7 Tips That Will Keep Your Mums Blooming Until First Frost
Are you looking to extend the bloom life of your mums this season? There are a few things you can do to keep your chrysanthemums blooms in season. In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago walks through her top tips for keeping your mums blooming up until first frost!
Mums are the glory of the autumn garden. When the school buses are back in sight and the air gets that sudden fall feeling, you know it is mum season. Usually, there is not much else blooming at this time in the garden, making the gem-like blossoms of the mum even more splendid.
There are so many different types of mums, each with a large variety of colors. No matter if you plant mums as perennials or annuals, they bring the same charm to your garden. You can plant your mums in your beds, in hanging baskets or in containers scattered throughout your yard.
Let’s learn how to get the most out of your mums and keep them blooming until the first frost rolls into town.
Pick the Right Mum
There are garden mums which are hardier and grown as perennials as well as mums that are grown as annuals and typically found in pots at your garden centers. It is important to know what kind of mum you are growing so you can plan accordingly.
Garden mums, also known as hardy mums, are hardy in zones 5-9 and can grow anywhere from a few inches tall to 36 inches depending on the variety. These mums come in the same variety of colors as the fall mums that are grown as annuals. Plant these mums in the spring once the ground has thawed. Garden mums are a good option if you are looking to add perennial color to your garden and if you have space for perennials that will not bloom until the fall.
Before we get too confused here, the “annual” mums you pick up from your garden center in September are actually perennials. This type of mum will not be able to grow as a perennial in zones 7 and cooler. Other than the difference in hardiness zones, these plants have the same type of growth habit and care needs as the garden mums.
Look for Plants with Tight Buds
While you are browsing the aisles of your garden center it can be very tempting to grab a mum that is exploding with fall colors. Try your best to resist the temptation. Walk away from the mum.
Look for mums that have nice tight buds. There should be a lot of tiny buds covering this plant. Purchasing a mum like this will ensure that you will get the longest bloom possible because the mum has not even started yet.
Do take note of what colors you like and make sure whatever pots you grab are labeled with that variety.
Pinch Throughout the Season
When it comes to your hardy mums they are pretty low maintenance. They grow very attractive, mounded foliage throughout the season as they are getting ready to put on their fall show.
Once your plant has reached about 8 inches tall you can begin to pinch the plant’s stems. Pinching is easily done by actually using your fingers (or garden scissors) to pinch off up to half of the plant’s height.
This is an important step to promote the flowering of your mums. All year long they grow foliage, when the days are cooler and shorter they begin to produce flowers. When you pinch back growth you are encouraging more branching off of your existing stems. This results in a more attractive, compact plant. More branching means more flower buds!
You should pinch your perennial mums back once in the spring when they have reached about 8 inches in height, and then again around the 4th of July. The first pinch will cause the new tips of the plant to become dormant, and the second pinch will produce the flower buds.
Another great reason to pinch your mums is to avoid them flopping over. We’ve all seen the tall, leggy mums that almost don’t even look like mums. Of course, your plant will survive perfectly well if you decide not to pinch it back. You will just end up with a wild mum that does not have very many blooms.
Pay Attention to Sunlight
Chrysanthemums require full sun exposure to have strong stems, and a prolific amount of flowers. I would consider this a hard and fast rule for bedding mums. However, if you have planted your mums in containers and are using them as a seasonal display, you may want to consider keeping the pits in partial shade.
There are a few reasons for this. First of all, these mums have already produced the bulk of their flowers and the extra sunlight at this point will not help the plant to produce and set more buds.
The second reason is that the sun will actually cause your flowers to turn brown more quickly than if they get a little bit of a break during the day.
Keep Them Watered
While your mum is growing in its vegetative state, they will require about an inch of water a week similarly to most other perennials.
When they begin to flower, however, you will want to keep your eye on your plants and prevent them from drying out. This could require additional watering sessions throughout the bloom period.
Do not forget to water your potted mums! Oftentimes the fall mums are quite pot-bound when you purchase them from the store. Once they have been transplanted into your pots, you will want to continue to water them frequently because as with all potted plants, they dry out more quickly due to the lack of soil and water that is available to them.
Once your mums have begun to bloom, it is important to deadhead them. Deadheading your mums can do one of two things. It can promote new blooms. It also can just expose some hidden flower buds that have been covered by some of the larger blooms.
Once you snip these flowers off, either with your fingers or small garden snips, you will improve the appearance of your mum and new flowers will soon begin to appear.
Protect the Roots
Mums have shallow and sensitive roots, especially the annual variety. In order to protect them from the cooling autumn temperatures, it is a good idea to mulch around your mums. You can use bark mulch, or opt for leaves or straw. Whatever suits your garden.
You can add mulch in the springtime, or in the fall when you plant your potted mums. This will give your garden a nice neat appearance.
When your perennial mums have finished blooming in the fall, add an extra mulch of your choice to keep the roots safe if you live in a cooler climate. This will help to ensure that your mums make a happy return in the spring.
I hope that this fall is full of happy and brightly colored mums for your garden. Mums make wonderful additions to the fall landscape, whether they are grown as perennials or as annuals. Once you have mastered the easy tips above you will be well on your way to glorious flowering mums.