How to shop for mums
- Look for plants with healthy foliage with no wilting leaves or blooms, and without sign of insect damage or disease.
- The plant’s soil should be moist and not dry.
- Purchasing locally-raised mums from a farm or nursery ensures that the varieties grown are well suited to your growing region. This is especially important if you will be transplanting the mum outdoors in your flower bed or displaying the potted plant outside. Garden or hardy mums endure cooler outdoor temperatures better than florist mums, which are raised as indoor plants only.
- When choosing potted mums for an event that will occur within a few days, purchase plants brimming with colorful flowers.
- For long term enjoyment, select a plant that is loaded with unopened, tight flower buds, instead of one in full bloom. The buds will bloom over the course of several weeks, providing a continuous showing of beautiful flowers.
- To keep your outdoor space filled with flowering mums all season, select an assortment of varieties that bloom at different times from late summer through mid-fall.
- Looking for something different? Besides the traditional, decorative overlapping petals, mum varieties are also available with different shaped blooms. You can choose exotic florist varieties with a pompon or single, daisy-like flower for indoor use or as a short-term autumnal outdoor decoration, as these cultivars aren’t able to withstand cold weather.
Caring for potted mums
- Once you’ve determined the perfect spot to display your mum, place a tray beneath the flower pot to keep the soil moist. It is important to prevent the plant from getting too dry or wilting between watering.
- Unless the mum is in a very sunny and hot location, watering the plant well, once a day should be sufficient.
- When watering, instead of pouring water through the dense flowers, water the plant’s soil.
- Although fertilizing isn’t necessary for container mums, you may add a water soluble plant food once a week when watering.
- Protect your outdoor potted mums from the elements by planting them in outdoor containers such as terracotta, concrete or resin with additional potting soil.
- You can also dig a hole in the ground and set the plant, nursery pot and all into the soil to help it survive cool nights. Most garden mums should be able to endure a light fall frost. Cover the plants at night when freeze warnings are in effect.
- To keep the plant attractive and healthy, snip off any dead blossom as soon as it wilts. However, if you are in a cold climate, leaving the dead foliage on the plants has been found to help the plant survive colder temperatures better than pruned plants.
Annuals or Perennials?
Most mums are sold in garden centers and nurseries as annuals, particularly in growing zones 1 to 4. However, some cultivars are able to withstand below zero temperatures, and are considered perennials. If you want chrysanthemums included in your year round landscape, read the label on the plant, or ask your local nursery for hardy varieties suited for your climate.
Planting Mums in the Flower Bed
Mums require six or more hours of direct sun daily.
- Dig the hole 2 times the width of the pot.
- Place in the hole even with ground level. Back fill with garden soil to ground level.
- Water with a flower and vegetable water-soluble plant food as directed on the label.
- Add a 3" layer of mulch.
- Water daily or as needed until established.
For outdoor winter survival, only prune hardy bedding plants in early summer. Do not remove dead mum blooms or prune in fall or winter. Heavily mulch planted mums in the fall, before freezing temperatures occur.
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans. Deborah is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.