How to Take Care of Mum Flowers

Overview

Mum flowers (Chrysanthemums), herbaceous perennials valued for their large flowers, bloom during fall, adding a splash of color after most annuals have died back. The flowers appear in any color except blue, depending on the variety. The hardy plants reach up to 3 feet tall, though any size can be maintained with regular pruning. Hardy in zones 4 through 11, mum flowers thrive throughout much of the U.S., but require special winter care to survive in cool climates.

Step 1

Plant mum flowers during spring after all danger of frost has passed. Choose a planting site that receives full sunlight throughout the day and consists of well-drained soil. Apply a 3-inch layer of organic compost to the planting site and use a spade to work it into the soil to improve fertility and drainage before planting.

Step 2

Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding mum flowers to deter weeds and improve moisture conservation. Begin the layer 2 to 3 inches from the plant's crown to minimize the risk of disease caused by inadequate air circulation.

Step 3

Water mum flowers once per week during spring and summer to keep the soil moist at all times but not wet. Soak the soil to a depth of 4 to 6 inches at each watering to ensure the plant receives enough moisture. Do not water during fall or winter.

Step 4

Feed mums once per year during spring using a slow-release 5-10-10 NPK fertilizer to slowly add nutrients to the soil throughout the year. Read the manufacturer's directions for proper application and dosage information.

Step 5

Pinch back mum flower side branches by 2 to 3 inches when they have reached 6 inches in length to promote bushy, compact growth. Continue pinching regularly until mid-summer to ensure flowering before winter.

Step 6

Spread a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch over mum flowers during late fall to insulate the soil and protect the roots against cold damage during winter. Remove the mulch and reapply the previous 2- to 3-inch layer the following spring after all danger of frost has passed to allow new growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic compost
  • Spade
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer

References

  • Clemson University Extension Home & Garden Information Center: Chrysanthemum
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Garden Chrysanthemums
  • "Nevada Gardener's Guide"; Linn Mills, Dick Post; 2005
Keywords: mum flowers, chrysanthemums, care of mums

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.