Image by Aaron Gustafson
By Becca Badgett
(Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden)
Chrysanthemum flowers are a classic addition to brighten the autumn garden. Growing mums is not complicated once you learn the basics of chrysanthemum care. Where you live, however, will somewhat determine how to grow chrysanthemums.
How to Grow Chrysanthemums in the Garden
Growing mums successfully in the garden first depends on choosing the right chrysanthemum flowers. Attractive florist mums are sold widely, but are not suitable for growing in the garden as they have a limited root system. Caring for potted mums is another worthwhile endeavor for the gardener should this be the case.
The right chrysanthemum flowers for your garden will come from a diverse selection of hardy or garden mums. When growing mums, you’ll find plants that are dwarf to giant, in colors from white and yellow to the deepest burgundy and purple. Some cultivars bloom in late summer, while others bloom as late as October.
Plant your hardy chrysanthemums in spring in northern areas, as they are more likely to survive the winter once established. In southern areas, mums may be planted in either spring or autumn, though fall offers the greatest benefit of avoiding summer heat.
In all areas, chrysanthemum flowers should be planted in well-draining soil. When learning how to grow chrysanthemums, you’ll find they’re adaptable to soil types, but do best in organic soils.
Mums also prefer a sunny spot in the landscape. Chrysanthemums will grow in partial shade, but may get leggy when reaching for sunlight. Shade grown plants will have weaker stems and exhibit less flowering.
After following these growing suggestions, you’ll want to practice the most important technique of how to care for mums: pinching. When growing mums, this simple practice ensures the most abundant show of late summer and autumn blooms.
Begin pinching back growing mums when new growth is 4 to 6 inches, removing the stem above the second set of leaves. This directs the growth downward and ensures your chrysanthemum flowers don’t bloom too early. Continue pinching new growth on all shoots through June. This plant material may also be rooted as cuttings for additional mums for the garden. Some of the newer chrysanthemum cultivars do not need pinching, but most benefit from the practice.
Other tips on how to care for mums include fertilizing in spring with a time release fertilizer and planting them far enough apart that the plants get good air circulation. Also plant mums where they are somewhat protected from windy conditions, as in a bed sheltered by a building. A heavy layer of fall mulch is appropriate chrysanthemum care in areas that experience winter freezing.