What Should I Do With My Potted Mums After They Bloom?
Did you purchase a bunch of annual mums this season, and they are slowly losing their blooms? What should you do with them when they've started to look rugged? In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen provides five different options you can pursue with your chrysanthemums once their blooms expire.
It’s Mum season. You bought some pots of beautifully blooming Chrysanthemums, and now the blooms are starting to fade, or perhaps they are completely finished blooming. What should you do with your potted Mums now?
You have options. There isn’t one right or wrong thing to do with your potted Mums when they are finished blooming. Depending on how much effort you want to put into your plants, you can potentially keep them alive and blooming for many years to come.
Mums are hardy perennials and can survive winters from USDA hardiness zones 5-9. These plants are a fall favorite for good reason, and readily available for purchase.
Mums can be grown in their original nursery pots and displayed on a porch, deck, walkway, garden wall, or by the mailbox. They can be transplanted into larger containers or incorporated into mixed species plantings. They can even be planted directly into a sunny garden location. No matter where you put them, the flowers will produce a beautiful display and then eventually finish blooming. So, now that your mums are done blooming, what should you do next?
First, Deadhead Them
As the flowers fade, turn brown, and die, you can deadhead and hope for a second flush of blooms. This only works if you have your Mums fairly early in the season.
You can deadhead summer blooms and hope for a second flush of flowers in the fall. If you have a spectacular show of autumn blooms, you should still deadhead.
Removing the spent flowers helps keep your plant looking its best and may encourage more flower buds for form. Simply pinch off the dead flowers with a sharp scissors or small pruning shears.
Place Them in a Larger Pot
If you want to keep your plant around a while, you can put it into a larger pot. You can also plant it into a larger container with other plants for an attractive mixed planting. The potted mums purchased in the fall are typically both in full bloom and rootbound. When your plant is finished blooming, you can remove the spent flowers and transplant it into a larger pot.
Choose a pot that’s at least a little larger than the existing pot, to give the roots some space to expand. Make sure your container or planter has good drainage holes on the bottom.
Mums like to be kept moist, but don’t like waterlogged soil. Use good quality potting soil. The soil should be rich in organic matter, loose, and well-drained.
Plant Them in Your Yard or Garden
Mums are perennials, hardy from zones 5-9. If you want to keep your Chrysanthemums for future years of growing and blooming, you can plant them in the ground. The best time to plant is in spring or fall.
If planting in the fall, try to give them some time in the ground before the first frost hits. This will give the roots a chance to grow a little and get established. If you are hoping to keep your Mums around a while, take some time to choose an ideal spot for them.
Find a sunny spot to put them. Mums do best with full sun to part shade and need at least 6 hours of bright sunlight each day. They will tolerate part shade, as long as they get their minimum hours of sunlight. Plants will look better, grow better, and produce more flowers if they receive adequate sunlight.
Mums like their soil to be moist but not wet. Check on them regularly and give them a drink of water whenever the soil starts to feel dry. Make sure the soil is well drained so the roots are never sitting in soggy waterlogged soil. Also make sure the roots don’t dry out completely or your plants will start to turn brown and dry.
You can use wood chips, bark chips, straw, or leaf compost as a mulch for your Mums.
Mulch can help your Mums in two main ways. First, it can help keep the roots moist. If you add a thin layer of mulch around your plants during the growing season, it will help preserve soil moisture.
Second, mulch can help protect your plant’s roots from frost damage. Later in the season when there is risk of frost, add a thick layer of mulch around your plants to help keep the roots from freezing. In the spring, remove some of the compost from around your plant so it isn’t completely covered with mulch and has access to the sun.
When you first transplant your Mums into the ground, you don’t need to do any pruning. You can even allow them to overwinter as they are. But sometime during the dormant period in the winter, or in early spring before the plant starts growing again, prune them back to between 3 and 6 inches above the ground. This will help your plants grow more densely and compact when they regrow in the spring.
Overwinter Them Indoors
If you don’t plant your Mums outside in the garden, you can still overwinter them in their pots. Ideally, first transplant them into larger pots so they have a little more room to grow. If you live in an area that receives frost, move your potted Mums into a protected place that will stay above freezing. You don’t want the roots to freeze or they may die.
You can put your plants into any cool and dark location, such as an unheated garage or shed. Another option is to put them in a cold frame during the winter months. Wherever you decide to overwinter your Mums, don’t forget about them.
You should still try to keep the roots moist and not allow them to completely dry out, but they won’t need as much water as during the warmer active growing season.
While they are dormant, prune the plants down to 3-6 inches. After danger of frost, place your Mums in a sunny spot outdoors, and they should keep growing. Given the same care as in-ground plants, you can encourage your Mums to bloom for a second year.
You can also decide to transplant your potted plants to a garden planting in the spring, which is a great time to add plants to your landscape.
Add Them to Your Compost Pile
Dead flowers can make great composting material for your garden. Composting allows you to turn the dead plants into a mulch, and use it to protect any other plants that need a little extra protection through the wintertime.
If you decide to add them to your compost pile, make sure that they haven’t had any type of disease. If the plant is diseased, the disease can spread depending on what it’s infected with. It’s important to discard any plants that appear to have been infected, especially with more transmissible diseases like powdery mildew.
Throw Them Away
Some people don’t want to keep potted Mums when they are finished blooming. They may simply buy new plants every year. If your plant has finished blooming but the leaves are still green, you can enjoy the lush green foliage a little longer.
Deadhead the spent flowers and enjoy a pot of greenery until the end of the growing season. After the first hard frost, your plant will likely die unless it is protected from freezing. When the plant has died, you can recycle or reuse the pot, and dispose of the plant with yard waste.
Mums are beautiful and versatile plants. You can thoroughly enjoy them for one season, or for many years. Pinching off spent blooms can encourage your plant to bloom for a longer period of time. Given proper care, Mums are hardy plants that will bloom annually anywhere from late summer through late fall.
You can keep them growing in containers or add them to your garden. If you don’t want to care for them beyond their first bloom, you can always give them away to someone else, or compost them. Whichever method you choose, enjoy the dazzling fall Chrysanthemum floral display.