your house. You can even choose to leave them in the pot you bought them in. This flexibility is one of the main benefits of treating Mums like annuals.
If planting Mums in the ground (and you’ll have to if you want them to survive the winter), use rich soil such as compost or a quality loam and compost mix. Add mulch around plants, especially if you want to see your Mums overwinter successfully.
4. Consider Sunlight
Mums grow best in at least 6 hours of sun. However, if plants are already in bloom, or about to bloom, sunlight is less important if you’re planning on disposing the Mums at the end of the season.
Don’t let the soil dry out. The soil should feel moist, but not completely saturated. Simply test by sticking your finger in the soil around the plant to check for moisture. Plants that are in pots will need to be watered at least once a day depending on sunlight. Plants in the ground will need less water, especially if its a plant that’s already established.
This isn’t mandatory, but if you want to get the most out of your Mums then deadhead spent flowers by simply pinching them off with your fingers or using small pruning snips. This will help the plant focus on producing more blooms rather then spending energy on fading flowers.
7. Don’t Cut Back Until Spring
I’ve found that waiting until spring to cut back Mums gives them a much better chance of surviving the winter as opposed to cutting them back in the Fall. This is most likely due to the protection the dead foliage and branches provides during the winter months. In the spring, cut back all the dead parts being careful not to interfere with any new growth.
For more mature plants, spring is also a good time to prune out any new growth that is extending beyond the regular shape of the plant. Older Mums can get a little wild and take over space in your garden so cut out any sections needed to keep the plant size and shape under control. As a bonus, you can transplant these clippings into other areas of your landscape to grow more Mums.
8. Prune In Late Spring/Early Summer for Thicker Plant with More Blooms
Pruning Mums in Late Spring/Early Summer will prevent the plant from getting too leggy and instead it will make the plant more full with better branching. It will also encourage more blooms. With this late spring/early summer pruning you want to cut several inches of fresh growth off your mums.
Just note that you don’t want to prune too late in the season otherwise you’ll end up pruning off the flower buds that will be producing flowers in the fall. Early July is usually a pretty reliable cut off date when it comes to pruning mums. Check out this video on this pruning technique to get more prolific, bushier mums.
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