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Get Chrysanthemums Ready for Fall

Updated on March 29, 2013
For many, blooming chrysanthemums are a beautiful symbol of autumn.
For many, blooming chrysanthemums are a beautiful symbol of autumn. | Source

Mum's the word for pretty autumn color.

Nothing says, "Autumn's here!" quite like hardy chrysanthemums. Matched with pumpkins and gourds, they make a lovely garden display throughout the fall—and especially at Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Even if you're not an avid gardener, as autumn approaches, you may find yourself adding pots of mums to your shopping cart. They're hard to resist!

But once you bring them home, what should you do next?


Growing Hardy Mums Outside

Mailbox Gardens, Flowerbeds & Borders

If you choose to grow your hardy mums outside, plant them as soon as you bring them home. The key to establishing mums in your landscape is to buy small plants and get them in the ground early. Spring is the best time to plant mums, allowing them plenty of time to put down strong roots before winter.

You can, however, successfully overwinter hardy mums if you plant them in summer or fall, particularly if the area where you live experiences relatively mild winters.

Once you do plant your mums, be sure to keep them well watered.

Before winter sets in, mulch chrysanthemums to help them survive the impending cold.


Pinch off buds for fall flowers.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
See the tiny flowerheads?Pinch them off!Don't worry! They'll grow back.
See the tiny flowerheads?
See the tiny flowerheads? | Source
Pinch them off!
Pinch them off! | Source
Don't worry! They'll grow back.
Don't worry! They'll grow back. | Source

Getting Mums to Flower in Fall

When to Pinch

Once your mums are established, pinch or snip off their buds so that they'll bloom at the "right" time—fall. Some gardeners say to pinch back mums until the middle of June, around Father's Day, while others advocate pinching through the 4th of July.

How to Pinch Back Mums

Either with hand pruners, shears or your fingernails, snip off the very tips of the mums where the tiny flowerheads are forming. (See pictures right.) Don't worry! They'll develop more buds, and you'll have blooming chrysanthemums by autumn, just when you want them.

If you don't pinch back your mums, you could have blossoms as early as June!

Port 68 Caroline Cachepot Oval with Stand
Port 68 Caroline Cachepot Oval with Stand
Cover up that ugly plastic pot by placing it in a cachepot. This one has a crackled glaze over an orange design and a wooden base, making it an ideal for a rust-colored or lemon yellow mum.

Caring for Potted Mums

Temporary houseplants

You may opt to use potted mums as fall color in your house. If so, treat them as temporary houseplants, discarding them once their blooms are spent. Overwintering chrysanthemums in pots is extremely difficult, and if they do survive, they won't look good during the process.

Mixed outdoor containers

If you create mixed outdoor containers for fall, chrysanthemums make pretty thrillers. Match them with trailing verbena, flowering cabbage or kale, or autumn ferns.

When the season ends, treat them as you would a temporary houseplant and discard them. Or, if you're feeling lucky, transplant them into your flowerbed before winter sets in.

Don't waste your cuttings--start new mums!


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