If you are reading this article, then it’s likely you already have an appreciation for mums. I mean, what gardener doesn’t? They add such a beautiful autumnal pop of color to front porches everywhere and are an essential addition to fall planters.

collage of photos showing fall mums with text overlay "how to care for fall mums to they last!"

But, it’s all too common to get disappointed by fall mums that simply fail to thrive. Maybe their blooms faded soon after bringing the plant home. Maybe they seemed to dry up no matter how well you watered them. It’s happened to all of us. So, this fall, be prepared to have your best fall-decorated front porch yet with these tips and tricks for taking care of your fall mums!

How to Pick a Great Fall Mums Plant

There are several factors to consider when picking mums for your garden. One of the most critical of those factors is the plant’s overall health. Use a quick visual inspection to ensure the mums you choose are healthy and disease-free. Damage, brown leaves, and other forms of discoloration are all signs that a mums plant is not as healthy as it should be. 

After verifying that a mums plant is in good condition health-wise, the next step is to evaluate the flower development. Typically, it is best to select fall mums that have not yet bloomed. The reason for this is twofold. First, mums that have not yet bloomed are easier to transplant. Second, if you buy mums that have not yet bloomed, you’ll have the chance to witness and enjoy the flowers throughout their entire bloom period. 

and orange and a reddish orange fall mums plant side by side with a few grey pumpkins in front of them
Photo source: BHG

After selecting a healthy mums plant with flowers that have yet to open, be ready to transplant it to a larger garden container. Plastic nursery pots tend not to be the most attractive containers. Additionally, the mums you bought have likely sat in their containers long enough to be rootbound. Transplanting your mums to a larger container gives their roots plenty of room to expand. 

How to Care for Your Potted Fall Mums

Once you have selected the ideal mums plant, it’s time for you to learn how to care for it. After all, the better you are able to maintain your mums, the longer you get to enjoy their beautiful fall flowers. 

Water Requirements

Fall mums require a relatively high amount of water compared to other plants. Generally, you should give your mums water about once per day or once every other day, depending on the weather. When watering, be sure to sprinkle water directly on the soil rather than getting the leaves wet. 

Photo source: All About Gardening

Light Requirements

Mums prefer to have plenty of sunlight. Place your fall mums in a full-sun location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. 

fall mums plants at the store not yet in full bloom
Photo source: JillWellington / Pixabay

Soil Requirements 

While mums have specific requirements regarding water and sunlight, they are less picky about the soil in which they live. In most cases, fall mums can survive in most soil types. The most important soil feature to consider for mums is drainage. Ensure that both the container in which you grow your mums and the soil in that container allow for efficient drainage to prevent waterlogging. 

Photo source: Farmers’ Almanac

How to Plant Fall Mums

Now that you understand how to select mums and the general conditions these plants require, your last step is to learn how to plant your fall mums. 

When to plant Fall mums

Many of the most popular mums varieties are able to survive throughout hardiness zones 5 through 9. This means that most gardeners throughout the United States have the opportunity to grow mums as either perennials or annuals. 

Photo source: MikeGoad / Pixabay

If you grow your mums as perennials, you can plant them during the early spring. If you grow your mums as fall annuals, you can plant them just before they bloom during late summer or early fall. 

Planting mums in ground

When choosing an outdoor growing location, be sure to select one that features all of the growing requirements we mentioned earlier, including full sunlight and well-draining soils.

fall mums plants growing in landscaping bed alongside house
Photo source: Ogutier / Pixabay

Your fall mums will look best when you arrange them with other attractive plants that complement them. Plants like asters, pansies, coral bells, and more all look fantastic next to fall mums. However, since mums come in so many different colors, grouping a few different mums in a single planting scheme can be enough to provide immense visual appeal. 

Growing mums indoors

If you choose to grow your mums indoors, know that the same general requirements apply, so make sure your plant is near a window that receives plenty of light throughout the day. Unlike outdoors, however, they need filtered sunlight rather than direct light while growing indoors. Direct sunlight through a window can end up scorching their foliage.

Common questions

When should I buy fall mums?

In general, September is usually a great time to buy your mums plants as long as you pick a plant that is not yet in full bloom to ensure you get to enjoy their blooms as long as possible. In warmer climates, you can buy mums well into fall and still enjoy their blooms before the winter cold sets in.

Can I plant my potted mums in the ground?

Yes, you can plant your mums in the ground and expect them to bloom again next year as long as you provide them the correct soil, light, and water requirements we list above. However, you’ll need to plan ahead and plant your mums in early fall. Don’t wait until they’ve bloomed and gone dormant while decorating your porch before deciding to get them in the ground. They need more time to get roots established before your first frost to be successful growing in-ground.

How long do potted mums last?

This is where your timing makes a difference. If you purchase your potted fall mums while it’s still hot out and set them out on your porch, they will likely only last a couple weeks. Fall mums do best in cool weather, which will keep them thriving for up to 8 weeks!

Are mums annuals or perennials?

Mums can be grown as perennials as they are hardy in zones 5-9. Set them up for success through the winter by leaving all the foliage on the plant and mulching well to help insulate from cold winter temperatures.

yellow mums plant with two pumpkins leaning against it

Enjoy your Fall Gardening!

Fall mums are a great addition to continue gardening well into fall. If you’re looking for more ways to keep the gardening fun going throughout the season, check out our list of vegetables to plant for a fall harvest, or our ideas on decorating your front porch or front door for fall, fall planter ideas, and more! If you’re more of a hang-up-the-garden-gloves-until-spring kind of gardener, we get that! Check out our garden cleanup guide and steps to take in fall for a killer lawn next spring then our list of fall planted bulbs and how to plant those bulbs for spring to get your garden prepared for next year!

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