Winterizing Your Mums
Welcome back to the Koopman DIY Project Book! Mums are known to be a fickle perennial, so much so that some gardeners just give up and treat them as annuals! It doesn’t have to be this way though. With proper care and preparation your beautiful mums can come back year after year.
All mums aren’t created equal however. Some are hardier than others and have an easier time even in harsher winters. Our friend Kevin from a local farm puts it like this, “Some varieties may be considered more of a tender perennial, and how they survive the winter will depend on the severity of the winter we have.” The good news is that there are ways to help these more tender mums come back healthy each year. Let’s take a look at how to winterize your mums!
Step 1: It Starts at Planting
Planting your mums in the optimal conditions is one of the best ways you can help guarantee your mums coming back for years to come. Mums like to be planted in a well draining soil. A lot of times its not just the cold weather that kills off the mums, but the roots freezing. If your soil collects well there is a good chance the roots will freeze and kill the plant.
You should plant the mums somewhere fairly sheltered to the harsh winter weather and winds. Up against the side of a house or shed are great locations. Planting in the ground is also better than planting in pots and then moving the pots afterwards. Kevin had this to say on the subject, “[Mums] planted in the ground or closer to the house are always better off than being left in pots.” If you do insist on planting them in pots however, move them into a shed during the winter or another slightly protected area. This allows the mum and soil to freeze and thaw naturally and is better than it never freezing or freezing and thawing constantly (like what would happen in a basement).
Mums are best planted in early spring. This gives them a chance to grow stronger roots systems. Mums can be purchased and transplanted up until fall but the planting should always take place in the spring! Koopman Lumber offers a great selection of seasonal mums in the late summer into the fall so don’t hesitate to check us out!
Step 2: Summer Care
During the spring and early summer pinch back the plants every 2-3 weeks. This encourages branching and better shaping as well as helping to establish a strong root system. You should stop this as soon as it hits July 1st.
Step 3: The First Frosts
The next step for caring for your mums is properly insulating them in the fall. After the first few frosts of the season the leaves on your mums will start to become brown and peel back. You can use these leaves to cover the base of the stem as well as adding mulch. Cut back the stem to about 3-4 inches after all the leaves have fallen and make sure you have a nice thick layer of mulch to insulate. This stem helps to ensure that next year you will have a nice, full plant by giving the new stem a stem to grow from. If you cut the stem all the way back to the ground they may not grow back next year!
Mulch is going to help keep the ground cold during warm spells in the winter. Constant thawing and freezing of the ground can kill plants, especially fickler mums. With this extra layer of leaves and mulch over the plant and root system you can help prevent the ground from thawing.
Winterizing your mums is an easy way to make sure you have another beautiful garden next fall. Feel free to head on down to your local Koopman Lumber location and ask a member of our highly knowledgeable team any questions you could have. While your there don’t forget to pick up some new mums for your home garden! Happy Gardening!