How to Care for Hardy Mum Flowers

Hardy mums add color to the garden in fall. image by shelley_ginger/Flickr.com

Overview

Hardy mum flowers, also known as garden mums or hardy chrysanthemums, are genetically capable of surviving the winter, as opposed to non-hardy mums. However, they can still die if they aren't given the proper care, maintenance and winter preparations. Healthy mums will bloom in early through late fall, usually August through mid-November. Hardy mum flowers in colors of white, yellow, orange, bronze, pink and red are common in fall gardens throughout the country.

Step 1

Plant hardy mums in spring, in a sunny well-drained area of the garden. Use a garden tiller to mix organic compost into the first six inches of the soil before planting. Plant container mums at the same depth they were previously growing, and rooted cuttings so the roots are just covered with soil. Space mum plants 18 to 24 inches apart to allow room for root growth.

Step 2

Add a four-inch layer of heavy bark mulch to the soil around hardy mum plants. Replenish the mulch each year in the fall for the first two years to protect the roots from harsh winter temperatures. After this, the plants should be established enough to survive winter without the added protection, although continued mulching can prevent weeds and retain moisture.

Step 3

Water hardy mum flowers immediately after planting, and then twice per week during spring, summer and fall, soaking the soil to a depth of one inch. They will tolerate light drought conditions, but will perform better when regular watering is provided.

Step 4

Fertilize hardy mums once per month during spring and summer using a complete water-soluble 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the packaging for proper dosage and application. Water immediately after application to prevent wilting or root burn, and to distribute the nutrients throughout the soil.

Step 5

Pinch hardy mums to remove the growing tips, once when the plant is about six inches tall and again when the shoots have grown an additional six inches. Pinch off the growing tip of each shoot with your fingers, which will promote branching and compact growth habits, and lead to more blooms in the fall.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not fertilize hardy mum flowers after the end of summer. The halt in feeding will signal that it's time to bloom and prepare for winter, which is necessary for the healthy life cycle of the plants. Do not pinch early blooming cultivars later than June 15, and do not pinch late blooming cultivars later than July 15. Doing so will not give enough time for the plant to recover before it's time to bloom.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller
  • Organic compost
  • Bark mulch
  • Water-soluble fertilizer

References

  • Mum's the Word for Fall Color in the Garden
  • Book: Illinois Gardener's Guide; James A. Fizzell; 2002
  • Book: Nevada Gardener's Guide; Linn Mills, Dick Post; 2005
Keywords: hardy mum flowers, hardy mums, hardy chrysanthemums

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.

Photo by: shelley_ginger/Flickr.com