How to Care for Mums For Plenty of Fall Color
Keep your yard dazzling with vivid reds, golds, and yellows.
The daytime temperatures may still be soaring upwards but, believe it or not, containers of colorful chrysanthemums, or mums as we like to call them, will soon be appearing at your local nurseries. No other fall flower creates as much excitement as the mum, for its arrival signals the coming of shorter days, cooler weather, outdoor decorating, cozy sweaters, pumpkins, apples, and so many more wonderful things. Follow these easy steps to get the biggest impact from your mums this fall.
What Colors of Mums Are Available?
Mums bloom in all the colors of fall, such as orange, red, and yellow, but also show off in white, pink, and lavender. Group colorful mums in pots on your front porch, put them in your garden, or have some fun and create mumkins.
Look for Closed Buds When Buying
To maximize bloom time, buy plants just as they start to break bud. The fewer buds that are showing color, the better, but you want enough to check the color you're buying. The flowers will last longer that way. Once the buds begin to open you are practically guaranteed flowers.
Give Them Room and Lots of Sun
Mums you purchase from large garden centers are likely to be root bound and starving for soil, water, and nutrients. You need to repot them and give them room to breathe. Pick a container or garden spot that offers plenty of space for the root ball to spread out and grow. Whether you are going to put your mums in pots to decorate your porch or use them as a bedding plant, you want to choose a spot that gets a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight per day – even more for bigger plants. Water well and continue to water every other day or so as long as the plant continues blooming.
How to Keep Flowers Coming
Keep soil moist, but not wet. Fertilizing is not necessary.Remove spent and faded blooms to encourage even more buds to open and you will have beautiful color throughout the season.
How to Care for Them Through the Winter
After a few hard frosts the foliage on your mums will begin to brown. It is time to replant potted mums into your garden and, if you had put mums into beds for temporary fall color, you may want to transplant them to another location. Choose a location with well-draining soil. Many times, it isn't the cold that kills mums, but the ice that forms around the roots if the mums are sitting in water. Soil that drains properly is key to successfully overwintering mums. You may also want to choose a location that is somewhat sheltered from strong, cold winter winds, which can also be harsh on mums.
Once in the ground, cut the stems of the mums to 3 to 4 inches above the ground. Leaving a little bit of the stems will ensure that next year you have a full plant, as the new stems will grow from these trimmed stems. Once the ground has frozen, add a layer of mulch, either straw or leaves, over the plant to help keep it insulated. This keeps the ground from going through a cycle of warming-freezing-warming which only serves to confuse the plant as the whether it should stay dormant or begin putting out new growth. Watch for new foliage in the spring, fertilize with an organic fertilizer, and pinch every 2-4 weeks to ensure you have sturdy plants come fall.