Many pot of chrysanthemums for sale with a sign that reads "Mums 8.99 or 3/25"
(Image credit: Kristen Prahl)

Chrysanthemums have long been celebrated for their beauty. From large football types to the much more common potted varieties, mums have come to be among one of the most easily recognized symbols of fall. Potted chrysanthemums add an instant burst of color to front yards, flower beds, and porches. Mum plants continue to gain popularity for late season décor, both indoors and out. Learning more about the best time to buy mums can help shoppers purchase plants that are vibrant and healthy.

When to Buy Mums for Fall

Potted chrysanthemum plants usually begin to appear at a wide range of retailers in late summer, enticing shoppers with their brilliant array of blooms. Deciding when to purchase your own chrysanthemum plant will play a role in the duration of blooms and the amount of time in which it can be displayed before the arrival of cold weather. Most gardeners agree that the best time to purchase potted chrysanthemum plants is after the hottest portion of summer has passed. Though day and night-time temperatures will still be warm, plants are much less likely to become stressed by extreme weather.

How to Pick Mums

Choosing the best mums to buy is relatively simple. While some retailers offer a wider selection than others, mums can vary greatly in color and flower form. Most potted plants produce smaller decorative flower forms, but more unique types of mums can also be found. When purchasing chrysanthemum plants, buyers should look for plants with a lush shade of deep green. Often, very light or yellowing leaves may be early signs of disease or other issues involving soil quality.

Chrysanthemums are considered a short-day plant. This means each plant will require a specific period of darkness to initiate bloom. As the days begin to shorten in the fall, this process occurs naturally. Many commercial greenhouses mimic this by the use of artificial light, resulting in an earlier forced bloom.

With proper care, chrysanthemum plants will remain in bloom for up to 8 weeks. To ensure the longest bloom period possible, shoppers should look for plants with a large number of flower buds. Ideally, these flower buds should just be beginning to show their petals. After purchase, the buds will slowly begin to open across the plant, unveiling a grand display of color.

Caring for Potted Mums

Potted chrysanthemum plants are known for their ease of care. Chrysanthemums should be kept in an outdoor location which receives bright light. As mums thrive in the fall, growers can expect their vibrance to last throughout extended periods of cool weather. Routine watering will prevent your plants from wilting and keep them looking their best.

Potted chrysanthemums can also be kept indoors, though they will need to be situated where they’re able to receive ample sunlight. Exposure to uneven light may cause inconsistent growth. This can usually be corrected by rotating the plant every couple days.

Many gardeners treat chrysanthemums as an annual plant, discarding it at the end of the growing season. Some are surprised to find that many varieties behave as perennials. Where hardy, certain cultivars of potted chrysanthemum will return in spring after their period of natural dormancy.

Tonya Barnett

Tonya Barnett has been gardening for 13 years. Flowers are her passion. She has trasformed her backyard into a cut flower garden, which she regularly chronicles on her YouTube channel