Caring for Autumn Mums
Whether you decide to plant them now, or planted them in the spring, chrysanthemums are a great flower to keep in your garden through out the fall for it’s beautiful and varying color schemes, or for it’s many uses in foods and teas. Mums are a good choice for anyone looking to keep an aesthetically appealing garden in the fall, since there are so many different species, you are likely to find at least a few, or possibly many of them visually pleasing to you.
Chrysanthemums are generally hardy plants, and can thrive fairly well on their own, however they will bloom best and thrive their best when planted in the correct growing conditions. Some types of mums, mainly flower show-quality ones, will be more difficult to grow and require much more attention than any other mums, but will produce more vibrant flowers. Other than those types of mums, they are a very easy flower to grow and still come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.
Mums require at least 4-6 hours of sun each day. Either plant them in a spot that receives that amount of sun, or plant them in pots you can easily move around. Mums are also susceptible to mildew, so you should keep the soil fairly dry by utilizing proper air circulation and water drainage. Don’t plant in low-lying, boxed-in wet areas with little to no air circulation. They could be placed in something like a hanging basket or somewhere out in the open. Try to avoid planting mums near any light sources, as it can interfere with their blooming schedule. When planting, make sure to choose fertile sandy or loamy soil with a pH of or around 6.5. Mums will do fine without any fertilization, but it won’t hurt to add some!
Planting, Pruning, and Propagation
Mums do their best when planted in the early spring months, after the last frost has passed. However, you can just as easily plant them in the fall months before the frost hits, however, because planted late, the roots will not be deep enough for the plant to survive over winter. So, if planting in the fall months, you will generally have to replant the next spring. However, it’s definitely worth planting a few to add some color to your garden in the fall, when most colorful flowers and plants are beginning to wither.
To plant mums purchased from garden centers, simply dig out a hole that is twice as big as the root ball of the plant, add in any compost or peat, and plant them at whatever depth they were in the container at. Depending on how big your mums are, you may need to add a support structure such as stakes, to help them grow properly. If planting multiple mums, space them at least 20 to 24 inches apart.
To prune your mums, do so whenever plants reach six inches tall by pinching off the tips to help add bushiness and bring more blooms. Pinch them again when they reach 1 foot tall. If you planted in the spring, you can pinch them back every few weeks until early August to encourage heavy fall blooms. Do the last pinching about 90 days before the desired bloom time. After blooming, some gardeners choose to trim their mums back to 4” tall and cover them with a light, airy mulch or straw.
You can propagate mums from either seeds, cuttings from another plant, or by plant divisions. Dividing your mums is beneficial for the new clumps that will grow, and will thrive more than the older clumps. To propagate, dig up the shoots when they’re 1 to 3 inches tall and throw out any dead parts of the divisions, and replant the healthy divisions. You should divide every 4 or 5 years and move your mums each time to avoid disease. To propagate from the cuttings of the plant, just snip off a piece about 4 to 6 inches long, then remove the leaves on the bottom half. Dip the cuttings into rooting hormone and insert about 1 inch into sand or vermiculite. You can make your own miniature greenhouse simply by using a wire frame with some plastic wrap, and by placing the plants under bright light (not sunlight) until they are rooted. If growing from seed, sow seeds at least 2 months before the first frost, or start indoors over the winter. The growing medium should be kept at 70 to 75 degrees, if done, seeds should germinate in 1-3 weeks.
Chrysanthemums are a great choice for fall gardens, and with so many options to choose from, you’re bound to find a few blooms that look stunning to you. They are a great flower to use as filler for any empty spaces, and will bring amazing vibrancy to your garden and help pollinators. We hope you enjoyed reading and hope this assists anyone who still wants to plant mums!