Mums come in a huge array of colors, with yellows and bronzes often favored for their vigor and ability to deliver fresh looks all fall.
Potted mums add easy instant color, and many are grown as perennials. These mums are much more impressive. They mature into stately 2-foot-tall mounds covered with blossoms that return every fall. Plant new garden mums in the ground now, and they will come back for years as robust, hardy perennials.
For years of enjoyment, make sure you buy garden mums instead of florist mums, which are beautiful plants for patios or sun rooms, but often succumb to cold injury when planted outdoors in the fall.
Plant Hardy Mums:
- Choose garden mums that have not yet begun to bloom, and check plant tags for flower form and color. The best choices are small plants in 4-inch containers that are just beginning to show buds or have no buds at all, but any garden mum is worth planting as a perennial in late summer.
- Plant fall-purchased garden mums early — even as early as late August — to help plants develop strong roots. Otherwise they may experience frost heave, and be pushed from soil.
- Garden mums need at least six hours of sun a day, along with fertile, well-drained soil. Dig planting holes twice as deep and wide as the container it came in. Mix in a generous spadeful of compost or packaged garden soil to give your plants an easy start.
- Squeeze the plants from their containers and tease apart a few of the outermost roots on the sides and bottom of the root ball. This slight disturbance triggers the plants to repair the damage by growing new roots.
- Set the plants in the hole slightly higher than they were in the containers.
- Water well.
- Surround the plants with a 2-inch blanket of attractive mulch. Do not let mulch touch the plants’ main stems.
- Trim plants after flowers have faded in late fall, leaving a 10-inch umbrella of stems. Old stems help shelter the plants’ crowns from harsh winter weather and can be clipped off first thing in spring.