How to Keep Your Mums Blooming All Fall Long

With some routine maintenance and care, your chrysanthemum morifoliums will flourish throughout the entire season.

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Chrysanthemum morifoliums, also known as mums, are fall's signature flower. The easy-to-grow bloom adds seasonal interest to your garden just as summer flowers are fading. The drought-, disease-, and infestation-resistant bloom doesn't require much maintenance, but without proper care, chrysanthemums can weaken and fade fairly quickly.

As one of the season's most beloved and colorful flowers, it's natural to want to do everything in your power to keep your mums blooming all fall long. "The blazing reds, yellows, and oranges found in outdoor garden mums also look great in containers on porches and patios," says Joyce Mast, plant expert at Bloomscape. As for how long mums last when they're cared for properly? The perennial (which is typically grown as an annual) absolutely can flourish throughout autumn; mums typically last from late August until the end of October, per the New York Botanical Garden.

pink mums amongst fall leaves
Arletta Cwalina / EyeEm / Getty Images

Water Mums Based on Their Growth Cycle

While established mums can be watered as little as once per week, younger plants need more frequent watering to encourage bigger and brighter blooms. "This is especially important when the plant begins flowering, because if the chrysanthemum wilts, it can lose all its blooms," says Benjamin Godfrey, garden manager at Cornerstone Sonoma. However, it's equally important to avoid overwatering them. "If the soil is saturated for too long, the roots will start to drown and the plant will weaken and become susceptible to disease," he says.

Fertilize in the Spring and Summer

To encourage growth and root production before the cold weather season, fertilize your mums when you plant them in the spring and early summer. "Avoid fertilizing your mums in the fall," says Godfrey. "The plant may be tricked into returning to a growth cycle when you want it to put its energy into flowering."

Mulch Garden Beds

Once autumn temperatures begin to fall, it's a good idea to blanket or mulch your garden beds with old leaves or wood chips. You should apply 4 to 5 inches around the base of each plant. "Once the ground freezes, the protective mulch remains around the base," Mast says. This step will keep your mums safe from future cold weather extremes.

Pinch Your Mums

The secret to creating a fuller plant and maximizing flower production is pinching the stems of your mums, which should occur during springtime. "Every time they grow 5 to 6 inches, pinch the tip of each shoot about 2 to 3 inches down the stem, just above the leaves," Godfrey says. "Each pinched stem will produce more stems, which can be pinched again when they're another 5 to 6 inches tall." Continue this process into July, when the growth cycle naturally slows down.

Prune Your Mums

When winter approaches, you can preserve your mums for the next year by cutting back old stems. "Cut the stems down about 1 inch or 2 above the soil and you may just see them reappear in the spring," Mast says.

Deadhead Your Mums

If you aren't removing the old foliage and spent blooms from your mums, you're hindering their growth. "Another important way to keep your mums looking good all fall is to deadhead the spent flowers before they're completely dead," Godfrey says. When you see dead or discolored blooms, simply cut them off with a gardening scissor, which will encourage the plant to put its energy into flower production.

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