Mums (chrysanthemums) are the ubiquitous fall flower. Colorful and hardy---so hardy they are often simply called "hardy mums"---they come in a stunning array of colors, from bright orange to deep burgundy, and will bloom from mid-August until the first hard frost of the year. These plants are easy to care for, making them the perfect choice for both the beginning and expert home gardener who wants a beautiful, late-season flowering perennial.
While some cultivars are more cold-hardy than others, the majority of mums grow best in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) plant hardiness zones 8 through 10A, according to information published by the University of Florida. In other climates, they can be grown in containers and brought indoors for part of the year, but they grow better as outdoor plants.
Mums are excellent full-sun plants. They can tolerate the direct rays of the sun very well, and will not bloom prolifically if placed in a shady location. Position your mums so that they receive at least eight hours of sunlight per day.
Soil and Water
Mums are adaptable plants and will grow in many different types of soil, from clay to sandy, according to the University of Florida. What they will not tolerate, however, is overly wet soil. Well-draining soil is necessary to prevent the plant from developing root rot, a fungal disease that destroys the roots of mum plants. When the plant is blooming, keep the soil moist but not saturated. When it stops blooming, let the top of the soil dry out slightly.
Mums thrive on fertilizer. Feed your mums weekly with a water-soluble fertilizer formulated for blooming perennials. Apply the fertilizer according to the directions on the label as per the size and age of your plant.
Mums do not need to be pruned, but you can pinch off new growth to encourage a bushier shape. Remove the top half-inch of newly growing plants every month from early spring to mid-summer to encourage good blooming and a full shape.