Nothing announces the change of the season from summer to fall more than the sight of chrysanthemums — more commonly known as mums — decorating doorsteps. These hardy autumn favorites come in a variety of colors, including the traditional yellow, rust orange, barn red and white as well as other softer color hues such as purple and pink. While mums are hardy and will tolerate cool, almost-freezing, temperatures relatively well, they are not immune to frost, and just one frosty night can do them in. Read on for tips on how to make mums last longer.
Select a Healthy Plant
Choose mums that are not in full bloom. Although mums in bloom may be more attractive at the garden center, they are already well into their life cycle. There is no way to tell if the blooms have just opened or have been open for a few weeks. Mums with closed blooms indicate that the plant is in an earlier stage of its lifecycle, and when they do bloom, they will last longer than those already putting forth flowers. Also check to make sure the stems on the plant are not bent or broken and that the leaves are green.
Choose the Right Container
A sturdy container will anchor the top heavy plant and support the clusters of blooms. A container that is approximately 1/3 larger than the root ball on all sides is ideal for re-potting a chrysanthemum.
Re-Pot Your Chrysanthemum
Gently remove the mums from the temporary container. Moisten the root ball to aid in removal if necessary. Line the bottom of the new pot with clean potting soil (approximately 1-2 inches) and place the root ball on top of the soil lined pot. Fill the remaining open areas loosely with potting soil. Do not pack the potting soil. The roots need aerated soil to expand.
General Mums Care
Place the newly potted plant in a sunny area and keep the soil moist, but do not saturate. Giving your plants too much water will result in rotting stems and mushy, decaying blooms. Deadhead as needed by removing any dead or damaged flowers, leaves, and stems when necessary to keep your mum looking fresh and healthy. If a frost is expected, move the mums to a protected inside area such as a garage, shed or barn in the evening, before the temperature drops. Place the plants back outside when the temperature rises above 50 degrees the next day. Alternately, you can cover the potted plants with old towels or sheets to protect from the frost, taking care to cover all exposed areas of the plant.