How to care for Mums (Chrysanthemums)

How to grow the most gorgeous Mums this Fall.

In late summer when other plants call it quits, mums hit their stride. They’re photoperiodic, since they rely on specific amounts of light to send the signal that it’s time to start purring on a show. 

Mums will not start to set buds until the nights last about ten hours long. Blooms follow in six to ten weeks. Cool temperatures don’t bother mums. In fact, chilly weather intensifies colors and keeps blooms looking fresh until a hard, killing frost makes it to our area. 

Though technically perennials, mums are often grown as annuals owing to shallow root systems. Mums left in plastic pots usually won’t survive the Winter. When the mums go dormant, simply cut your mums above the ground. Mums that are planted in the ground have the best chances to come back the next year. 

Soil: While mums thrive in just about any soil type, they do benefit from generous helpings of homemade compost.  Dig in a spadeful at planting time and top-dress with more. Soil must be well drained, so the plants roots will not rot.

Sunshine: Mums panted in full sun bloom more profusely than those in partial shade. An optimal site receives six to eight hours of direct light. 

Water: Shallow-rooted mums dry out quickly. Be sure to water consistently, especially during dry spells and in Fall, when plants are storing up energy for Winter survival. If your mums start to have a wilted look, water them ASAP! We always suggest that the soil should always be moist. 

Pinching Back: If you don’t like the leggy look (who does?), cut the tips of the stems early in the season to encourage branching.  Simply cut the stems three inches above the ground level. Repeat the process every two weeks until the 4th of July. This will help your mums grow in a nice round mound. *NOTE* Mums purchased this Fall at Woodard Mercantile will not need to be “pinched”  this Fall, pinching is only done early in the plants growing season to achieve the overall rounded shape.  

Fertilizer: We suggest using only slow release or time release fertilizers. These fertilizers will not over fertilize your mums. Try to avoid Miracle-Grow potting soils with fertilizer.  There have been some complaints about these types of soils in the past couple of years when it comes to growing mums. 

We hope these tips will help you to have the best looking mums on the block this Fall.  As always, the staff at all Woodard Mercantile locations are here to help you with all of your lawn and garden questions! 


Special thank you to Michael Kasselman for putting together these helpful tips.

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