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Fall Mums

Nothing lifts the mood and adds more pizazz and vibrance to a fall garden than fall mums. Chrysanthemums are one of the autumn’s most beloved fall flowers to plant. They come in a wide array of cultivars that produce showy mounds of color as summer blooms fade. It can be fun to mix and match varieties to create a showy display of color before winter takes its hold.

The garden mum continually impresses gardeners everywhere with their potential to be both an annual and a perennial depending on the growing environment of the plant, when it is planted and how it is protected. Discover how to plant and care for these fall favorites and brighten up your landscape with fall mums that will enhance your curb appeal.

orange, green, yellow, and white pumpkins surrounded by potted pink mums

Best Time to Plant Mums

Mums are showcased prominently in fall and sold as annuals, while they are often overlooked in the springtime.  They are rather inexpensive and can be a natural impulse buy to brighten up the chillier days of fall. They can be planted in the ground in the fall, and they will add life to your garden, but they only have a small chance of survival as a hardy perennial. Mums that are purchased and planted in the fall are at the close of their flowering cycle.

This means that the plants are forcing their energy to produce flowers as opposed to roots. Such plants do not have well-developed root systems that make them robust enough to sustain the effects of harsh winter climates. Nevertheless, fall mums add extended warmth to any landscape and

The ideal time to plant mums is in the springtime, so they have a strong chance of establishing themselves in the ground well before the onset of winter.  Planting mums in the spring requires more care, pinching off spent blooms, and pruning but increases your chances at a hardy plant that will keep on giving each year.

Soil Composition

Mums grow best in well-draining soil that is full of organic matter. Amend the soil in your garden bed with fertile and well-decomposed compost for best results. Strive for a soil that measures between 5.8 to 6.8 on the pH scale. If you are not sure about the pH of your soil, you can obtain an inexpensive test kit at your local garden center. If you have low spots that puddle up or get too soggy, then you might want to consider planting your mums in containers or raised garden beds.

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orange mums, dark pink mums, yellow mums in the garden

How to Plant Mums

Mums can be transplanted into containers, planted in the ground or raised beds. No matter where you plant them is important to ensure that mums have adequate sunlight and proper drainage to avoid oversaturation and demise of these fall plants.

Containers

Mums make tremendous container plants and can be displayed in a variety of different ways. First, make sure that the container that you use has holes for water to drain through. Then fill your container 1/3 of the way with potting mix.  Remove the mums from their nursery pots and gently jostle the roots before placing them in their pots. Fill the pot up with a potting mix so that the root ball is buried one inch below the soil surface. Water in well. Mums can share space with other textured plants within a pot or window box for added appeal. Create a decorative fall feature by corralling potted mums, pumpkins, gourds, and a hay bale or two.

Traditional In-Ground Gardens

Mums can make quite a visual impact on any landscape when planted in the ground. Ensure proper air circulation around plants by planting 18-24 inches apart. Dig holes in well-draining soil two times the size of the root ball and deep enough so that the plant sits at one inch below the soil surface. Fill in the hole with soil and firmly pat the soil to secure them in the ground. Water in well. Chrysanthemums really stand out when planted in clusters and also look great as fillers in vacant spots along the edges of garden beds.

pink mums and orange pumpkin

Light Requirements

Mums thrive in areas where they receive a full five to seven hours of sunlight per day. Plants that do not receive adequate sunlight will become leggy and won’t produce blooms as readily as those planted in full sun.

Watering

Since mums do best in full sun and have shallow root systems, they need regular watering. Water plants in well immediately after repotting or planting and usually about every other day or when soil is dry to the touch. Adding a couple of inches of mulch around the base of your mums will help to protect root systems from cold temperatures and help retain moisture.

Pruning

Pruning ensures vigorous, well-shaped mounds of colorful blooms that last and is important and easy to do as long as you keep up with the task regularly. If you are planting your fall bloomer as an annual, the pruning has basically already been done for you. All you will need to do it pinch off spent flowers to encourage new blooms and to keep your plants looking vibrant.

If you are planting a mum in the springtime, pinch off 3-6 inches of new growth every couple of weeks to maintain and encourage a compact mound. The aim is to continually pinch prune through the spring and summer and allow the plants to flourish once July 4th rolls around. This should ensure a supple mound of showy blooms by the time fall sets in.

Pests and Disease

Luckily for gardeners, these bright and cheerful bloomers are relatively resistant against disease and pests. Keep an eye out for insects such as leaf miners and aphids, which can damage plant leaves when they present themselves in large numbers, and fungal diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew.  The best treatment for the disease is prevention. Space chrysanthemums appropriately and water early in the day so that moisture will not remain on the leaves at night.


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orange and yellow mums
red mums

4 Comments

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  1. I really enjoy chrysanthemums when they’re
    Large & look more like Dahlias & free flowing
    Rather than so compact. Where do nurseries
    Sell in spring time? Thank, no orange, no rust
    Donna Naeve Burke

    • Hi Donna, we enjoy chrysanthemums too. To find them in the spring you may need to look online or talk to a local nursery or garden center to see what they can bring in for you.

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