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How To Keep Mums Flowering All Fall – 4 Keys To Lasting Blooms!

Looking for a few tips and tricks to keep your mums flowering all fall long?

No other flower introduces autumn like the welcoming blooms of mums. Whether you purchase your mums at a local garden nursery or grow them directly in your flowerbeds, they are the perfect sidekick to pumpkins, hay bales and all your other fall decor – that is if you can keep them blooming! 

There is nothing more depressing than having your mums begin to fail long before the fall decorating season is over. Not only can it make your displays look less than ideal – it can be a huge expense to have to go out and purchase more!

how to keep mums flowering all fall
With just a few simple tips and tricks, you can keep your mums looking their best through the fall season.

But with just a few simple purchasing and care techniques, you can all but ensure to keep your mums flowering big and strong all autumn long. And even better, if you purchase the right type of mums – you can keep them again for next year too.

With that in mind, here is a look at how to get the most from your mums this season – starting with making sure you buy smart from the start!

How To Keep Mums Flowering All Fall Long

Buying Right From The Start

Although there are over 5,000 different varieties of mums, there are basically major types of mums – floral and hardy mums. And knowing which to buy right from the start can save a lot of headaches for gardeners.

Floral or cutting mums as they often go by are basically annual mums. They have shallow root systems and cannot handle the colder temperatures of winter. They tend to be smaller mums that fill their canopy with flowers – for one season only.

Hardy or garden mums as they often go by are a much tougher mum. They are perennials in zones 5-9 and have a deeper root system. And that deep root system produces a larger canopy that ranges from one to three feet. Better yet, garden mums can also be covered in a mass of blooms for the fall!

garden mum
Garden mums tend to be smaller in size with tighter bloom sets. They can be beautiful, but cannot be kept over winter.

That deeper root system also helps to keep it from freezing. This means as long as you live in zones 5 through 9 and purchase hardy mums, you can overwinter them year after year to have those big, rich fall blooms of red, orange, bronze, yellow, lavender, purple, pink, and white coming back to brighten your landscape – all for free!

Floral mums can certainly be great for small table displays, etc. – but look for garden mums when purchasing to really get more bang for your buck!

Selecting A Mum NOT In Full Bloom – How To Keep Mums Flowering All Fall Long

One of the biggest keys to making sure your mums stay blooming long into fall occurs before you even select your mums and bring them home. 

While at the store, it can be tempting to want to grab the fullest mums with abundant blooms. However, you want to stay away from full-blooming mums unless you need them for a display in the next week or so. Mums at this stage only have another week or two of prime color and will start to fade soon after. 

Even mums that are partially blooming aren’t the best choice either. Instead, look for mums that are full of tight buds. At this stage, the blooms will not only last longer, but you will also be able to actually extend their bloom period and make the most of your purchase.

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Select mums that are just coming out and are full of buds – not flowers. These will provide plenty of interest all fall long!

In addition to picking out a mum with tight buds, make sure the plant has plenty of room to expand. Many times, mums at local nurseries or stores can already be root bound. Pick the pot up to examine. If roots are already coming out of the bottom, avoid the plant. It is most likely root bound and will be hard to keep blooming longer.

Place In The Right Location – How To Keep Mums Flowering All Fall Long

Mums are more than capable of handling full sun, but it is actually better to provide them with lots of shade if you want to keep them blooming longer. When mums are in a location with full sun, the light will force mums into full-bloom mode. In addition, the added heat will shorten their blooming cycle time.  

Instead, choose a location that has more shade with just occasional sun exposure so they can develop their buds more slowly. This will extend your mum’s bloom life by as much as two full weeks or more. Keeping mums on porches, patios, or even under trees helps avoid the harsh sun rays as well as protects the blooms from hard rains. And as you will see in the next step, how they get their water matters.


Keeping your mums watered often and correctly are two keys to ensure your mums continue to produce blooms. 

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Blooms and flowers can easily get scorched, even in the dry and less humid weather of fall. This occurs especially when mums are in pots or containers. If you allow their roots to dry out for an extended period of time, it will greatly reduce a mum’s bloom cycle.  

Check your plant’s soil daily by sticking the tip of your finger into the soil. If it feels dry about an inch or so below, then it’s time to water. Your mums will likely need to be watered at least once a day. On really warm days, you should water them more often.

In addition to frequent watering, how you water also makes a big difference to mums. If at all possible, you want to avoid watering from the top down. When the blooms of a mum become frequently damp with water, they weaken and fade faster. It can actually cut a bloom’s life in half if they are saturated with water regularly.

Instead of watering from above, water at the base of the plant at either the edge of the container or below the foliage when watering in-ground plants with a hose. 

Deadheading Blooms – How To Keep Mums Flowering All Fall

Your climate and the type of mum you purchase will determine whether you want to deadhead your mums or not. 

keep mums flowering
There is nothing better than adding big color to your fall displays with blooming mums.

For annual mums, you should cut off any dying blooms. This allows the plant to spend its energy on producing new blooms as opposed to repairing fading ones. Simply cut a spent bloom’s stem off a few inches down (this is just to makes sure you aren’t left with a bare stick poking through the top of the plant).  

If your hardy mums are already in the ground, it’s actually best if you don’t prune them in the Fall. Leaving on the dead foliage will actually help the plant to survive the colder temperatures.

After Fall Care For Mums – How To Keep Your Mums Flowering All Fall Long

If saving hardy mums, it is important to know they cannot survive freezing temperatures in pots or containers. When nighttime temperatures dip below freezing, make sure to bring plants inside a garage or someplace warm. See: How To Overwinter Mums With Ease

You may choose to overwinter potted mums in a cool, dark area such as a basement or garage to allow them to go dormant. Trim the plant down to pot level and water once a week so you can keep the roots from completely drying out. 

Once the weather starts to warm up in the spring, you can set them back outside again. Spring is also when you should plant perennial varieties of mums. Planting in the spring allows the plants to establish their root system before the cooler weather months.

saving hardy perennials
You can plant hardy mums in the landscape to continue to add fall color year after year.

If you prefer not to overwinter your mums, however, don’t just throw them in the trash. Instead add the spent plants and soil to your compost pile. They will break down and help to create nutrient-filled soil you can use once spring arrives. You can even add create a potting soil pile in the fall to recharge potting soil and use it again! (See : How To Save Old Potting Soil)

Here is to getting the most from your mums this fall – and to keeping them flowering longer than ever!

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