Though most flowers fade by the end of summer, chrysanthemums, also known as “mums,” are the quintessential fall flower. This hardy perennial is best planted in spring and blooms throughout fall. Learn how to plant and care for mums to keep them coming back year after year—including how to winter mums.
Chrysanthemum x morifolium is the queen of fall flowers, celebrating the season in jewel colors: yellow, lavender, pink, purple, red, bronze, orange and white. Each bloom is made up of tiny flowers called florets. Flower shapes range in size from pincushion shapes to giant spiders, and there are hundreds to choose from.
Mums generally grow to a width and height of 3 feet if pinched regularly during the growing season. Flowering time is determined by day length (12 hours or less!), and then buds begin to form. Mums spread quickly when properly planted and distributed.
Are moms perennial or annual?
Mums are hardy perennials best planted in early spring. However, these pretty mums, sold at garden centers as fall decorations, are often best treated as annuals; Don’t try to overwinter them as they weren’t bred to be hardy.
Do mothers come back every year?
Yes, if you plant a hardy perennial marked for low temperatures, it will come back year after year. Early spring is the best time to order and plant mums to give them time to establish strong roots, become well established and grow into a sturdier, full plant before winter.
Southerners can enjoy the colorful displays of blooming mums twice a year, as the same temperature-weather days and nights that make mums bloom occur in both spring and fall. The northerners will have to settle for one show in the fall.
Choose a planting spot in full sun, away from trees and large shrubs. Mums need rich, well-drained soil. They don’t like stagnant water and will quickly rot if left too wet. Prepare by adding old manure or compost to the soil (mothers are heavy feeders).
Container tip: Many people keep their pot moms on or near their porch. Plants that receive light from security lights or streetlights at night will sprout slowly! If you’re wondering why your mom isn’t blooming, it’s often because of this reason (as well as a lack of sun or water).
When to plant mums
Mums are hardy perennials best planted in early spring.
Start sowing seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost.
How to plant mums
Set the mothers 18 to 36 inches apart depending on their expected size at maturity.
Moms need good air circulation.
Plant nuts in the soil at the same depth as they grew in the pot. If planted too low, water can pool around the base and rot the stems.