When is the best time to plant garden mums?
Spring! When mums are planted in the spring after the last frost, they have plenty of time to develop a substantial root system that will lead to good blooms and healthy plants in future years.
Where can I get garden mums?
In recent years, garden centers and the large home stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.) have begun to offer mum plants in the spring. Local chapters of the National Chrysanthemum Society often have spring plant sales. See our Chapters Page for a list of NCS Chapters.
Do mums have special soil requirements?
Not really. Mums can be very happy in well prepared, slightly acid garden soil. To grow chrysanthemums successfully you should have a pH reading near 6.5. As with most plants, mums appreciate well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, such as compost. Adding some standard garden fertilizer (such as 5-10-5) to the soil for growth and some super phosphate for root development always helps.
How much sun do mums need?
As much as you can give them. Mums will thrive in full sun conditions, given adequate moisture. About three hours of direct sunlight is about the minimum that will produce bushy plants and plenty of flowers.
How much water do mums need?
Early in the season mums should be watered like your lawn, about one inch a week. As the plants increase in size and summer brings warmer temperatures, your watering should increase proportionately. By flowering time in September and October, watering three times a week would not be too much.
How do I keep my mums short and bushy?
In the last several years, hybridizers have been introducing varieties that remain low to the ground and form bushy balls of flowers with little effort on your part. However, a little pruning will produce even better results. Early in the season, when the plants are about 6” tall, pinch off or prune about 1” from the top of each stem. This will cause the plant to vigorously produce side branches. When those new stems are about 6” tall (the whole plant is now almost a foot tall), pinch off or prune about 1” from the top of each stem. Again, this will force new growth from each stem. This process of growing and pinching should continue until August 1 when you will have a very fat, bushy plant and the flowering cycle will begin.
Should I feed my mums?
Yes. If you added granular fertilizer to the soil when you planted your mums in the spring, you might make one or two applications of water soluble fertilizer (such as Miracle Gro) over the summer. If your mums are older than one year, apply water soluble fertilizer once a month throughout the growing season.
Will my mums that I planted in the spring come back next year?
They should. As perennials, mums are genetically programmed to lose their top growth to the frost, go to sleep for the winter, and wake up with the warm temperatures of the spring. However, you can help the process. When the foliage succumbs to frost, cut the plant back to the ground. Apply a thick layer of mulch (chopped leaves, pine needles, etc.) over the plants. When spring arrives and the threat of frost is over, pull back the mulch and watch your mums rapidly grow.
Will the mums I buy in the fall come back next spring?
Maybe. Flowering mums planted in the fall don’t consistently make it through the winter. The plants don’t have the time (or the inclination, since they are working hard on flowering) to extend their roots beyond the pot-bound root ball into the soil. The fragile roots are damaged by frequent cycles of freezing and thawing over the winter. Without a good root system, the plant dies. Some growers have had success by wintering mums in a cool, dry location (garage, porch, etc.) that doesn’t freeze. After cutting off the foliage, keep these plants barely moist throughout the winter (watering lightly once a month). Expose them to warmer temperatures and more water once the threat of frost is past. Plant in the ground after the last frost.
How do I make more mums?
There are two ways to multiply your mums. 1) If your plants have been in the ground for a number of years and have formed a large clump, just get out the shovel in the spring when the mums are just beginning to grow and divide the plant into pieces about a foot wide. Plant each piece in a new hole with some organic matter and fertilizer. 2) Regardless of the age on your mums, they can be propagated through cuttings. When a new stem is about 6” tall, break off or cut the top 4”. Dip the cut end into some rooting hormone (this isn’t absolutely necessary) and plant the cutting into a pot with sterile potting soil or a mix of sand and peat moss. Keep the pot moist (not wet) and warm. There should be bright light, but no direct sun. In about two weeks the cuttings will have formed roots. Before planting the cuttings in the outdoor bed, gradually acclimate them to brighter light.
Can I revitalize my old mums?
You bet! Mums seem to do best when they are growing on roots that are new or not more than a few years old. To put a spark in you mum bed, make new plants through cuttings (see: How do I make more mums?) and plant them in a newly prepared spot with organic matter and fertilizer.
Are “football” mums really mums?
Yes they are. The large incurving or reflexing blooms that you see in florist shops or at National Chrysanthemum Society shows are just hybridized varieties of hardy garden mums that have been bred for size, shape, or color.
Where can I get “football” mums?
“Football” mums (exhibition mums) can be purchased from local chrysanthemum societies or by mail from several suppliers. Kings Mums has an extensive offering of exhibition and garden mums in many colors and shapes.