Mums 101

Nothing says the “start of fall” like chrysanthemums (or mums for short). We start bringing these blooming perennials in our stores at the beginning of September and the entire store begins to acclimate into autumn. Not only do these amazing bloomers give fantastic fall vibes, but they are also extremely easy to decorate with, and upkeep, for years to come. 

Here is some of our best information on mums to get your fall garden and decor started as soon as possible.


Mums: Annual or Perennial? 

The debate of whether or not mums are annuals or perennials depends on the type of mums you choose as well as where you live (as well as how you want to decorate). Most garden mums are perennials in USDA zones 5-9 while florist mums tend to be only hardy in USDA zones 7-9. Garden mums are known for their tightly packed dome-like blooms with a variety of different bloom cycles, depending on the variety. Florist mums are usually a bit taller, as they are meant for bouquets. Florist mums also have a variety of bloom shapes unlike garden mums such as pompom, spider, football, and quilled. Whether you treat your mums as annuals or perennials, your home and garden will still have a fresh fall look with mums.


Decorating with Mums

Since mums are so easy-going, they are also easy to decorate with! Potting them up or planting them can really boost your garden, porch, patio, or interior for that fall feel. Here are some of our suggestions for decorating with mums. 

  • Try them in containers, either by themselves or with other fall favorites like ornamental grasses and ornamental peppers.
  • Go bold by planting in your garden beds to replace your spent summer annuals.
  • Incorporate into a late-blooming flower garden with goldenrod, asters, grasses, and sedums.
  • Experiment with alternative containers to pots such as hanging baskets and window boxes. 
  • Pair a garden flag with your container of mums with your favorite football team or a festive fall flag.


Perennial Care - Tips to Extend your Mums

If you end up deciding that you want to keep your mums growing year-round, you will need to be aware of some care tips and facts that can help your mums stay healthy and strong. 

Mums need 4-6 hours of direct sunlight outdoors and like moist, well-drained soil. They can grow to about 1-2 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide in the landscape so you will need to cut 1-2 inches back 2-3 times between the last bloom and July 1st to create a full sturdy plant that blooms profusely and on time. If you have issues such as leaf spot, powdery mildew, leaf miners, and/or spider mites, Triple Action by Fertilome is a great preventative to be sprayed a couple of times in the spring into summer. You will also want to feed your mums in late April with our McDonald Garden Center Greenleaf plant food and again after the last prune in late June.

Once your mums are spent for the season, they still can do wonderful things for your seasonal decor! Mums have very tightly packed rootballs, which can be used for placing your cut greens in for the winter holiday season or even to mix in with your favorite potting soil for that added boost of nutrients. 


For more information on mums, check out Mike the Garden Guru’s seminar on mums here. Come catch the sales this weekend with Mum Mania! For more info on fall sales, deals, and fun, check out our list of fall events through the attached PDF.