Taking Care of Potted Mums
A pot of blooming chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum spp.) adds indoor or outdoor color, depending on your location and the season. Most chrysanthemums, or mums, bloom naturally in spring, although florists sometimes sell varieties forced to grow at other times of the year. Proper care keeps mums blooming longer and can allow them to survive in their pot for many years. Most mums are hardy outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9, although some tender varieties can’t survive outdoors in regions that experience frost.
Set potted mums indoors near a window that receives bright, indirect sunlight all day, or place them outdoors where they can receive five hours of morning sunlight and afternoon shade. Maintain their daytime temperatures near 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoid exposing them to high heat and frost.
Check the mums’ soil moisture daily, and water the mums when the top 1 inch of soil begins to dry. Water the soil surface using a watering can until moisture begins to drain from the bottom of the pot. Empty the water collected in the pot’s drip tray after each irrigation.
Cut off the mums’ flowers after they wilt. Doing so encourages further blooming and keeps the plants clean. Cut back the foliage after it dies naturally in fall.
Leave the potted mums outdoors in winter if the temperature rarely drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or overwinter the potted plants indoors by a window that receives indirect sunlight. Water the mums’ soil only enough so it doesn’t dry entirely.
Fertilize the mums in spring when their new growth appears. Water the plants with a soluble, balanced fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10 blend, once each month. Dilute the fertilizer in the water at the fertilizer label’s recommended rate. Continue to fertilizer the plants monthly until midsummer when their flower buds begin to show their color.
Remove the tips of new stems when those stems are 5 inches long. Continue to pinch them back to a 5-inch height as necessary from spring through midsummer to late summer. Pinching them back encourages bushy growth and more flower bud formation. It also helps to delay flowering until fall.
Taking Care of Potted Mums. A pot of blooming chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum spp.) adds indoor or outdoor color, depending on your location and the season. Most chrysanthemums, or mums, bloom naturally in spring, although florists sometimes sell varieties forced to grow at other times of the year. Proper care keeps …
How to Avoid Killing Your Mums
The Spruce / Adrienne Legault
Come September in the U.S., mums are as ubiquitous as pumpkins during fall harvest. You can find them everywhere and anywhere, from nurseries to supermarkets to gas stations. However, once you get them home, mums are incredibly easy to kill. They dry out in a nanosecond—or so it seems—and after any repeated periods of stress from drying out, they often just die. However, you can keep these beautiful flowers alive with a little tender loving care.
Choose a Strong Plant
Choosing the right plant is key to having it thrive. A plant that has repeatedly dried out will be stressed and more likely to die when you get it home. If you buy a mum at a supermarket or big box store, be particularly careful, because they often are underwatered. Ask the store what day they get their new shipments and try to buy a plant on the day they get there before they have had too many chances to be neglected. Look for plants with leaves that are deep green and healthy, not droopy. Find plants that have lots of buds and not too many blooms.
While some people try to overwinter their mums, it is difficult to pull off successfully (unless you get a hardy mum). In most cases, it is best to treat it as an annual and pitch the flowers onto the compost pile after they die off with the first frost.
Repot Upon Purchase
The single most important thing you can do to increase the longevity of your mums is to repot the flowers as soon as you get them. Most mums are completely rootbound, meaning the roots have taken up the entire pot, making it hard for the soil to retain water. Preserve your plant by providing it with fresh potting soil and a new container that is a little bigger than the pot your mums came in. To repot the mums:
- Fill the bottom of the new pot with high-quality potting soil.
- Carefully remove the mum from its nursery pot. Break up any roots you can, or simply rough them up by rubbing them.
- Put the plant in the new pot, making sure the surface of the soil rests at least an inch below the lip of the new pot. Make sure there is room for water to trickle down into the soil, instead of running off the sides and out of the pot.
- Fill in the space around the plant’s root ball with the potting soil; you want soil, not air surrounding the roots. Tamp down the soil gently.
- Give the pot a good watering until it flows out of the bottom of the pot. You may need to add more soil after watering the first time.
Give Mums Lots of Sun
Mums are sun-lovers, so make sure your pot gets a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight a day. Fall days are shorter than in the summer and the sun has changed positions, so you may find that the places with the most sun have changed. Where you once had full, unobstructed sun, a tree or building may now be blocking the light. Observe how long the sun is hitting your pot each day—you might be surprised.
Water (But Not Too Much)
Mums do not like soil to get dry. When the leaves are drooping—which can happen incredibly quickly—they need to be watered. Try to water them before they get to that point. If you have not repotted your mum, there are two ways to tell if it is dry:
- Stick your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle to see if it feels dry. Sometimes, however, this is not possible because the plant is rootbound and the soil is hard.
- Pick up the pot. If it is light, it likely needs to be watered.
Usually, you water a plant until the water pours out the bottom; however, with a potbound mum, it is possible that the water will go around the roots, down the sides of the pot, and out the bottom without the plant getting much water. When the plant dries out, the soil contracts, and the same thing can happen, leaving spaces along the sides of the pot for water to flow out without touching the soil.
Rehydrate the dry soil by placing the mum pot in a bucket containing a few inches of water and leave it to soak for a few hours. However, don’t forget about it, as the plant can drown. You can also fully submerge the pot in a bucket of water to rehydrate the soil. Stick a skewer or a pencil in the soil at the top to make sure the water soaks in.
Deadhead the Mums
Deadheading, or removing dying flowers, is one of those tedious garden chores that needs to be done regularly. However, deadheading mums are worth the trouble. The plants benefit greatly from it and look much better when finished. If you keep up with deadheading, chances are the mums will last longer and may repeat bloom.
Mums dry out in a second and need to be watered at least once a day. After the repeated stress of drying out, they often die. Learn how to care for yours.