Fall Mums: The Guide to Growing and Caring for Chrysanthemums

orange-mums

Chrysanthemums, or mums, are the signature bloom of autumn. Across the country, every October, bright hues of yellow, orange, red, and purple adorn porches next to pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns, line garden landscapes, and serve as cheerful accents for indoor tablescapes. With the right care, mums can wow us with their blooms for up to eight weeks.

All About Chrysanthemums

The name Chrysanthemum is derived from the Greek words chrysos and anthos, which literally translates Gold Flower. It is believed that chrysanthemums originated in China. They were brought to Europe in the 1700’s, then introduced to America where they have been beloved ever since.

There were originally about 40 varieties of chrysanthemums, and now there are thousands of varieties of mums, courtesy of selective breeding.

Chrysanthemum stems can grow anywhere from 2 o 6 inches with impressive flower heads anywhere from 1 to 10 inches!

According to the Japanese decorating technique, feng shui, adding mums bring laughter and happiness to a room. These late season bloomers are lovely additions to any autumn décor or garden beds.

As long as they receive enough water, they can tolerate unseasonably warm temperatures and direct sunlight. They can be planted directly in the ground where they will bloom in a garden for several weeks, or they can be planted in roomy containers and kept on a porch or indoors.

Let’s take a look at how to best care for mums, whether they are blooming in pots or in a flower bed.

purple mums to care for

Florist Mums

Florist mums, or potted mums, are popular house or porch plants this time of year. At best, they bloom just 6 to 8 weeks. Since florist mums are typically grown in greenhouses for indoor use, they do not produce many underground stolons which affect their longevity. Even if these mums are transplanted outside, florist mums will not survive the winter because of their lack of underground stolons.

Florist mums can thrive in plastic or clay containers and even window boxes, as long as they have room for their roots to expand.

Since they do have limited blooming times, it is important to choose the right plant before making a purchase. Be sure to buy mums that have more buds than flowers. This will increase its chances of making it six weeks into the season. 

Never buy mums that look wilted or have leaves that are beginning to yellow or brown, as they will not live more than a few days. Try repotting the mums once they make it to their new homes. Mums that have been kept in small containers will have very crowded root systems. Gently break up the root ball by hand and place them in a larger container with fertilized potting soil.

Mums need lots of sunshine, so they will also require plenty of water to stay hydrated in the heat. Once they are re-planted, give them a good soaking and then water them anytime the soil starts to feel dry.

Garden Mums

Chrysanthemums that are designed to be planted directly into the ground are called Garden Mums. Garden Mums are usually annuals. Before the 1960’s most mums were perennial, but breeding new bright blooms essentially bred out most of its ability to survive the winter.

Still, mums make gorgeous seasonal additions to flower gardens. Plant Garden Mums anytime after late August and at least a few weeks before the first expected frost. Put mums in the ground as soon as they are purchased. Early planting will give the roots time to expand, increasing its longevity as the temperatures begin to cool.

Once garden mums are planted, they need to get water regularly. Consider adding a thick layer of mulch, compost, or pine needles to help insulate the mums’ roots and retain moisture.

Conclusion

Whether in pots or in a garden bed, planting mums is a great way to bring fall beauty to any home. Remember to keep mums where they will get plenty of sunlight and keep them well-hydrated. Don’t get discouraged when they die after a few weeks. They are annuals with a blooming time of just 6 or 8 weeks. 

Just enjoy those blooms while they last and try not to wait too long before adding them to the garden scape!