The Ultimate Care Guide for Mums

Mums are iconic fall flowers, and they add a fantastic splash of colour to any home or garden, and caring for them is easy for any gardener!

They’re not limited to the fall, though. Mums planted in early spring have a lot going for them! Fall mums are convenient, but spring mums can provide years of beauty at the cost of some upfront time investment. Let’s take a look at how both types of mums work and how you can have a beautiful looking garden no matter what time of year!

Growing Mums

Planting mums in your garden is as easy as can be. Two things to take into consideration before you plant are location and shade.

First, look for an area that you think would look awesome with some beautiful flowers, then determine if it will get 6 or more hours of sunlight per day. If it does, then you’re ready! If not, sadly it’s not a place that mums will grow well, and you’re going to want to consider a different location.

Next up is soil preparation. Mums thrive in well-draining soil, and if your soil contains a lot of clay, then it won’t drain well. Try mixing organic substance into the soil before planting such as sawdust, compost, or potting soil. Avoid sand when possible and instead, use gypsum.

Planting and Transplanting

If you bought your mums in the spring, hopefully, you set aside an area of your garden to plant them. Try to resist the urge to edge your garden with mums as they can grow to be quite tall if they survive the winter; up to four feet in some cases!

Planting Spring Mums

  1. Till the soil and add compost – Using a garden rake, loosen the soil and rake in compost to a depth of about 8 inches. If they soil is clay heavy and doesn’t drain well, add some extra compost.
  2. Dig holes for the mums – Pull the mums from their containers and place them on the ground where you want to plant them. Dig a hole that extends about an inch deeper than the current roots (about 8-10 inches depending on the plant). As noted before, garden mums will grow to be pretty big. When planting, ensure there is more space in between them than their current size would suggest, about 2-3 time as much lateral space as the size of the mum.
  3. Loosen the soil around the root ball – Around the edges of the root ball, loosen the soil from your container. Fan the roots gently before planting. The top of the root ball should be even with the top of the soil.
  4. Plant the mums – Set the mums into the hole you’ve dug and place the composting soil over the roots. Lightly pack down the soil.

Transplanting Fall Mums

670px-Plant-Mums-Step-4The great thing about fall mums is that they’re ready to bloom with no additional effort on your part! Make sure you grab great deals starting in August at Koopman Lumber and prepare to transplant at home!

Prepare a Location – Pick a spot with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day to plant your mums (can also be placed in a planter and moved somewhere sunny). Dig in a 2-inch layer of compost to a depth of about a foot.

  1. Shear the Flowers (if treated as a perennial) – If you’re going to try to keep these mums around for years, it can be tempting to plant a blossoming flower.  However, to ensure that the flowers root properly we need to make sure the plant’s energy is being used correctly. When a plant is flowering most of the energy goes into supporting the flowering process. By trimming it back, we can redirect that energy into creating a robust root system allowing it to survive the winter.
  2. Dig A Hole – First, dig a hole in the approximate location you think is appropriate for the plant. Then place your mum into the hole. Make sure that the crown of your plant (where the above ground and below ground parts of the plant meet) is level with the surrounding soil. Adjust the depth as needed.
  3. Fill in the Hole – Back Fill the soil you dug out around the roots of the mum, add a bit of compost and then gently tamp down the soil to fill the hole and remove air pockets.
  4. Water – Slowly water the plant until the root zone around the plant is saturated. If the soil settles and causes depressions, top the hole off with more soil and water until saturated.

Caring For Mums

Mums can be planted in many places. Common locations include garden beds, planters, vases and boxes. Each unique situation calls for a slightly different type of care! Your goals for the plant will also differ depending on if you want it to be annual or perennial.

Garden vs. Containers

mums-in-containerChoosing between planting your mums in a garden or a container boils down to an aesthetic choice. There are a few things to consider when deciding where to plant. Do you want a planter that you can fill up and be overflowing with flowers that can be placed wherever you want? Or would you prefer a garden with accents and highlights making it a gorgeous fixture in your yard? In a garden, mums will flower normally and accent the different growing cycles of the other plants within. In a planter, try to accent them with flowers that bloom at the same time, or around an accent plant such as Smoke Trees, Beauty Berry Shrubs, or almost any conifer!

Annual vs. Perennial?

annual-vs-perennial-mumsIf you want your mums to survive the winter, you’re going to need to ensure they have a deep and healthy root system. For mums planted in the fall, this means trimming it back and in the late fall to winterize it. To learn more about winterizing, read our winterizing your mums blog here. An annual mum arrangement can be planted and displayed as long as the season allows.

If you’re planning on planting perennial mums, the spring is the best time to do so. This allows the mums an entire year to grow a hardy root system while still enabling it to flower in the fall.

Hardy vs. Florist

florist-mumsThere are two main hierarchies of mums with a common ancestor – a golden-yellow daisy-like mum from China. Over the last few hundred years, this common ancestor has been hybridised so much that we now have two very distinct types of mums on te market.

Hardy – Also known as Garden Mums, these are the variety that you see year after year. They can be used as garden accents, to line a walkway, or even in planters to decorate your yard and entryways. They produce underground stolons which help it survive the winter much better than it would otherwise.

Florist – A florist mum is a plant which produces no such stolon, meaning they will have a rough time surviving any extended period of coldness. Winter will be very unkind to these plants. They will look beautiful but have very little chance of surviving the harsh cold.

Maintaining Mums

watering-mums-mWatering – Water newly planted mums thoroughly and never let them wilt. Once they establish themselves, an inch of water per week should be enough to maintain them.  Should they need more than that, try an inch every five days. Don’t soak the foliage, though, as you can give your plant a disease this way!

Fertilizer – If you’ve planted in the spring, give your mums a 5-10-10 fertilizer each month until the cool weather begins to set in. If your plant is being treated as an annual, stop fertilizing in the fall. If you plan on winterizing in later autumn, give it a high phosphorus fertilizer through late fall.

Winterizing – Preparing mums for the winter is as easy as reading this blog!

Pest Control – Mums are surprisingly resilient to pests. If you notice pest damage to your mums, you probably already have a significant pest problem! Contact us today by clicking here and we can help! Your plant’s circumstances will be unique, so we want to be able to help you personally!


1) Single and Anemone – These garden mums have daisy-like flowers. Small or large, both types have a layer of petals surrounding the flower’s center. The center is more prominent in anemone than they are in single garden mums.

2) In curve – These mums have many petals that curve (can you guess?) inwards. There are three subtypes of incurve flowers; Regular, Intermediate and Irregular. Ordinary mums are a neatly compact globe of petals.  Intermediate mums are a bit looser and therefore bigger.  Irregular mums have the largest blooms, and their lowest petals droop below the center.

3) Spoon and Quill – These mums have daisy-like petals that are tubular and flattened at the end of their petals, curling in. This makes then resemble time spoons.

4) Spider and Brush – Spider mums have long, thin, spider-like pedals with coiled ends. Brush (or thistle) mums have broom-shaped flowers with thin petals that point outwards.

5) Pom pom – These are the “poofy” button-like mums whose petals form a tiny ball.

types of mums petals

Closing Tips

Pinching off stem tips and some flower buds encourage some garden mums to produce the best flowers. The stems and flowers of some mums are removed by simply pinching them between your thumb and forefinger. In the late spring, pinch back about an inch from each stem top to produce a bushy, dense plant.

If you want each plant to have a large, single flower, then remove all buds that appear below the top flower buds at the stem ends.

Mums grown as perennials need to be divided every few years. After the last hard frost of spring, dig up the plant in one piece and separate the outer pieces from the center, replanting the outer portions.

Wrap Up

Wow! That was a lot! Thanks for sticking around and reading through to the end. We hope that the ultimate fall mums survival guide helped you out and if it did make sure you let us know! If you have any more mums questions feel free to reach out to us at, and as always, thanks for reading!