A very popular plant for late season color is fall mums, also called “Garden mums” or “Hardy mums”. Fall mums were once known as Chrysanthemums, but taxonomists have recently changed their botanical name to Dendranthema x grandiflora. Fall mums are available in a wide selection of colors, flower types, shapes and sizes. They are a low maintenance, easy to grow plant that can be kept in containers or grown in beds. They are drought resistant and generally free of insect and disease pests.
Most fall mums are purchased and planted from late August into September. They prefer to be planted in an area that receives full sun, but most cultivars can get by with a half day of direct sunshine. For ultimate growth, plant your new fall mums in fertile well- drained soil. Poorly drained soil is the leading cause of winter mortality. Young plants in small containers should be planted 18-24 inches apart. Mature plants can be planted at any desired spacing providing they are planted no closer than just touching their neighbor. Fall mums in containers need to be planted in the ground BEFORE the first hard frost!
Fall mums should never be allowed to wilt…especially newly transplanted plants. Check your mums every other day for watering until you become familiar with their needs, particularly during dry spells. Be sure to thoroughly water-in your new transplants.
Newly planted fall mums will not require any fertilizer this season. During the next growing season begin feeding your mums as new growth emerges with Schultz fertilizer. Feed your plants at least monthly until August.
OVERWINTER FALL MUMS
Many people have a difficult time overwintering fall mums. There are two basic reasons for this:
- Planting too late and not allowing the plant to establish itself in the ground.
- Not mulching the plant to protect against temperature extremes.
If you have trouble over-wintering fall mums, try this method:
Keep mums in their pots. Once they have been frosted and turn all brown, cut them back to within one inch of the soil. Be sure the soil is moist, if not, water. Next, place the pot in a protected area, whether it is in an unheated shed, garage, cold frame, against a building or under the protective branches of an evergreen tree. The idea is to protect the plant from getting as cold as the regular outside temperature. If placing the plant outdoors, cover it with 6-10 inches of mulch or 12- 18 inches of leaves. If keeping the plant in an unheated building, place it on top of some newspapers or magazines to help insulate the roots, then surround the plant with more papers just to protect them from any drafts and keep them a little warmer. If keeping the plant inside, check it once a month to see if it needs to be watered. If dry, water. When the weather turns mild in March, bring the pots outside and place them where they will be watered and fertilized throughout the summer, or plant them in the ground. See our fact sheet on how to grow and care for fall mums.
REGROWING… the following Spring
Once your fall mums start re-growing, remove the old stems. Start feeding every month until August., To encourage branching and compact bushy growth it is important to pinch the plants in the early spring. Once the plant has reached 4- 6 inches, remove 1-2 inches of the new growth on every shoot. After the plants have grown 3-5 inches from the first pinching, it is time to pinch again (1-2 inches). Stop pinching your plants around mid-July. This may seem like a drastic measure, but come fall you will be rewarded with compact bushy plants that are robust with flowers. Your mums can be divided every two years in early spring.