Caring for Mums

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Summer offers us all sorts of colorful flowers but just because the seasons have changed it doesn’t mean our fall gardens can’t be just as spectacular – thanks in large part to the chrysanthemum. Better known as the mum, it is considered one of the most beloved flowers around!

Mums give us an array of amazing colors and bloom shapes, making them autumn’s most popular flower. Their blooms last for weeks, they’re substantial and they’re hearty. What’s not to love?

Of course, in order for mums to achieve their full potential, keep the following in mind when it comes to planting:

  • Location, location, location. Mums should be planted where they’ll get at least six hours of sun a day. Remember, if they don’t get enough light, they won’t produce as many flowers.
  • Mums are partial to well-drained soil. If your lawn is drenched after a light rain, mums should be grown in raised beds. If you have clay-heavy soil, add compost (if you’re planting in a pot, fill it with a mixture of potting soil and compost). Dig holes about one inch longer than the roots – maybe 8-10 inches. The top of the root balls should be even with the top of soil.
  • Make sure you water the mums (morning is best and try not to water during the hottest time of the day). Never allow them to wilt – give them about an inch of water each week. If the bottom leaves look brown or lifeless, give them a bit more water.
  • Don’t fertilize plants set out in the fall as annuals (mums planted in the spring need a fertilizer once a month).
  • Prepare mums for winter after the first hard frost. Mulch several inches with straw and fill in around the plant. Pinch off dead blooms but leave the branches intact (it’s best to wait until spring to prune old stems). When it warms up outside, pull away the mulch to make way for new shoots.
  • Make sure you divide mums that are grown as perennials every two years. Divide in the spring after you see new growth (after the last hard frost). Dig up the plant and separate the outer pieces from the center with a large knife. Replant the outer portions and get rid of the original center of the plant.

One more thing, if you want your mums to look their absolute brightest and beautiful, pinch away. Pinching keeps plants compact and also gives them more branching. Happy planting!

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