When I talk about fall and planting and I make the comment of “bring me allllll the plants,” I mainly mean, bring on the mums. I so enjoy them because they represent fall in all their colors. I like a mixture. Yellows and rusts, burgundy, purple and whites. Bring ’em all on. Let’s talk about what you need to know before buying mums.
Everything I have learned about mums, I learned from a guy named Wesley that I follow on Instagram. He has a horticultural degree, and he recently gave the 101 on mums, and I thought it would be great tips to share with all of y’all.
So here’s the skinny of what you need to know before buying mums.
Welcome to Quick Tip Friday.
Mums to fall are like poinsettias to Christmas. They are a traditional fall plant, just as poinsettias are to the holidays. Mums are short blooming and they will only stay in bloom for a few short weeks. They don’t naturally grow in that traditional ball shape that you find them in at the garden center. The mums have been trimmed back to prolong the blooming.
QT #1 If you go into a garden center and buy a mum in full bloom, then up here in the northeast, you’ll only have it for a couple more weeks. So then you can either throw it away, toss in your compost, or try to plant it. Most varieties do not bloom again, it all depends on where you live and how hot it gets.
QT#2 The best advice to give you about mums is to put them in a basket or a container. Don’t worry about planting them in the dirt because they are short term, a transitional plant. I talked all about that here in this post. Keep them in their original pots.
QT#3 There are three stages of mums, and you’ll need to decide at what stage you want to buy them. Do you want them with only buds? Do you want a mum with mostly buds and some blooms? Or, do you want a mum that is in full bloom?
Let’s talk about this.
A mum that is all buds, no blooms, will take about two weeks before it opens up. Once the mum starts to open up, that is called cracking. This is when some of the buds are starting to open. Within a week, the mum will have some open blooms.
When a mum has some open blooms, the whole mum will open in about a week or so.
The mums you see during the fall have been forced to bloom now, so that means they have all of the buds they will get. They will not grow more. When your mum is fully bloomed, it will last about three weeks, depending on where you live and how hot it is. If you buy a mum that is in full bloom you can expect about two-three weeks, at most.
Here’s another tip: If you have a mum in the shade, it will last longer because it is cooler since it is not in full sun. If it’s really hot, and your mum is in full bloom, then it will only last you two weeks. For me, I like to buy them when they are full of buds, so I can enjoy the entire process.
Here is what Wesley told me when you have mums in your own garden and want them to bloom. Around the 4th of July, cut them down to six inches, and then they will regrow and bloom when you want them to, again depending on the variety. It won’t have that natural rounded shape that you’re used to seeing unless you trim the mum down during the summer.
So these are some really valuable tips you need to know about mums, these beautiful plants that are the epitome of fall decor. Just know they are short lived. Take care of them and dead head as blooms die off, and you should have a mum that will last you, baring you bought it when it was loaded with only tight buds, for at least a couple months. And that will certainly carry you through fall, and bring you right into the holidays.
But it’s really up to you to decide how far along you want your mum to be. If you’re willing to wait for the color, buy one with only buds. If you’re anxious and want alllllll the color, buy one with full buds. It’s your preference. Just remember, these plants are transitional plants.
Thank you, Wesley, for these amazing tips!