As the end of Summer nears, garden centers begin rolling out their potted chrysanthemums aka potted garden mums.
It’s a delight to see, actually. Those beautiful mounds of rich color and generous blooms is enough to make you want to take home their entire mum inventory!
Fall is my favorite time of year to visit the local garden center because Fall-blooming perennials and flowers are some of the most colorful plants you’ll see all year. Mums are no-exception.
And for many people, Chrysanthemums symbolize the arrival of long-awaited Fall weather and Fall goodies like pumpkin lattes and pumpkin pie.
These flowers are low-maintenance but keeping them looking vibrant throughout the season does take a little bit of effort.
I’ve learned a few tips about caring for chrysanthemums that I’m eager to share because I want you to get the most out of your investment. After all, no one likes wasting money on plants that die shortly after coming home!
Potted Mums Are Perennials but are Typically Grown as Annuals
Whether they’re bright yellow, deep purple, magenta, or orange, hardy Chrysanthemums are some of the most beautiful perennials you can grow.
Most people know them as annuals because they throw them out at the end of the blooming season but they’re actually meant to live as perennials, especially in warmer zones.
This is great news for your wallet – you can buy potted mums this year and they’ll come back for a few years as long as properly cared for.
The mounding shape they take and their prolific blooming is what makes mums so special and beloved.
They make beautiful floral arrangements and look stunning as front porch decor alongside pumpkins and Fall wreaths.
Integrate chrysanthemums into your Fall decor and you’ll instantly give off Autumnal vibes just by placing them near your welcome mat!
Toss in a few pumpkins and small haystacks and these perennials will make you look like a seasoned decorator come Fall.
When do Garden Mums Bloom
You can buy potted mums at garden centers around mid-August and they bloom throughout the Fall, as long as they get what they need.
Grow them alongside other Fall-blooming perennials, such as Purple Dome Asters, Marigolds, and Purple Coneflowers, for a beautiful flower bed that’ll last until the first frost in many hardiness zones.
However, if you’re at your local garden center in late Summer or early Fall and you see potted mums that send your heart a flutter, I’d recommend that you to hold off until the weather cools.
Although known as a drought-tolerant plant, mums don’t always do well in the summer heat, even when kept on the porch.
You’re better off buying your mums in late September or early October when the weather is cooler. This gives them a better chance of survival. Remember that many regions still experience hot temperatures throughout the month if September, which is not ideal for healthy mums.
Trust me-I learned this lesson the hard way!
You can also grow mums from seed, but you’ll need to start them early if you want blooms during the Summer and Fall seasons.
Start seeds weeks before your zones first frost date, or sow them directly into the ground after danger of frost clears.
For a step-by-step guide on starting seeds indoors, visit this post.
How to Choose Chrysanthemums at the Garden Center
I know it’s tempting to want to take home potted mums that’s are full of blooming flowers, but I advise against it. As the saying goes, you want the blooms in your home, not the garden center!
Aim to choose pots with plenty of closed buds. The buds are getting ready to bloom which means you’ll get to enjoy their blooms in your garden in a few short days or weeks.
See the buds on this chrysanthemum? This is shortly after I brought it home from the garden center. As long as it gets enough sun and water, this mum will begin to bloom soon.
If you buy potted mums that are in full bloom, you’ll enjoy them in your garden for a shorter period of time. Stick to mums that have just a few blooms and plenty of buds.
How to Plant Potted Chrysanthemums
Once you bring home your potted mums, you’ll need to choose the perfect planting spot for them.
Mums need about 6 hours of sun a day, so try to plant them in an area that isn’t obstructed by shade in the afternoon.
Chrysanthemums aren’t particular about soils and can actually thrive in most soils, as long as it is well-drained. Areas that are prone to puddles during rainfall shouldn’t be considered for your mums.
If you’re planting them in pots, your front porch or front door area is another ideal spot, as long as it gets access to sunlight during the day. Just remember to opt for pots with drainage holes!
Also opt for potted mums that are already blooming, because they may not get enough sunlight on your porch to encourage buds to bloom. These open mums will last for 2- 3 weeks.
How to Water Chrysanthemums
Chrysanthemums enjoy moist, well-drained soil. Water every day, since mums take quite a lot of water.
As the temperature cools, I will water less often. I recommend that you keep a close eye on your potted mums. If they appear to be wilting from dehydration, you should water more often.
Here’s a tip I can’t stress enough because it affects the health of your plant: water the soil, NOT the foliage.
Mums are susceptible to diseases like powdery mildew, so keep the leaves dry by pointing your watering can or hose directly over the soil. Drench the soil when you water, not the actual plant.
If growing mums in containers, make sure that your pot has a drainage hole because this will ensure better drainage, something this plant appreciates.
Water thoroughly and your plant will reward you with healthy foliage!
How to Deadhead Mums
Mums love to be deadheaded. Cutting off their spent blooms actually encourages the plant to rebloom.
Once you see brown, dead blooms on your plant, take your pruning shears and snip off the bloom where it meets the stem.
Doing this will help the plant direct it’s energy into the new buds instead of trying to keep the dead bloom alive.
This is an easy process and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
How to Winterize Mums
Most people toss their potted mums before Winter when they’ve stopped blooming. Since mums that are purchased in the Fall are intended to provide a big show that year, it can be a little trickier to winterize them If they don’t yet have a strong enough root system.
Hardy mums can be winterized, however, so that they plop back up in the Spring, particularly in warmer zones. This is more successful when done with hardy mums that were bought in the Spring because they’ll have stronger roots systems.
To winterize mums, you’ll need to protect them from winter weather by providing adequate insulation.
First, let your mums die back naturally. This will happen gradually in late Fall/early Winter after bloom. Once the leaves (foliage) have turned brown and died back, take your pruners and chop the stems down to about 3 inches above ground level.
Leaving a few inches of the stem will give the plant a great start at growing again after Winter clears. Once you receive your first frost, place a layer of mulch above the plant to protect the root system.
They’ll start regrowth the Spring and then rebloom in the Fall.