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Garden Guide: How to take care of Chrysanthemums

Alex Calamia shares a few tips that will keep mums colorful all season long and even come back year after year.

Alex Calamia

Oct 4, 2023, 10:35 AM

Updated 285 days ago


Chrysanthemums, known as “mums” for short, are a beautiful way to add color to an autumn patio garden. Pollinators love these flowers, and mums stay colorful even when the weather gets frosty. These popular plants are low maintenance, but they are not problem-free. Here are a few helpful tips to keep them looking great.

How to Prevent Wilting

Wilted mums are one of the biggest issues with mums - and it can happen quickly. The problem is almost always a lack of water. The days may be cooler, but they’re also breezier and the air is often drier. Most gardeners are used to buying small annual flowers in the spring. These seedlings have big roots relative to the size of the plant which makes them more forgiving if they briefly dry out. Mums are sold when they are fully mature and are usually very rootbound. There is not enough soil to retain water, so it is very easy for these plants to totally dry out. To combat this, some gardeners will let their new mum plants sit in a bucket of water for an hour to make sure they have a nice drink before they’re planted. Planting them in a bigger pot with plenty of soil will help keep these plants hydrated longer.

How to Choose the Best Plant

Select full, symmetrical plants with plenty of unopened buds. Unopened flower buds will bloom much later into the season than a chrysanthemum already in full bloom. Gardeners who are looking to display chrysanthemums for just a short period of time can cluster these plants closely together in their planting arrangements. They won’t grow any more for the rest of the season.

How to save Mums for next year

Chrysanthemums are technically perennials, which means they will come back for their roots year after year. Most of the time these plants don’t come back.
Gardeners do not have luck with mums returning because they are planted so late in the year. Ideally, these bushes should be planted in the spring, but they may return if they are planted in early Autumn. These plants need at least a few weeks before the weather gets cold for their roots to settle in before wintertime.
Mums are also less likely to return if they are planted in containers. The ground is warmer than garden containers, which keeps the roots from freezing during the worst of winter. Mums grown in the ground are also less likely to suffer stress from lack of water and from the occasional warm spells during the cooler months. 

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