During the Fall season, we all go crazy for potted mums, don’t we?! Chrysanthemums are some of the prettiest Fall perennials around, so it’s no wonder people love to use them as decorative accents once the weather starts to cool.
Stick a few mums of various colors in a simple pot and you’ve got yourself some lovely eye candy for your front porch.
Plant them next to other Fall-blooming flowers like Marigolds and Purple Coneflowers, and you’ve just created a low-maintenance flower bed that will bloom until frost and will shoot back up again next year. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me.
Chrysanthemums are particularly beloved for their voracious blooms that form a mounding shape inside pots or in the ground.
The blooms can last for weeks which makes them a good investment, especially if you’re using them as part of your Fall decor.
The best part is they’re relatively inexpensive (about a few dollars a pot) so if something goes awry, you’re not out a lot of money.
I know that many people struggle with keeping mums alive and looking their best through the season, so I’m sharing a few tips that have helped me keep these beauties thriving.
Let’s get to it!
Are Mums Perennials or annuals?
You might be thinking that chrysanthemums are annuals because people throw them out once they stop blooming, but they can actually be overwintered and grown as perennials.
This is a good thing to know if you’re keen on saving money on plants or just plain hate to throw away plants once they’ve completed their seasonal or decorative purpose.
To treat them as perennials, you’d overwinter your hardy mums before the first frost (I’ll go into detail below). To treat them as annuals, you’d simply toss them out once the blooms die down.
chrysanthemums bloom in late summer through fall
You can start shopping for potted mums in late August, though I caution against it. It’s simply too hot for your potted mums to thrive outside.
Yes, mums love the sun, but they don’t love scorching temperatures. Being kept in 90-degree weather is nowhere near ideal for keeping their blooms looking fresh.
Instead, wait until the weather in your hardiness zone has cooled. These days, that means late September and October.
The mums you get at your local garden center will bloom for a few weeks, so you’ll still get plenty of time to enjoy them before Winter sets in.
You’re better off buying your mums in late September or early October when the weather is cooler. This gives them a better chance of survival. Remember that many regions still experience hot temperatures throughout the month if September.
How to shop for Chrysanthemums at the Garden Center
You’ll usually find various options of potted mums at your local garden center: ones that are in full bloom, ones that have partial blooms, and those that are full of buds waiting to bloom.
I recommend staying away from potted mums that are in full bloom. Reason being that you won’t get to enjoy the blooms for as long as you would if you opt for mums that have more buds on them.
Try to purchase potted mums with closed buds and those that are only partially blooming. You’ll get the best value for your investment.
How to Plant Potted Chrysanthemums
You can repot your mums when you bring them home. You’ll likely want to discard the plastic pot it came in and replace it with something that goes better with your Fall decor.
Try not to plant them in a pot that is significantly larger than its current pot, however. You’ll also want to make sure that you place your mums in an area that gets good exposure to sunlight.
This is especially important for mums that have closed buds on them because chrysanthemums need plenty of sun in order to bloom. As long as the sun isn’t too strong and you’re providing your mums with enough water, they should be good in a sunny spot.
Chrysanthemums can grow in most soils as long as it drains well – they don’t like wet feet. I’s bes to plant them in a pot that has a drainage hole where excess water can drain from.
To repot, place the root system in its new pot and add regular potting soil into the pot so that all of the foliage sits atop the rim of the pot. Give it a drink of water.
How to Water Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums may be classified as a drought-tolerant perennial, but I have found that they LOVE being water every day.
Nurseries keep mums pretty moist, so it only makes sense to keep them moist when you bring them home. They’ve been accustomed to getting water every day so underwatering them would shock the plant and cause the blooms to dry out.
I water my mums every morning with a watering can. I simply make sure the soil is moist. I do the tough test: I stick my finger into the soil about an inch or two deep. If it feels dry, I know it needs water, but if it still feels pretty moist, I’ll skip the watering for a day.
Watering every day might sound tedious but it has a huge payoff: good-looking mums with pretty blooms and healthy foliage.
My other recommendation is to water the soil, NOT the leaves. Try as best you can to water directly onto the soil instead of splashing the blooms and foliage with water.
Mums, like other plants, are susceptible to diseases like powdery mildew and fungus if exposed to too much moisture.
It’s crucial to Water mums the correct way: always water the soil, never the foliage. Mums are susceptible to diseases like powdery mildew, so aim to keep the leaves dry by pointing your watering can or hose directly over the soil.
How to Deadhead Mums
Deadheading is key to getting more blooms out of your potted mums! It’s a very fast and easy process, too.
All you need to do in order to deadhead successfully is take your scissors or pruners and snip the dead blooms off directly where the bloom meets the stem.
Do this as soon as you see your blooms starting to wither and brown. Deadheading will help direct the plant’s energy away from keeping the dying bloom alive to creating new buds.
How to Winterize Mums
Hardy mums can be winterized with a little care. The goal here is to provide ample protection against freezing temperatures once Winter sets in.
To do this, let your plant die back naturally until the foliage as a few inches above the soil. Cut it down to about three inches above the ground and then cover it with mulch.
Let it be for the next few months. If successful, the plant will start growing again in the Spring and will begin to produce again in Summer and then in the Fall.
Good luck and I hope this helps you keep your chrysanthemums looking their best this Fall!