Chrysanthemums, commonly called by the nickname “mums,” are a popular fall flower that begins blooming in late summer or early autumn and can last until the frost hits.
Mums run a full spectrum of color, ranging from red, white and yellow to orange, purple and even multicolor flowers. They grow in a variety of shapes, as well, such as daisy-like mums with yellow centers, small round pompoms, spiky quill-like blooms and “spider blooms” with long, thin petals. They can even help filter the air.
If you bring home some mums to decorate your home or garden for fall, a few simple steps can help the pretty plants bloom all season long — and you can even enjoy them again in the spring.
The best way to enjoy mums throughout the fall is to purchase healthy ones at the right time. Buy plants that look full and bright. Avoid any that are wilting or show signs of damage. Pick plants with moist soil and lots of tight, unopened flower buds, as they will blossom for you over the next several weeks, giving you a continual display of bright, fresh flowers.
Experts also recommend waiting until fall weather arrives to buy them, as the plants do best when temperatures are 60 degrees or colder.
How To Care For Mums
Transplant the chrysanthemums to a new, larger container once you bring them home. They will likely be root-bound in the pot from the garden center. Remaining in that pot will halt their growth, so give them room to spread out and thrive.
Mums do best when they stay moist. Don’t oversaturate them, but avoid letting them become too thirsty.
Mums love the sunshine, so let them get a good four hours of light every day. As the season progresses, you might need to move the pot to another location to give the plant the sun it needs.
Prune the plant periodically, pinching off dead blooms to make way for new growth and to keep it looking lovely.
Overwintering Mums Indoors For Spring
Bring plants indoors, pots and all, once the first hard frost hits. Alternatively, you can keep them in an enclosed area, such as your garage or basement. In fact, they will fare better in a cool, dark area than in your well-lit, heated living room. (You might want to rethink keeping in them in your house if you have pets since mums are toxic to cats and dogs.)
Fight the urge to trim away old stems and leave the foliage in place. Top the soil with shredded wood mulch or straw about four-inches thick and cover the entire pot with a piece of burlap or an old sheet.
After the last hard freeze of the spring, plant the mum in the warm soil or move the pot back outside. Trim the stems and foliage. The plant should begin showing growth within weeks. You can pinch back the plant to just a few inches tall in July and August to enjoy hardy flowers again in the fall.