Care Tips for Hardy Mums – From Container to Garden

Care Tips for Hardy Mums – From Container to Garden
  • Posted October 20, 2014

Hardy mums come in hundreds of colors and flower forms and bloom for several weeks in the autumn, when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Mums, along with pumpkins, herald the fall season, and provide instant color to our patios and gardens. With the right care, hardy mums can be enjoyed for years to come.


  • When selecting plants, choose mums whose deep green foliage is not wilted.
  • The soil in the container should be moist, not dry.
  • Look for plants with tightly closed buds, because you will be able to enjoy the blooms longer at your home.

mum in pots with pumpkins


To increase the length of the mum’s display, consider repotting it from the nursery container into a larger pot. Mums tend to get root bound, making it difficult for the soil to retain any water, so repotting will provide more soil and room for the roots to spread.

1. Gently remove the mum from the nursery container, spread out the root ball, and place the plant in the new pot, maintaining the depth of soil that the plant was originally grown in. Allow enough room at the top of the container to hold water until it can soak into the soil.

2. While your plant is in its container, keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet. Mums are thirsty plants, so check them for moisture often. Water them during the morning, so that the leaves have time to dry during the day. Never allow them to wilt.

3. Place the pot in an area that receives full sun in the morning and partial shade in the afternoon.

4. Removing fading flowers allows the plant to put more energy into producing more blooms.

If you would like to enjoy your mum next year, you will have to plant it into the ground before the first hard frost.

mums in landscape


Hardy mums can be planted in your landscape, putting on a show for you now, and returning to do the same in the fall for several years.

Grown primarily for their showy fall flowerheads, mums should be planted in a location where other plants can offset their plain green foliage in the spring and summer months. Flowering mums provide the most impact when planted in masses, so consider a monochromatic bed, or perhaps a rainbow of colors.

1. Select an area of your garden that receives at least 6 hours of full sun, and has well-drained soil. If your soil is heavy with clay, it should be amended with organic material. Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the existing roots, and maintain the depth that the mum was grown in the nursery container. Thoroughly water-in the plant, and check it daily, watering freely in dry weather.

2. After the first hard frost, pinch or snip off dead flowers, but leave the foliage. Mulch generously, and remove the mulch as soon as warmer spring weather arrives. In the spring, trim off the previous year’s foliage when you see new green growth emerging.

3. Hold off on fertilizer until the new foliage emerges in the spring, and then apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every week to ten days from midsummer until the flower buds begin to show color.

4. When you see the plant growing and taking shape, pinch the growth back to encourage branching and compact bushy growth. Maintain plants at 6-8” tall until mid-July, then allow the plant to grow and form buds. This amount of pinching may seem drastic, but will be worth it when your plant is a lush mound of blooms rather than a leggy sprawl of just a few.

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Nancy Stebbins
About the Author

Nancy Stebbins is a proud Michigan State University alumna, a landscape designer, and horticulturist at MasterTag – a horticultural printing company.

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