Have you ever tried planting mums in the ground?
I know I have said before that I LOVE fall. One of my favorite things about fall (other than the flavors, smells, football and list of other things!) is the colors. When I think about fall colors and fall decorating, I think about mums! Chrysanthemums are a great way to add gorgeous color around your home all year long! Caring for mums couldn’t be easier.
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What are mums?
Chrysanthemums, or mums, are a popular plant in both the spring and fall. Fall mums are the most well known, but they can bloom from the spring to the fall, depending on the variety. There are two main types of mums- florist type and hardy mums. How you go about caring for mums is going to depend on the type that you have.
If you are interested in growing chrysanthemums for show or professionally, the National Chrysanthemum Society has all sorts of information on their website. If you are interested in just growing mums at home, keep reading below.
Florist Type Chrysanthemums
Florist mums are usually sold in the spring in containers. They are usually given growth hormones to maintain their smaller size. These varieties are better suited to growing in pots.
Florist mums have shallow roots and therefore aren’t well suited to grow outside as perennials. Some varieties of florist mums can grow in warmer zones. USDA Plant Hardiness zones 7-9 are better climates for growing florist type mums as perennials. They just can’t handle the colder soil temperatures.
Florist mums are often grown in greenhouses and are treated with growth hormones to prevent them from growing large. The hormones help to keep the plant smaller and compact.
If you want to read more about how to take care of your potted mums, check out HomeGuide’s article, Taking Care of Potted Mums.
Hardy Type Chrysanthemums
These are the ones you’re looking for if you’re thinking about planting mums in the ground!
Hardy mums are available to purchase in the fall. Chrysanthemums that are hardy offer a wider variety of flower colors and bloom forms than the florist mums.
Hardy mums are excellent for planting as perennials. These mums produce underground stolons that make them better suited to surviving colder winters. They are able to grow well in USDA zones 4-9.
To read more about planting potted mums outside, read the HomeGuides article Can I Plant My Potted Mums Outside?
Planting Mums in the Ground
Planting mums in the ground in your landscape as perennials is very easy! There are a few things that you need to do, but they are easily transplanted into your landscape.
If you are interested in planting more plants that will come back year after year, think about planting more native plants in your landscape.
Most mum varieties are hardy outdoors in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9. Mums thrive when the daytime temperatures are around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s when you usually see them blooming like crazy!
Planting Mums in the Ground- Location
If you are planting mums in the ground, you need to consider the location. This is especially true if you are planting a florist type mum.
Florist mums are tender and will require some type of frost protection. You can plant them close to your house in beds so the eaves of your house protect them from the frost.
While florist mums need frost protection, they (just like hardy mums) will need at least 6 hours of sunlight. If they do not have enough sunlight, your mums will start to look “leggy”. They will reach for sunlight and grow spindly rather than thick and compact.
Mums also do best in well-drained soil. Amend and work the soil if needed before transplanting your mums into the ground.
Planting Mums in the Ground- Transplanting Them
The spring is the ideal time to transplant mums into the ground. This gives them time to become established and survive the winters.
If you don’t purchase your mums until the fall, don’t fret. You may still be able to transplant them.
If you purchase mums in the fall and you plan on transplanting them, go ahead and get them in the ground as soon as possible. Make sure that the mums are hardened off before planting them in the ground.
To harden off your chrysanthemums, slowly expose them to increased amount of direct sunlight over 2-3 days. Once they are in at least 6 hours of full sun, they can be planted.
Keep in mind when you are digging the hole for the plant that the roots need to be buried about one inch deeper than they were in the pot.
When planting mums together in a bed, make sure to give each mum about 18 square inches per plant. Space them out adequately so that they aren’t ever competing for sunlight.
Planting Mums in the Ground- Fertilizing and Watering
Mums that have been transplanted into the ground need fertilizer that has a high phosphorus content.
Phosphorus helps to encourage root growth and development. This is a must if you are planting mums in the ground in the fall.
Plants that are in the ground in the spring need to be fertilized monthly during the spring and summer. A 10-10-10 fertilizer will work well. This can be used on the plants all spring and through the summer until blooms start to appear.
Mums are fairly resistant to pests and disease.
Watering improperly, however, can lead to disease development. When watering mums, avoid watering the foliage or blooms. The plants are so compact that the water doesn’t evaporate well and can lead to disease formation.
For more information about preparing for plant disease and pests, read my post on preparing for plant illnesses.
Water chrysanthemums are the ground, not above the plant. A soaker hose is an excellent way to water mums, especially if there are several plants together in a bed.
Mums require about one inch of water a week. If the mums look droopy, water them. Don’t let the mums wilt. Check the top of the soil every day. If the top inch of the soil is dry, they need to be watered.
Check out my post about feeding your plants properly if you are interested in making sure your plants are happy and healthy.
If you are interested in reading more about getting your chrysanthemums ready for winter, check out Garden Know How’s article More Tips for Winterizing Mums.
Maintaining Mums in Your Landscape
If you decide to plant your chrysanthemums in the ground, you’ll need to know how to “groom” them so that they look their best in the fall.
In the spring, prune any old stems off of the plant. You also need to start pinching the plants back in the spring.
Pinching mums removes the tips of new stems. This causes the plant to create more compact, bushy growth. It also encourages more blooms to develops. Lastly, pinching mums delays the blooming process to the fall.
If your mums aren’t pinched, they will still bloom, they just won’t be as full as they could be when they start to bloom.
How to Pinch Chrysanthemums
Starting in the spring, when you see a flush of buds on the plant, it’s time to pinch them.
You can pinch as much as half of the tender growth at the top of the shoot. Make sure that you pinch about half of the shoots with buds and about half of the shoots without buds.
Some people only pinch the top 3-5 inches from the new shoots. Either way, pinching the plants will ensure are fuller plant in the fall.
Pinching chrysanthemums is not a one time ordeal. Make sure that you repeat the process every 2-4 weeks to ensure the plant stays bushy through the summer. Your last pinching should be around the beginning of July.
This gives the plant time to fully bud out before the fall.
Taking Care of the Flowering Chrysanthemum
When the mums are actively blooming, dead head the plant. This means you should trim off any dead or wilted flowers.
This will encourage the plant to create more blooms.
Divide the planted mums every 2-3 years. You can divide them in the spring after the last frost has passed and some new growth has started.
To divide your mums, dig up the entire plant in one piece. Separate the outer shoots from the center of the plant. Discard the center of the mum and replant the outer portions of the mum. You can use a sharp spade or knife to separate the mum.
Amend the soil and add organic material to the soil when you replant the mum.
Popular Chrysanthemum Varieties
The varieties of chrysanthemums that are available to gardeners is nearly endless. There are mums that will please even the gardeners that dislike the typical fall hardy mums.
There are two types of florist chrysanthemums- incurve and reflex.
Incurve mums have petals that curve upward and in towards the center of the flower.
Reflex mums have petals that curve out and away from the center of the flower.
Most florist mums have long, tightly overlapping petals. Some of the varieties are easily mistaken for daisies.
Best Varieties for Planting Mums in the Ground
There are numerous varieties and colors of mums available. You can easily find some of these in late summer at garden centers.
Other varieties may require a little bit more searching but those are often well-worth it. Hit up your local nursery if you need help finding a certain variety.
Pom-Pom or Button Mums (an easy-to-find variety for planting mums in the ground)
These mums are gorgeous flowers that have petal packed blooms.
Single and Semi-double (a favorite for planting mums in the ground)
These are often confused as daisies.
They can grow up to 1-3 feet tall. These mums would work well in the back of a flower bed, tucked up beside a structure or fence.
They would create a pop of color and add height to your flower bed.
This mum cultivar has small blooms that are about 4 inches in diameter. The petals are shaped like spoons, hence the name.
These gorgeous mums are very showy and ornamental in appearance.
The petals have an almost appendage-like appearance, making the blooms look like spiders.
Anemone mums have large blooms that are 4 inches in diameter. The petals are long and flat.
For more information about varieties of mums, Better Homes and Gardens has a wonderful post about Mum Varieties.
Planting Mums in the Ground
It’s hard to go wrong with chrysanthemums if you are trying to add color to your landscaping in the fall.
Potted mums also add a wonderful pop of color to your outdoor living spaces. You’ll be rewarded with wonderful color and gorgeous blooms with the proper location, watering, fertilization and maintenance.
There are so many types of chrysanthemums, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. First determine if you want mums in pots or in the ground. Florist type mums are great if you want to keep potted mums.
Hardy mum varieties are best suited for planting mums in the ground.
Think about what color or type of look you want to create.
If you want to add color to a fall flowerbed, choose pom pom or button mums that will create lots of eye catching color. If you want to add an exotic feel to your flowerbeds, choose a spider or quilled mum to create an exotic effect.
Once you plant your mums, they are pretty easy to take care of. They are disease and pest-resistant, and pretty tolerable to growing outdoors. Keep them happy and they will keep your yard colorful!
Do you have chrysanthemums planted in your yard? How do you take care of them? What cultivars do you have? I’d love to know!