Plant mums now to enjoy beauty later Worth the wait

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By Judy Rodkey

OSU Ext. master gardener volunteer

I hope you have saved some planters for your fall planting of mums. It’s time to get them planted so you can enjoy their fall beauty.

Chrysanthemums bloom in September, October and sometimes as late as November. They should be planted in well-drained soil and full sun, away from street lights. These plants have many blooms and get quite large.

Mums also work well as container plants to decorate patios, porches and decks. Be sure to have good drainage and go easy on the water to prevent root rot. Large containers will be needed if you want them on the patio or the front porch. Larger pots will assist with the mums surviving our winters. Potted mums will not do well inside the home as lower light levels often result in yellowing leaves and droopy flowers.

Mums can be planted outdoors spring and fall. Spring-planted mums will be more robust. Spring plantings will require fertilization from May through mid-July for the best presentation. The practice of pinching new shoots when 3-4 inches long and leaving two to three leaves can be done through mid-July, but no later than August. After early August, flower buds will be eliminated entirely.

Pinching and fertilizing can be done on the same day. When planting in fall, plant at least six weeks before blooming to allow the plants to get established. Mums require adequate watering and should be watered to a depth of 4-6 inches. Frequent light watering should be avoided. It causes shallow root formation and can cause an environment that can lead to disease. Hardy mums can be perennials in Zones 5-9.

The mums you purchase this time of year can be annuals or perennials. Ask the seller for details and read the plant tags. Most of the time, though, being a perennial depends on how you plant and care for them now. Plant them in their permanent location now. Dig a hole three times the width of the pot and mulch them well. Mixing the soil like that will encourage root growth and limit heaving in the winter (which kills the roots). Planting in anything but clay soil will be a plus. Water adequately, but not excessively.

Recommendations differ when it comes to overwintering late-planted mums. Be sure to cover with 3-6 inches of soil. Some varieties can be damaged if cut down to the ground (especially if cut too early). For the best shape and size, mums should be divided every one or two years.

Mums that grow well in Ohio are (white) Encore, Illusion, Nicole, Tolima; (yellow) Donna Goldmine, Jessica, Target; (pink) Debonair, Naomi, Stardom, Sundoro; (bronze) Ginger Grace, Sandy, Triumph; (red) Bravo, Minngopher, Remarkable.

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