Mum’s the Word for Fall and Yes, Spring!

Mums are the quintessential fall flower and boy do they deliver! 

At the garden center we anxiously await our first delivery that greets us like a bathtub full of colorful bubbles as the truck gate opens.

Red, yellow, copper, white, orange, multi’s, daisy, double and carnation petals. No matter what your porch theme, there’s a mum for everyone!

Chrysanthemums are a perennial flower although we tend to treat them as annuals. This might be because when we first buy them, they are a perfect mounded half sphere of color but, if we plant them in the garden, they emerge the following year like a gangly teenager who just rolled out of bed!

If we let them just grow, eventually they split down the middle, fall over and never produce the carpet of blooms that we remember from the fall so, we rip them out of the ground disappointed.

But, with a little care, you can bring back those colorful bubbles year after year and here’s how!

When your mums start to poke their heads out in the spring, it’s time to clean up last year’s debris. Remove any old stems and clear away dead leaves and flowers from the area. When the plant reaches about six inches in height, which should be sometime in May, the plant needs to be trimmed to half its height.

The reason we do this is, if you look at the area where a leaf meets the stem, each junction will grow an additional shoot if the above growth is cut off. So, if a stem has 5 leaves remaining, that’s 5 new shoots that will grow increasing the volume and strength of the plant.

It’s a good idea to cut the plant back two more times before July 4th, each time cutting back half of the growth. You are also shaping the plant when you cut it back, giving it that round shape that we love. 

From July on, the plant can now concentrate on bloom production!

The really cool thing about mums is, they just want to keep going so, after the first set of blooms start to fade in the Fall, trim back the flowers and a brand new set will grow! Don’t forget to fertilize! All of this growth takes work and your mum will appreciate the extra energy boost!

Now that you know how to bring those mums back and looking fabulous, we can’t wait to see pictures of your fall gardens!