Most of us think of mums as a fall flower to put in a pot by the front door to welcome in the cooler weather, and they certainly pair well with pumpkins as a fall decoration. When grown in a container, mums do not need additional fertilizer. Regular watering is a must, as wilting shortens the life of the flowers. Be sure to soak the soil thoroughly, and do not let water stand in a saucer beneath the pot. Water the soil, not the plant, as water on the flowers will cause them to turn brown. Daily soaking is often required.
Mums may also be planted in the ground in Central Texas. Bloom time is extended when they are planted in the ground vs. grown in a pot. Expect at least 3-4 weeks of bloom, after which the tops will start to turn brown and new growth will form at the base. Cut back the tall stems from the fall blooms as the new green leaves start to form at the base of the plant. Mums are totally winter hardy here, and will form an evergreen “winter mat”, and spread nicely in the colder months.
Mums planted in the ground while in bloom should be watered by hand- avoid wetting the flowers as much as possible, as this will shorten the life of the flower. Choose a well-drained location in the garden, as mums do not like “wet feet”. You may also plant your containerized mum after it has finished blooming into the garden, making sure to water for several weeks until well established. Plant them at the same depth that they were in the container, and leave room for them to spread up to 36”!
Begin fertilizing your mums in the spring, after new growth starts, with Fox Farm Fruit and Flower Organic Fertilizer. Many varieties will bloom in the spring as well as in the fall. Plants should be “pinched” monthly in the spring and early summer to encourage branching, with the last “pinch” no later than August 15. After that, the buds will be forming for the fall bloom, and additional pruning will eliminate blooms for fall. Mums may be divided every few years, with the division time taking place the season opposite their bloom time. Since mums are fall bloomers, early spring is a good time to divide. Divided mums may be shared with friends or planted in other areas of the yard.
Now that you know your garden mums will perform as well as other perennials, I hope you can find a place in your garden to enjoy their seasonal splendor!