Garden mums (genus Chrysanthemum) are a versatile group of plants found in gardens all over the world.
These blooms are prized for their gorgeous, long-lasting flower heads, which come in various colors and bicolored looks.
Mums will grow well in various conditions, from sunny locations to areas with little natural light, and they have few problems with pests or diseases. They’re also deer resistant, making them a good choice for gardens in regions where wildlife is present.
Garden Mums: Perennials or Annuals? (A Gardening Debate!)
The plants can be classified either as perennials or annuals, depending on where they are planted and how long they remain in one spot before dying.
Perennial Garden Mums
- These are the hardy types of mums that can be planted in early spring or late fall.
- They will grow well throughout the winter and then rest over the summer months, re-emerging with fresh new blooms by autumn.
- Perennial garden mums are tough enough to survive cold snaps without any problem, but they’ll need to be mulched—to protect their roots from freezing over during freezing weather.
- You need to plant them only once per year, as they’re able to survive for many years without being replanted or divided.
- These mums will grow well in most soil types and require very little fertilizer or care once they’ve been established.
Annual Garden Mums
- If you live in a harsh climate or only want the flowers for short-term enjoyment, annual mums are a great plant choice!
- These blooms will grow quickly and produce beautiful flower heads within about three months of being planted.
- They can then be harvested and enjoyed or simply discarded in the trash when no longer in season.
- Unlike their perennial counterparts, annual mums should be planted every year to continue growing new blooms that can brighten up your yard from spring through fall.
- Annuals are also a good choice if you don’t want to invest in perennial plants.
- Both types of garden mums are easy to care for and will grow well with minimal effort on your part.
- They’ll also attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and other wildlife that can benefit both you and the environment!
Planting Your Chrysanthemums aka Garden Mums
- The best time to plant mums is in spring.
- Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and about 8 to 12 inches deep.
- Break up the soil at the bottom of the hole before placing the plants in the hole. If you have heavy, poorly drained soil, add some compost or manure to lighten it up.
- Ensure a spacing of at least 12 inches apart (between the plants) to allow adequate air circulation and encourage better growth.
- Remember, garden mums should be planted at the same depth they were in their containers.
- Cover with soil and tamp down gently.
- Water thoroughly until water runs out the bottom of your container.
- After planting, add 1 to 2 inches of mulch (a layer of bark or pine needles) around the base of each plant for weed control and moisture retention.
- Mulching also helps prevent fungus growth on the stems of the plants.
- Mums can be planted directly into the ground or in containers.
- If you choose to plant them in garden beds, they should be fed and watered regularly throughout their growing season for optimal results.
- When planting garden mums for fall blooms, be sure to plant them at least six weeks before frost is expected so that they have enough time to grow!
More About Garden Mums (Garden chrysanthemums)
|Common name||Garden chrysanthemum, garden mum, mum, hardy chrysanthemum|
|Soil type||Rich, moist, humusy, and well-draining|
|Sun exposure||Full sun|
|Mature size||12-36 inches wide and 4-36 inches tall (depending on the variety)|
|Bloom time||Late summer, fall|
|Flower color||Yellow, off-white, red, gold, burgundy, lavender, pink, purple, and bronze (rust)|
Garden Mums Care Tips
While mums are generally pretty low-maintenance, there are a few care tips you should keep in mind to ensure that your plants will be healthy and beautiful.
- Whether annuals or perennials, mums need at least one inch of water per week to thrive!
- If you live in an area where the summer months are scorching and dry, you’ll need to water the plants even more often.
- Whenever possible, water early in the morning, when temperatures are cool, to prevent moisture loss due to evaporation and ensure that roots receive enough hydration until nighttime.
- Fertilize your mums about once a month with either liquid or granular bloom-boosting fertilizer.
- You can opt to feed them every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer, or you scatter dried blood meal around the base of each plant about once per month.
- If possible, avoid using slow-release fertilizers as this may cause your plants to grow too quickly and become weak or spindly!
There are three main mum-pruning techniques: pinching, cutting back by one-third, and hard shearing.
- Pinching is the best technique for keeping chrysanthemums compact and growing about 1 to 3 feet tall. It’s also a good technique for rejuvenating old, woody plants that have stopped flowering or have gotten overgrown. As much as mums can be pinched anytime, you want to pinch yours in late spring to early summer for best results.
- Cut back garden mums by one-third right after flowers fade and again the following spring before the plant grows. You can also cut all your mums down to 2 inches above the ground and leave them like a carpet of green under taller plants. This process rejuvenates old mum plants and reduces the chance of powdery mildew.
- Hard shearing or cutting back to just above the crown. This forces the garden mum plant to put out new side growth shorter than the original stems, but you get a lot more flowers per plant.
Propagating Garden Mums
Propagation of mums is easiest through division; however, you can also grow them from seed or through cuttings.
- Division: In spring or early fall, dig up the clump carefully to avoid damage. Divide it into smaller mums if needed and replant in fresh soil.
- Cuttings: You can take a cutting from an established mum plant any time during the growing season. Use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut through the stems below a leaf. Put the cuttings in a bucket of tepid water and allow them to soak overnight, changing the water every few hours.
- Seeds: You can either save your seeds or purchase new ones each spring when growing mums from seed. Just that you may know—hybrid plants will not come true from saved seeds.
Pests and Diseases That Impact Chrysanthemums
- Mum plants generally do not attract many pests, but some can occur. Aphids are attracted to new growth on mum plants, where they suck the plant juices. They can be washed off with water or removed by hand.
- Leaf spots affect the plant’s appearance but will not kill it; use an all-purpose fungicide to treat the plant.
- Root and stem rots can affect newly planted mums. Treat with a general-purpose fungicide before planting or by removing and destroying infected plants.
- Common diseases of garden mums include powdery mildew (which causes white, dusty patches on leaves) and botrytis blight (gray mold).
- You may use a fungicide in the case of powdery mildew; however, for botrytis, consider removing and destroying the infected plants or plant parts.
- Note: Insecticides should be used as a last resort for treating pests and diseases on garden mums.
- Because these plants are toxic, you want to keep them away from your cats, dogs, and horses.
The Takeaway: Garden Mums Are So Easy to Grow
Bold and beautiful chrysanthemums will show off rich and vibrant colors in your garden into the fall months. Once you give them a try, you will agree–it really is easy to grow garden mums.