Nothing feels like autumn like pumpkins and garden chrysanthemums also known as mums. Between these two of nature’s bounty, it is unmistakable that fall has arrived. Enjoying mums in the fall garden is the ultimate fall gardening indulgence. With their vibrant colors in glorious shades of orange, burgundy, reds, deep yellows, and dark purples, mums are such a welcome garden flower when the weather starts cooling and the days start getting dark much earlier. Just looking at these colored mums warms you up during the cool fall months.
I always wondered why mums were only available in the fall and not at other times of the year. And then I read an article a few years back that explained why. What I found out is that mums prefer autumn weather. While many garden plants start winding down in fall as the temperatures get cooler and the days get shorter, mums thrive in these conditions.
Mums require shorter days, cooler temperatures, and they depend on long cool nights to set bloom and flower. Mums also tolerate frost, which makes them ideal flowers during the transition time from fall to winter. Mums can also last in the garden all the way up to December unlike many other garden plants. Because of these characteristics, mums have become an ubiquitous fall flower to brighten up any garden landscape.
Interestingly, here in Northern California, because our night time temperatures dip down to cool 60s almost all year, mums in our area grow and bloom all year-round from March to December.
There are two types of mums. This is important to note because I always get asked how come my mums grow so nicely in my garden even in spring and summer. That’s because the mums that I have are garden mums that I bought from the nursery.
If you buy what are known as “florist” mums or greenhouse mums that have larger flowers and are usually bred for indoor use and floral arrangements, these mums are intended for indoor display and may not survive when planted outside in the garden.
On the other hand, garden mums can survive winters in warmers climate zones like on the West Coast, and just like any perennial, will come back and bloom once spring arrives.
When purchasing mums you want to get them with tight buds. This way you will have a long bloom show to enjoy.
When you are ready to plant mums in the garden choose a full sun location with well-drained soil. Mums do not like stagnant water; in fact they prefer the soil to get dried out in-between waterings. Once the mums have finished flowering, you can cut the stalks down to the base of the plant. Then wait for the next batch of new stalks to appear and the plant will flower again in a few months. Once the plant sets bud, the flowering show can last for up to 2 months. I find my garden mums will slowly spread almost like a weed and start forming a larger clump over time. If you prefer to keep mums contained, then plant them in a pot and let them take over that pot.
Try growing garden mums in your garden, or purchase a couple of florist mums to enjoy indoors. Whether inside the home or outside in the garden, gorgeous orange, red and yellow mums brighten up any fall landscape and indoor decor.