Mums are popular in autumn but should be planted in spring for best results. Here are ways to overwinter mums so they will regrow in spring.
Mums come in a variety of lovely fall colors like burgundy, gold, bronze, purple, crimson and white and look great in the garden when everything has died back. They are relatively hardy and will withstand a light frost making them the perfect garden flower for autumn. Mums are perennial, but there is a slight problem since there is a 50/50 chance they will regrow in spring when planting them in fall.
Chrysanthemums take little care and are very easy to grow. They should become bushier every year and bloom with a profusion of color under the right conditions. Mums need a sunny place in the garden that is well drained with rich soil amended with peat and compost.
Mums are readily available during the fall, but planting them in the ground at this time does not give enough time for the roots to grow deep into the ground until the winter weather begins. Mums planted in the fall often do not survive the winter, especially a very cold winter. The best time to plant mums are in the spring after all danger of frost is over. However, it is hard to find mums to buy in the springtime. It is a dilemma that can be remedied with just a little bit of extra care.
For those regions with mild winters, mums can be planted in the ground during autumn, but no later than mid-October. The earlier the plant is sunk into the ground during autumn months, the better chance it will have to survive.
Mulch the roots of the plants well and right before temperatures stay near the 30-degree mark at night, cover the plants with pine bows. This will give the plants more insulation and protect the roots from totally freezing. Even then, the recovery rate for mums planted in fall may be about 50 percent.
Keep mums in pots in areas that have severe winters. It is not wise to plant them outside until spring and the only chance they have is to be overwintered on a covered, protected back porch, unheated basement with windows or garage with a window.
Keep the pots barely moist through the winter and bring them back out in the spring. Place them in a shady spot at first, then gradually bring the pots out into the sun and give them water. Always bring them back into a sheltered place until temperatures stay above 60 degrees at night. Soon the plants should put forth leaves.
Plant in the garden once no frost is expected and the mums should grow well enough through this next year to be save over the next winter.
Never fertilize mums in the fall, but wait until late spring. Fertilization signals to the plant that it is time to grow and that is never the case in autumn.
The only big problem with planting mums in the spring is that they want to bloom mid-summer instead of in the fall when most people want them to bloom. There is a way to prevent blooming until at least early September. Once the bushes start to bud, just snip the buds off to prevent them from developing and blooming.
Stop pinching back the buds by August first to ensure there will be flowers. Pinch any later and the chrysanthemums will be flowerless that year.
With just a little care, mums can be the showpiece of the garden in autumn. Those that have a green thumb and mild winters may be successful at planting in the fall, but it is much safer to overwinter the plants in pots and give them their permanent home in spring.