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How to Grow Beautiful Fall Mums

Fall mums add beautiful color to your porch or landscape when the rest of the garden is fading. Learn how to care for these autumn blooms!

how to grow beautiful fall mums

When the trees start to change color, the rest of the garden tends to fade away for the winter. But not fall mums! Chrysanthemums are the perfect way to add beautiful color to your porch or landscape.

While these easy-to-grow flowers aren’t fussy and only require basic care, there are a few extra steps you can take to make your mums the best on the block.

assortment of fall mums

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Choosing the Right Mums

Those balls of bright color can be quite tempting, but wait! Growers force the plants to bloom early so they'll be full of vibrant color at the time of delivery, but that limits the amount of time you have to enjoy them.

Instead, look for the ones that have mostly closed buds. This will ensure that you have the longest bloom time at home, rather than at the store!

closed buds on white mum plant

You can also order your plants directly from the grower. These are usually shipped when the blooms are still tight, so they'll open like magic when you put them in your garden!

Re-Pot Your Mums

Resist the urge to just drop your store-bought mums into a pretty planter and call it good! Most mums you purchase at your local garden center are root bound, which means their roots have grown to take up the entire pot. This will stunt further growth and make the plant generally unhappy.

root bound mum in nursery pot

The best way to remedy this problem is to transplant your newly purchased mums into a larger pot. Fill the bottom of your container with good quality potting soil. Then, remove your new mum from its store-bought pot and carefully break up the roots with a gardening fork before planting it.

Do Mums Come Back Every Year?

Most people treat mums as an annual, but some types are considered a perennial plant that comes back year after year! Look for tags that say "hardy mum" or "garden mum" for the right variety.

various colors of mums growing in a garden landscape

For the best results, especially if you live in a colder climate, plant them at the beginning of the fall season. This gives them time to adapt to their new environment and put down roots before the first frost.

Plant your mums in a bed with good drainage and full sun. If they don’t receive the proper amount of sun, the stems will grow tall and leggy with very few flowers. Good drainage will ensure that ice doesn't form around the roots during the winter months.

After the foliage has died off from a hard frost, cut the plant down to a few inches above the ground. Then cover the stem and the surrounding area with a heavy layer of mulch to provide insulation for the roots and crown.

How Often Should I Water Mums?

Mums are shallow rooted, so make sure they don't have to reach far for their next drink of water. Never let your mums wilt or dry out because they may not rebound after drooping. Established plants need about one inch of water per week to maintain their blooms.

You can also set your potted mum in a tray with a few inches of water to allow the roots to absorb the water from the bottom up.

Combat Insects and Diseases

The most common issues gardeners face when caring for mums are aphids and spider mites. Keep your flower beds clear of debris and weeds and surround the plants with mulch to avoid a bug infestation. If your flowers do become affected by insects, use an insecticide suitable for mums.

Powdery mildew can also be an issue in mums grown in humid climates. To avoid mildew, water your plants at the roots, not on the flowers. Removing dead or mildewed flowers immediately can also help in preventing a more widespread outbreak.

powdery mildew on mum plant

Pinch the Buds

If the plants you purchased from the store already feature a large, full dome of blooms, the pinching process is probably already done. But if the mums you planted last year are just starting to bloom or your plants are small or new, start pinching the plant as soon as you see buds.

Pinching is a simple way to lightly prune your plant, creating a more compact mum with fuller flowers. As soon as the flowers start to show, pinch off about half the new growth at the top of the shoot. Keep pinching every two to four weeks throughout the summer months.

Pinch off dead growth throughout the fall to ensure your plant stays beautiful. Take a few minutes every few days to cut off dead flowers and leaves to make your plant look cleaner, prevent disease, and make room for new buds.

Decorating for Fall with Mums

Pumpkins and mums go together like peanut butter and jelly! You could go with the traditional orange, red and yellow...

red, orange and yellow mums with orange pumpkins

Or try the monotone look with white mums and pumpkins!

white mums with white pumpkins on white chair
Beautiful white pumpkins and mums sitting on an old vintage chair on a porch in the autumn.

How will you decorate with mums this fall? Let me know in the comments below!