Fall mums are a beautiful addition to any porch or patio to help bring in the fresh crisp cooler season. Mums require little care, and if simply used as seasonal decoration will require nothing other than regular watering. When grown here on our farm we fertilize them well to make sure they grow lush and full and have tons of beautiful flower buds. Once you take them home the hard work is done and watering them is really all the care they will need. If used only for fall decor it won’t matter whether they are in sun or shade. If placed in a fair bit of shade, the blooms will likely last a little longer. In warmer weather mums require quite a lot of water. If they dry out, the blooms will go past very quickly and will not recover. Mums bloom only once per year for approximately 2-4 weeks - this is important to remember if you are purchasing them with a special event in mind.
Fall mums can also be planted and used as a perennial in our growing zone (5b). When planting them in the ground, pick a full sun location. For best results in getting them to winter over, we recommend planting by the middle of September. This gives enough time for the roots to grow and get established in the ground before it freezes. Providing some extra mulch around the base will also be helpful for the first winter. Make sure to give the mums a good drink after planting them and water regularly until they are past flowering. Do not trim back mums in the fall as the foliage - even when it’s past - will help to protect the root ball from the cold temperatures.
In the spring, cut back any dead mum branches that are still attached to the root base. It will most likely not show any signs of life at all before the end of May - they are a bit slower to start the season. As the mum starts to grow you will need to pinch the green growth to encourage it to branch out. Once it is approximately 6” tall, cut it back to approximately 3” tall. It will take a few weeks to branch out and grow. Once the plant grows to 9”, cut it back to approximately 6”. Do not cut it back after the 10th of July or it may delay flowering in the fall. For best results fertilize with an all purpose fertilizer (20-20-20) from the start of the growing season until Mid-August. Mums require lots of fertilizer, so don’t be afraid to fertilize them slightly more often than recommended on the fertilizer directions. Different varieties of mums will naturally flower at different times. Light pollution can also delay the set of blooms - however once the days are short enough they will produce a beautiful display of colour. Mums will tolerate a light frost and typically are done blooming before it is any concern.