Will Your Mums Survive Winter?

Not all chrysanthemums survive the winter. Provided by Denny McKeown.

As we enjoy the late summer weather, we begin to think of fall planting and preparation of  flowering beds for the winter. Denny McKeown of the bloominggarden.com explains mums and how to care for them. When you need assistance with fall planting or preparation of your garden for the winter, let HomeServicesLink assist you.

The chrysanthemum is a great late summer and fall blooming plant. There are several varieties to choose from, each offering many different colors. All mums, however, are not equal when it comes to winter hardiness.

There are basically three groups of mums. There are the pot mums also called florist mums, which includes pom pom mums and football mums. They have large blooms with leaves that are a pungent deep green color. This group is grown and prepared for sale by greenhouses and florists to be given as gifts and are not winter hardy.

Another group of mums is referred to as hardy mums or garden mums. This family can grow and flower from Wisconsin to Florida and can be found for sale at many retailers from garden centers and greenhouses to box stores and supermarkets.

Garden mums, by variety, bloom at different times from late summer to late fall. They come in many colors with several flower bloom styles and growing heights.

For many years, garden mums have been considered perennials and have been listed that way in all gardening books. Growers have been aware that some varieties of mums have been hardier than others and have focused on trying to grow only the hardiest varieties.

Even with all their efforts, many homeowners experience lots of winter kill when it comes to mums. Ohio Department of Agriculture has now taken mums off of their perennial list.

Growers now list garden mums as annuals or tender perennials (not cold hardy). The positive thing about this reclassification is the realization that most homeowners have been treating mums as annuals anyway. In other words, they tend to plant new mums during late summer to fall, enjoy the flowers and after they are done blooming pull them out in late fall, just like their impatiens, petunias and geraniums.

The third group of mums are the European mums. This group is considered sturdier with lots of blooms of various colors on stems that are not brittle like other mum types. This family also goes by the name “Belgian” mums.

The newest member to the mum family is the Mammoth mum, specially bred by the University of Minnesota to withstand very cold winters, down to -30 degrees, .

These mums are bred for use in the landscape, and you’ll find by their second and third years that each mum will produce hundreds of flowers and attain an eventual width of over three to four feet across.

They can be planted as individual plants or used in mass plantings. Mammoth mums can even be grown as a seasonal hedge that blooms each fall. They require minimal care in the landscape: no pinching or deadheading required.

Care and planting tips

• All mums want a lot of sun. Water only when they are dry and make sure roots are not kept wet.

• Try planting your mums in a location where you can enjoy their color from both inside and outside your home. They help brighten your day indoors when the fall weather is cool and wet.

• Prune all garden mums that you hope to grow over winter in late fall. Cut all the stems back to 4 inches from the ground and place 4 inches of mulch on top of each plant.

• Remove mulch when you see new growth appear in the spring.

• Prune your European mums in early spring to 4 inches.

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