Care of Mum Plants


Mums, or chrysanthemums, bloom in late summer and fall when summer annuals and perennials are dying or going dormant for the winter. The large, multi-petaled blooms of garden mums come in nearly any color desired, along with some bi-color varieties. Both hardy and tender mums are available. Hardy mums survive well in areas with cold winters, while tender mums are grown as perennials in mild winter areas or as annuals in colder climates. Proper care of the mums ensures they flower profusely and return the next year if they are grown as perennials.

Step 1

Plant mums in well-drained, full-sun garden beds. Work a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost into the top 8 inches of soil prior to planting, to aid drainage and to add nutrients to the garden.

Step 2

Water mums one to two times a week, or often enough to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Stick your finger in the garden bed and water until the top 6 inches of soil feels moist.

Step 3

Mulch around plants in spring with a 2-inch layer of bark or wood chip mulch. Mulching preserves soil moisture and prevents weeds during the spring and summer months.

Step 4

Fertilize mums once a month from when they begin growing in spring until the end of July. Fertilize with a balanced, soluble fertilizer, following the application instructions on the fertilizer label.

Step 5

Pinch off the growing the top ½ inch of each growing stem in spring when the mums reach 4 to 6 inches tall. Continue to pinch the mums in this manner every three weeks until the beginning of June. This encourages the plants to grow full and bushy.

Step 6

Mulch mums in fall once the ground begins to freeze. Lay a 4- to 6-inch layer of straw over the mums to protect them from the cold and winter burn. Remove winter mulch in spring and replace with summer mulch.

Tips and Warnings

  • Mums need the long nights and sunny days of fall to bloom well. Do not plant mums near street lamps or nighttime outdoor lights, as this inhibits blooming.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Bark mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Straw mulch


  • Iowa State University Extension: Growing Chrysanthemums in the Garden
Keywords: mum flower care, growing chrysanthemums, maintaining garden mums

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.