Release the mums!


Chrysanthemums are some of our favorite flowers. They're the MVPs of the autumn garden. They're center stage in any fall decoration or front porch display. They have cheery blooms in autumnal hues, and many can stand up to Southern winters and grazing deer. When fall arrives, we wouldn't dare forget to put out our mums, whether perennials or annuals. That said, there are always a few flower-related points to brush up on when mum season arrives again—including the best weekend to put out mums to ensure their pretty blooms last all season long. Without further ado…

When should I put out pots of mums?

Depending on the weather, Labor Day weekend can be a good time to put out your pots of mums and start planning your fall gardening and decorating. If it's still sweltering, though, you may want to wait a few weeks and put out your mums in mid- to late-September. When the weather turns cool and you can feel a hint of fall in the air, you know it's time to set out the pots. If you're shopping for plants at your local garden center, be sure to select mums with many closed bloom buds to ensure the plants will have longevity.

According to The Grumpy Gardener, "If you want to plant out your potted mums, do so this fall. Don't leave them in pots for the winter. Pick out a sunny spot with fertile, well-drained soil that contains a lot of organic matter. Mums steadily spread, but tend to die out in the centers. So every couple of years, lift the clump in spring, discard the old, woody center, divide the remainder into 3-4 plants, and replant."

When are mums in season?

Many mums bloom throughout the fall months, but some species will provide blooms from late spring through the fall. In some cases, mum season varies according to the vagaries of the weather. According to The Southern Living Garden Book, "Sometimes mums are fooled by cool weather and short days into booming in spring." If this happens, you should cut them back to ensure they'll bloom again in the fall. There are perennial varieties, and if those are planted early enough, they can usually be counted on to last through the cold months and bloom for years to come.

When should I plant mums?

Plant young mums in early spring, if possible. In this case, it's the earlier the better, because mums need time to establish root systems in the soil. If buying mums to plant, check the tags, and be sure to select hardy mums or garden mums. The Grumpy Gardener recommends "old-fashioned mums" like 'Country Girl,' 'Venus,' and 'Single Apricot Korean.' These types of mums will be able to withstand the South's winter weather and should be able to thrive in the garden season after season. According to The Southern Living Garden Book, you should "set out young plants in early spring. Water deeply at intervals determined by your soil structure—frequently in porous soils, less often in heavy soils."

For more information, check out our Beginner's Guide to Mums.

What's your mum routine? Let us know if you'll be putting out pots and containers or planting mums in your garden this year.