Beginner's Guide to Mums

Mums, chrysanthemums

Fall's favorite flower is a no-brainer when you follow these tips.The perfect fall flower is mums, which are known more formally as chrysanthemums. Even before the temperature drops, containers of mums arrive at your local garden store just waiting for you to make the perfect mum arrangement for your front door. We love to use them in all of our fall decorating ideas. Mums bloom in the perfect palette for fall color at your door. These fall flowers come in orange, red, yellow, and even white. Make a colorful impact by your door with a beautiful fall container garden made with groups of mums in pots or go all out for fall with a mumkin! This is the name for mums arranged in a pumpkin.

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Fall's Favorite Flower

Mums, chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums say fall as much as turkey says Thanksgiving. Pedestrian to the point of being cool, this plant is going to make you look great right through football season. Jimmy Turner, senior director of gardens at the Dallas Arboretum in Texas, knows mums. He and his staff plant close to 20,000 each fall both in the ground and in pots. Here are his tips.

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Tip 1

Buying Mums
Ralph Anderson / Styling: Rose Nguyen

When night temps drop (mid-September), buy plants as they start to break bud. You'll maximize bloom time. To find the color and type of flower you're after, check plant tags and cross-reference with already opened blooms. Garden centers usually group like selections together.

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Tip 2

Floral Mums vs Garden Mums
Ralph Anderson / Styling: Rose Nguyen

For impact, sport no more colors than are on your team's jersey. You will stretch your dollars by choosing darker shades such as bronze and burgundy. They look better longer; spent flowers are less noticeable. The same is true for mums with double, as opposed to single, daisy-like blooms.

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Tip 3

Mums on Front Porch

What you see is what you get: Buy the bigger plant. Once buds start to open, you're pretty much guaranteed flowers―no matter where you display them. They'll be happiest in sun, but if you're planning to compost them once the show is over, it's fine to bend this rule.

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Tip 4

Watering Mums
Ralph Anderson / Styling: Rose Nguyen

Keep flowers coming by watering and pinching. Soil should be moist, but never wet. Check daily while weather is warm, every other day when it's cooler. Fertilizing is not necessary. Remove faded blooms to encourage even more buds to open and you'll have color through October.

If plants dry out, submerge in a bucket of water, or jab a sharp pencil into the soil several times and then water.

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