Did you know the colorful fall mums you have on your porch or entryway can bloom again next year? In this post, I’m sharing how to save your mums.
Your Mums Are Sending Out an SOS
Mums are the quintessential fall flower. Here in Northwest Ohio, it’s hard to even picture pumpkins on a porch without a colorful mum or two nearby. This is our third fall in our fixer-upper farmhouse, but it’s the first year I’ve purchased mums since we’ve been here. I added a few pots when I decorated our side door entry recently. Their vibrant colors complement the rest of nature’s palette perfectly. Mums also have a really pretty and uniform, rounded shape that looks nice in your landscaping even when they’re not blooming. After the first frost, though, it’s common to see mums piled curbside on trash day. That needless waste makes me sad. The thing is, your mums don’t have to get tossed out once Halloween has passed. Many varieties can be saved to enjoy again next year. Best of all, it’s easy!
Why You Should Save Your Mums
First of all, if you buy mums every fall, consider how much money you spend on them. The really pretty ones in large pots can set you back a bit. Multiply that by the number you want to put on your porch steps or on your back patio and it all adds up pretty quickly. Most, but not all mums, are perennials. This means that with just a little TLC, you can plant them in your garden and have pretty blooms next year. You just need to learn how and do it at the right time.
Growing up, I heard plenty of stories about how frugal my grandparents were. My parents taught me some good lessons about saving money, too. Using what you had always made sense then, and it still does today, even in this throwaway society we live in. Although I’m definitely not a hoarder, why buy something again and again when you don’t have to? The reality is that most people don’t think about replanting mums, never realized they come back the next year, or just don’t take the time to bother with the steps to take to do it. Even though this takes about five minutes. Got five minutes? Let’s save your mums!
What Kind of Mums Can Be Saved?
Most mums are perennials, which means they will bloom again next year. If you bought some this year and still have that little plastic tag in your pot, take a look at it. Does it say garden mum, hardy, or perennial on it? If you have no idea, take a look at what it’s planted in. A decently large pot means it’s likely a perennial. A floral mum is what you would buy in a store in a shallow container. Those, unfortunately, can’t be replanted. You can also call the nursery or store you purchased them from and they should be able to tell you.
Tips to Save Your Mums
If Your Mums Are Potted
- Your mums will not be able to survive a frost if they’re in a pot and left outside. And, if they don’t survive a frost, the root system will die and you’re out of luck replanting. Not sure about your frost dates? You can find a handy calculator here. If your mums are still nicely blooming, keep an eye on your low temperature. When the temps get below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, bring the pot or pots indoors at night.
- Once your blooming season is done, trim off the blooms so the stems and leaves are just a few inches above the soil line.
- Store the mums in your basement or in a semi-heated garage.
- Water every few weeks while in this dormant stage.
If You Already Planted Them
- First, the good news. If you planted your mums into your landscape soon after you purchased them, at least 4-6 weeks before your first frost hits, they will re-bloom. You can leave them where they are, but in this instance, don’t trim them back. Their blooms will give the plant better protection through the colder months ahead.
- Now, the bad news. If you planted your mums just a short time ago and your first frost is less than 4-6 weeks away, you will need to go dig them up and out of your garden. The shorter time in the ground will not provide them the root structure they will need to make it. Put them in a pot with fresh potting soil, trim them back as listed in the potted mums section, and put them in storage.
What to Do Next Spring
- In the spring, once your last frost date has passed, you can bring them out of hiding and find a nice spot to plant them in. If you plan to put them in the ground, keep in mind that the roots will grow and the plant will eventually need to be divided. This is a good thing since a divided plant means more of them for you to enjoy or to share. Dig a nice hole, add a little compost and mulch, then water well.
- If you’re planning to keep your mums in a pot, I recommend repotting them. The roots likely kept growing and new potting soil will give them the nutrients they need.
- Watch for buds that appear in the spring and summer. Even though you won’t want to, pinch them off so your fall buds and blooms will be bountiful and beautiful.
Mums are beautiful additions to your landscape. They will reward you with their color year after year with just a few minutes of your time and care. Mine are going to be replanted next spring in our empty grain silo bed in front of our sunflowers. Where will you be planting yours?