We've all been there before.
Enticed by the beautiful, colorful mums displayed at the box stores or garden centers at the end of summer, or that rush of excitement we feel while shopping at Costco and spotting those fall mums just waiting for us to take them home, we give in and buy them all.
Sadly, these chrysanthemums often succumb to one season of enjoyment as many new gardeners mistakenly think they are annuals. At the end of their growing season, they are cast aside as scrap as we all move on to Christmas season. We're here to tell you that this does not have to happen! We can save them and enjoy them year after year, even if they're not hardy in your growing zone.
That's right, you can (and should) overwinter your potted fall mums, aka hardy mums, and we'll teach you three, different ways in which to do this below.
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Quick Growing and Care Tips for Hardy Mums:
- Mums are generally hardy in zones 5-9.
- They thrive in full sun (at least 6 hours).
- They like regular watering when actively growing and flowering, which means you need to keep the soil constantly moist around roots.
- They prefer well-draining and nutrient-rich soil.
- You can pinch them at least once in mid summer so the plant will be fuller with more blooms.
- Fertilize them with a well-balanced fertilizer until mid to late July or when flower buds start to form.
Three Ways to Overwinter Mums in Pots
Keep in mind that the ultimate goal in overwintering your mums in containers is to keep each plants' roots and stems from feeling harsh freezing temperatures. Nice and cozy, is the plan.
Also, winter care includes cutting them back BEFORE storing them for winter. Make sure to remove any old and withered flower blooms either before or after you have moved your potted mums so they don't harbor pests and diseases.
Now, here are three options for overwintering your mums:
1) Move Them Up Against a House/Structure
Move your potted mum up against your house or other building to protect it from the cold weather. This is a great option if mums are hardy in your area (reminder, they are generally hardy in zones 5-9) and can be placed under any available eaves to protect them so they can receive any residual heat from the building.
Water as needed so roots don't completely dry out; maybe once every two or more weeks, or once a month, especially if you haven't gotten any natural rain for a while.
2) Heal Them In
Heal-in your potted mum by partially placing each container into a hole of a raised bed or mounding mulch up around the sides of the container. Once you find the location that will work, dig a hole at least half as deep as the containter, and place your container in that hole.
Water as needed so roots don't completely dry out; maybe once every two or more weeks, especially if you haven't gotten any natural rain for a while.
3) Bring Them Indoors
Move your potted mum indoors and place it on a garage or shed bench so it stays in temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water as needed so roots don't completely dry out; maybe once every two or more weeks.
How to Know Which Overwintering Mum Option to Choose?
If you live in a zone that is colder than zone 5, you will need to choose Option 3 and bring your potted mums indoors for the winter.
If you live in a zone where mums are hardy, you have two choices; Option 1 or 2.
If you just don't have any room indoors but the mums are not hardy, try option 1 and move them closer to the side of your house or another structure that is protected from harsh wind or cold weather. This way, the plants can get that residual heat off the building and you can try to save them. They may or may not make it, but at least it is worth a try, right?
What To Do After You Overwinter Mums?
In the spring, once the threat of frost has passed on in your area, you can move your potted mums out into a sunny spot in your garden. Care for them as normal and watch them bloom in the fall.
These tips will help you overwinter your mums so they will return the following year and, hopefully, for years to come! Be sure to watch the video above so you can watch all three options for overwintering your mums in action. You can also find other plant care videos and a lot more on our YouTube Channel.
If you still aren't sure what you can do with your mums, you can always speak with your county extension agency to get really useful local information. Thank you for reading and we hope any part of our post has helped you become a better gardener.
Until next time, we'll see you in the garden!