Baby Mums

The best time to plant chrysanthemums is now...in the spring!

baby mums

Photo: Liz West (Wikimedia Commons)

Potted chrysanthemums in a plant nursery.

Chrysanthemums are the quintessential autumn flowers in this hemisphere, but the best time to plant them is now, in the spring. Buy “baby” plants but allow them plenty of room to grow and expand, as they will reach maturity and bloom their first year.

Mums need good drainage, and this is especially so in the winter so they don’t rot. Pinch them back regularly this summer so that they become full and bushy by fall. Stop pinching by the 4th of July so that they have plenty of time to set their buds.

There are many different types of chrysanthemum blooms:

  • Button mums have tiny flowers with small petals and produce a dense mound of color that is unaffected by the elements as the stems do not sprawl.
  • Cushion mums have larger flowers but though bigger in size are also low growing and mounded and compact in shape.
  • Football mum flowers are large and are produced on tall three-foot plants.
  • Spoon and quill mums have more unusual petals, and the plants grow about two feet tall.
  • Daisy mums are especially cheerful and prolific, and some varieties such as the pink Korean mum ‘Sheffield’ often bloom late in the fall season.

It is best not to try to overwinter the full size mum plants that are purchased in full bloom in the fall. While occasionally one can be lucky with these and have them persist in the garden, more frequently they do not have enough time to get their roots established before the cold weather. It is more cost efficient to buy small mum plants now, and by fall you will have many lovely flowers on well-established plants that will last in your garden for years.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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