Tips for getting the most out of your mums
Chrysanthemums have long been a favorite for spectacular fall color, and choosing the right varieties will provide a fantastic show from mid-September until the first killing frost. Mums can be planted in containers or beds, and look great when grouped together. Just follow these simple care tips:
Mums can be planted in spring or fall – spring is the best choice for getting them to survive the winter. Mums purchased in fall should be planted at least 6 weeks before a killing frost. (bear in mind that not all garden mums are not true perennials) Mums grow best in full sun, (minimum of 6 hours of mid-day sun) and require well-drained soil which is rich in organic matter. Plant your mums at the same soil level as in the pot and space them at least 18” apart, as they will spread in the coming years.
Mums kept in pots or containers should be watered daily, or when the soil is dry. Mums in the garden should be watered in well when newly planted, then watered when soil surface is dry.
Organic fertilizers, such as manure and bone meal work best for mums. If chemical fertilizers such as Jack’s classic water soluble fertilizer are used, it should only be applied until buds form.
Mums which can make it thru the winter will need to be pinched or cut back throughout the growing season. First, cut back last year’s dead growth in spring as soon as you see new green growth appears at the base of the plant. When the new growth reaches about 6”, trim back up to ½ of the plant. When you see new buds forming, pinch off about 1” – 2” on all of the branches to form a sturdy, rounded plant. Your mum will then be ready to put on its spectacular fall show!
Dividing your mums every 3 – 4 years will renew their vigor and keep them in the best shape. Spring is the best time to divide, making sure to water them in well and use a root stimulator when planting to promote strong root development and prevent transplant shock.
Mums overwinter best if they are not cut back in the fall, and are given some extra mulch around the base of the plant in mid-January. Evergreen boughs make a great protective mulch, because they don’t mat down and will not allow extra moisture to collect around the plant. (Plus, it’s a great way to re-cycle your Christmas tree!)