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How to Take Care of Mum Plants

Chrysanthemums, known affectionately as mums, are the queens of fall's cool weather kingdom. With deeply lobed, dark green upright leaves, the mum will inspire you with a host of beautiful flower forms and colors to choose from. Favorites for autumn color once most other annual or tough perennials have called it quits, mums will bloom until hard frost paints the world white. Care for the annual potted mum is quite easy, while garden mums treated as perennials require a little more dedication.

Choose a container with a drainage hole or a site with well-drained soil for your mums. Part sun to shade is perfect for annual mum plants, which will already have bud sets ready to bloom when you purchase them from a retailer. Shade will encourage the blooms to look better for a longer time period.

Plant annual mums in a container that will accommodate the root ball comfortably, in a good potting soil mix.

Water mums well after planting, and continue watering every two days or as needed to sustain blooms. Compost faded annual mum plants at the end of the season.

Plant perennial garden mums during spring in full sun for optimum root establishment prior to winter. Allow 6 to 12 inches between bedded mums to allow for growth and air circulation. Tall cultivars may grow up to 3 feet tall, while dwarf varieties remain low and bunchy.

Prepare perennial garden mums for winter by mulching with up to 4 inches over the plant. Do not cut back stems until spring to encourage overwintering success.

Remove the mulch from the beds of over-wintered mums and cut back dead plant material in spring. Fertilize regularly with during the early spring growing season to encourage late summer and fall blooms.

Pinch back one-third of the new growth at a leaf bud junction up to three times during the summer prior to flowering. This routine maintenance creates a full, round perennial bush that will produce beautiful a fall display in your garden.


Know the type of mum you are putting in the ground for winter. Even with proper care, certain mum cultivars are grown purely for annual color and will not survive outdoors over winter. Display annual mums for color spots in fall, and plant hardy perennial garden mum varieties for dependable seasonal color.

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