When to Put Out Your Mums in Fall to Ensure They Last
Chrysanthemums are the MVPs of the autumn garden. They take 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 points to remember 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, we answer the most common questions about mums.
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.
Can I Keep My Potted Mums Over Winter?
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 three to four plants, and replant."
When Do Mums Bloom?
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 blooming in spring." If this happens, you should cut them back to ensure they'll bloom again in the fall.
Should I Pinch My Mums?
Actually, pinching back mums is a trick that savvy gardeners use each year to encourage a bushier, more floriferous plant in the fall. Pinch or prune the tip of every stem in spring or early summer, making certain to remove any buds that have started to form. You can pinch off buds repeatedly as long as you stop the practice in July. Pinching will delay bloom time and force your mum to produce a new flush of growth that is laden with flower buds.
On the other hand, if you have old-fashioned, heirloom mums, you might want to skip any pinching. Tall mums flopping against a picket fence can be a very charming look.
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 you are buying mums to plant, check the tags, and be sure to select hardy mums or garden mums, which are perennial in USDA Zones 5 to 9. The Grumpy Gardener recommends a number of old-fashioned mums like 'Country Girl,' 'Venus,' and 'Single Apricot Korean.' These pink-hued varieties can grow up to 2 feet tall, will be able to withstand the South's winter weather, and should thrive in the garden season after season when planted in full sun. 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."