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GardenSMART :: Fall Chrysanthemums Require Care, Revive Outdoor Spaces in Autumn

Fall Chrysanthemums Require Care, Revive Outdoor Spaces in Autumn

By Steve Ward, Master Gardener Coordinator, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Lackawanna Country

Even though the growing season is over for the most part, you can give your garden a reprieve with a splash of fall color...

Fall mums are an excellent choice to revive your outdoor spaces this time of year. Very few gardening options are carefree like chrysanthemums. Base your selection on color, size, and type of blossom. Fall mums are usually grown and sold for instant color. 

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Most chrysanthemums sold this time of year are generally categorized as “fall mums.” The term "hardy" is not used as frequently since these plants are grown for color and bloom rather than their perennial characteristics. 

Gardeners rarely have easy decisions to make but mums for fall is about as easy as it gets. The choices ride solely on your tastes. You can purchase small plants, in 6-inch pots, to use in window boxes and containers. The next step up, and the most popular, is mums in 8- to 10-inch pots. Then there are grand ones, 12-inch pots or pre-planted decorative containers. The choice is yours. No matter the size, mums can be set out as is, and look beautiful.

Look at the leaves, which should be green in color, not mottled with yellow, ragged or dead edges, and can be signs of a diseased or distressed plant. Read the plastic stake inserted in the pot. It gives the best-recommended care for that particular variety. Plus, it gives you an idea of what the plant will look like in full bloom. For the most impact, choose plants in bud stage, and these will give you the longest color display.

Once the chrysanthemums are home, you can leave them in their pots. Most of the original containers have large drainage holes, so be mindful of that. If you place the plants in another container, make sure it has good drainage. Mums do not like wet roots. If you are energetic this time of year, you can re-plant the mums in the ground. They prefer moist, but well drained soil. Add compost, gently loosen any roots that are bound, and plant at the same height as it was in the original pot. You will get better blooms if the mums are not near streetlights. Mums are day length sensitive so exposure to lights at night will inhibit blooming.

For more information on fall mum care, please contact your local Cooperative Extension office.


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