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Simple Guide to Buying and Maintaining Fall Mums

Jay Long

I love mums. Not as much as lilies, but pretty close and I find myself biting at the bit this time of year every year wanting to buy mums for my yard, but not wanting to buy them too soon. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s something I struggle with every year.

Through research, conversation and visits to places that sell mums, I’ve learned a whole lot about the plant that I love, including the best ones to buy this early in the season.

I’ve already bought some mums for my house, but I made sure to pick out plants that haven’t “blossomed” all the way yet. Full bloomed mums are beautiful, but if you want them to last until your last Thanksgiving guest leaves and you want to buy mum like right this second, pick out mums that aren’t full yet. They’ll last longer.

A lot of people buy perennial mums and plant them in their yard and then are frustrated because they don’t come back the next fall.  The reason is that if you plant mums now, the roots won’t have time to establish.  If you want a bunch of mums to pop up in the fall, you need to plant mum seeds in the spring so they have a couple months to get situated.

Mums love cooler weather and don’t like hot weather so much, kind of like me. Mums tend to wilt and turn brown if they get too hot, so it’s best to wait until you’re sure the temps have dropped for the season before buying them. Nothing will kill your mums faster than cool nights and hot days.

Mums love sunshine, so if you live in a place without a lot of sun, mums might not be for you.  I know, that’s sad. While mums love sunshine, they also love water, so make sure to water your mums on a regular basis.  You don’t want to drown them, but you want to make sure that the soil is moist.

Just like you would with hanging baskets or any other plants in your garden, when the flower part of your mum starts to turn brown or wilt, you want to dead-head it.  That means you want to cut the icky part off.  This will help prevent the deadness from spreading to the good blooms.

If you’ve got mums that come up every year and they’re looking a little dingy- did you remember to cut them back a little?  Just as flowers need to be “dead headed” and shrubs need to be pruned, mums need to be cut back a little bit from time to time to help them fill out even more in the fall. It’s best to pinch them back before July and then let them do their thing.

Happy mum shopping!

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