Have you ever purchased a chrysanthemum (better known as mum) to decorate for fall, just because they’re beautiful, they scream fall to you and you couldn’t resist, just to get it home and have it looking pathetic in a couple of weeks? That’s so aggravating! Especially when you like to decorate for fall. Plus, I’m cheap and that just feels like money down the drain.
After many years’ experience and lots of money wasted on potted mums for my outdoor fall vignettes, I’ve put together these tips for keeping potted mums looking great. I think you’ll find the tips helpful and you’ll be getting the biggest bang for your buck from your purchased potted mums.
Let’s just cover a few basics about chrysanthemums before we get started. There are annual mums used mainly for fall decorating and there are perennial (or hardy) mums that are planted right in the garden and return year after year. I have both, but for this post we are talking about annual potted mums that only live a few months in the fall. Some of you lucky gardeners in warmer gardening zones can plant your annual mums in the ground and have them return the following year.
The Best Time to Buy Potted Mums
First of all, let’s go shopping. Now this is the first rule of thumb in keeping potted mums looking great – don’t buy your mums too early. I know we have readers from all over the country, so it’s important to know when too early is. Know the extended weather forecast for your area. Mums really like temps in the 60s and below. For instance, here in Minnesota – Zone 4b, it’s best to wait until mid to late September or early October before purchasing mums.
So this year, I’m totally guilty of breaking my first rule. I purchased my mums about a week and a half ago, when the weather was nice and cool, and I was feeling all cozy and ready for fall. I love fall so much that sometimes I totally jump the gun. Can you relate? Now this week, we have had several days with temps in the mid to upper 80’s and my mums’ little buds are popping like crazy.
Tips for Keeping Potted Mums Looking Great – How to Shop for Potted Mums
Let’s pretend there’s a chill in the air, we have our sweatshirts on, and we’re in the mood to get some outdoor fall decorating done. Let’s go shopping together and I will give you some tips for picking out the best mums. When I walk up to a gardening center and see this, it’s pure sensory overload! BUT, wait, we do not want to buy these mums.
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Don’t you just love to look across a greenhouse and see loads and loads of mum plants. These aren’t the mums for us either.
Aren’t these gorgeous! The rich vibrant color is what fall is all about. But, these won’t be coming home with us either.
So here’s my BEST tip for keeping mums looking great – pick out mums that have tight closed buds, like this next picture. I realize it’s not instant gratification, but in the long run it will be a better purchase. Now, these are the mums we want to buy.
Here’s a Pin to save to one of your Favorite Gardening Boards or Fall Boards on Pinterest:
How to Care for Potted Mums So They Last
My number three tip for keeping mums looking great is to make sure they have sufficient water. All the tips are important, but this one is probably the most important. Mums like to be moist, so don’t let them dry out. Once you have your mums home, immediately check to see if they are moist, if not, give them a drink. Also, grab a saucer that you have laying around or an old plate and put that under the pot. These saucers are the ones I use and they work perfect. The saucer will catch the water run off and help to keep the plant moist at the bottom where the roots will drink it up.
Even if you’re going to plop the pot into a more attractive container, put a saucer under it. Another good watering tip is to water at the base of the plant, closest to the roots, very slowly. If it rains or if you notice there’s still water in the saucer the next day, dump it out so the mum doesn’t get to moist and rot. Be sure to feel the soil to see if it’s moist every day.
Tips for Keeping Potted Mums Looking Great – Deadhead
Here’s my fourth tip for keeping mums looking great. As your mum continues to bloom, pinch off the blooms that are spent or fading and turning brown. For you non-gardeners, that’s called deadheading. This just keeps the plant looking tidy. In the case of annual mums, it does not promote rebloom.
A Few More Tips For Keeping Potted Mums Looking Great
In closing, just a few more tips for keeping your mums looking great. If the weather forecast shows lots of sun and the temps moving to the upper 70s, consider moving your mums to a more shady spot. In fact, if you are in warmer climates, consider keeping your outdoor potted mums in an area where they do not get full sun, especially hot afternoon sun.
I used to never repot the mums I purchased for outdoor decor, until a few years ago. I found out that the mums that were repotted and had fresh potting mix added in, lasted much longer than the ones that were not repotted. This year I will take that extra step and repot all the mums that I purchase. Try it and see what you think.
Some super cute fall decor items to go along with your potted mums:
When following all these tips for keeping potted mums looking great, I’ve had mums last for 6 weeks or more. Do you have any other tips that you practice other than the ones I’ve listed? Please leave a comment below and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!
Here are some other Fall Gardening posts you’ll enjoy:
Thanks so much for stopping by Gingham Gardens today. I so appreciate your visits and your kind comments. Feel free to hang out for awhile and check out a few of my fun Fall Gardening posts.
Happy gardening for a little while longer,
p.s. Please help me out by pinning these pictures. Simply hover in the upper left-hand corner and click the “pin” icon. There are some more pins at the bottom of the page. Thanks!!!!
p.p.s. Follow Gingham Gardens on Pinterest for lots of great gardening ideas and tons of gardener’s eye candy.
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