I have just come indoors from some hours of weeding, dividing, eliminating, and planting in my zone-5 garden. Although it is late spring here, I am actually already preparing some perennials for fall. I have been pinching back my tall hardy asters and chrysanthemums to try to prevent them getting too lanky later on as the growing season progresses.
I am also replacing some of my tall fall blooming asters with shorter varieties. For example, Aster cordifolius ‘Wood’s Blue’, ‘Wood’s Pink’, and ‘Wood’s Purple’ grow only 8-12 inches so I am using them to line the front of one of my big borders.
I now, too, buy my new chrysanthemums when they are small and plant them early, so that they can mature in my own garden and have their roots well established by the fall. This way I get them to come back more reliably after the winter as they are settled in and work better for me than the mature pots of mums in full bloom purchased in the fall.
I pinch them back all summer, until July, to make them grow bushy and full. There is the added bonus of only having to dig small holes when one buys small plants, and I also enjoy the fun of watching them develop. I am also dividing my vigorous pink daisy mum ‘Sheffield’ so that I have it in lots of different places since when it blooms in mid October here in Zone 5, it is my grand finale of bloom for the year.