How to Keep Fall Mums Gorgeous All Season

This article contains affiliate links for advertisers of this site. See our disclosure page for more information.

One of the sure signs that cooler weather is on the way is the arrival of fall mums (Chrysanthemums) at local retailers.

They are synonymous with autumn and can brighten any garden, patio, or window box that is weary from the summer heat.

Fall mums are great for decorating as they can be paired with straw, pumpkins, and cornstalks creating an instant fall display.


A white fall mum with flowers just starting to open
Buy mums when the flower buds are just starting to show color

The Best Time to Buy Fall Mums

The best time to buy fall mums is approximately 2 weeks before you would like them to be in full bloom for your fall display.

That’s assuming you buy mums that haven’t fully opened yet.

Fall mums start appearing in garden centers and retail stores in early August.

The weather can be extremely hot at that time and maintaining mums in containers can be challenging in those temperatures.

Therefore, depending on the weather and your decorating needs, generally mid to late August is a great time to consider buying fall mums.

Adding a fresh mum to your display every 2 weeks is a tip to make your fall display look fresh the entire season.

Tips for Selecting Fall Mums

The first step in ensuring the longevity of your fall mum display is to pick a healthy plant.

Look for mums with unopened buds or just a few blooms showing, as this indicates a longer bloom time.

Choose plants with green, compact foliage, and avoid those with yellowing leaves or drooping flowers.

Mums that are sold in the floral department of a retailer are considered “florist mums” and are not the same as fall mums.

Florist mums are great for indoor use or decorative outdoor use but are not the best choice for growing outdoors.

Faded blooms are less noticeable on plants with darker flower colors (bronze, maroon, etc.), so they tend to look fresher and longer than those with brighter flowers (yellow, white, etc.).

an overhead photo of Burgundy colored mums
Mums with dark blooms appear fresher, longer

Proper Placement for Decorating and Planting Fall Mums

Whether displaying your fall mums as part of a fall porch display or planting them in the ground, selecting the right location is crucial for their well-being.

Ensure the area receives ample sunlight, preferably 4-6 hours a day.

Mums planted in the garden thrive in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

When displaying potted mums, place the pot on a sturdy and stable surface, such as a porch step or ledge, away from strong winds and heavy rainfall.

Follow these instructions to properly plant your fall mums in the ground.


Fall Mum Flower Buds
Fall Mum Flower Buds Starting to Open

How Long Do Fall Mums Last?

The bloom time for most fall mums varies from approximately 3-4 weeks from the time the buds open until the flower fades.

There are several factors that influence the speed and rate at which a flower fades.

Higher temperatures, wilt, wind, and any other environmental stress will cause the flowers to fade more quickly.

Conversely, cooler more favorable cultural conditions will extend the life of a flower.

That’s why we recommend purchasing mums when the buds are just showing color and when temperatures are a bit cooler to maximize the amount of bloom time for your fall display.

An overhead photo of violet mums in bloom
These fall mums should be in bloom for 3 weeks

Watering Fall Mums

Proper watering is essential for maintaining healthy mums.

Fall mums perform better if they don’t dry out and aren’t overwatered.

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Check the soil regularly, and when the top of the soil is dry, it’s time to water.

Mums growing in pots may need to be watered daily to avoid wilting.

Water the plants at the base to avoid wetting the foliage, as this can lead to fungal diseases.

Be mindful not to overwater, as mums are susceptible to root rot in waterlogged conditions.

A white watering can watering the soil of a yellow mum at the base of the pot
Water a mum at the soil level



Fertilizing Fall Mums

Fall mums purchased in late summer and early fall have been adequately fertilized by the grower and don’t need any additional fertilizer this growing season.

However, if you are growing mums in your garden that were planted last fall, fertilizing will encourage steady growth and abundant blooms.

Beginning in the spring, add either a slow-release fertilizer around the mums or fertilize with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two to four weeks.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and avoid over-fertilization, as this can cause leggy growth and less vibrant flowers.

Autumn Decorations with Fall Mums

Deadheading and Pruning

To promote continuous blooming and maintain a neat appearance, regularly deadhead spent flowers.

Use pruners or snips to remove the faded blooms just above a set of healthy leaves.

Additionally, remove any yellowing or diseased leaves to prevent the spread of issues to the rest of the plant.


a bag of Organic Potting Mix
If planting in pots, use a mix designed for containers

Protecting from Frost

As the fall season progresses, temperatures may drop significantly, especially during the night.

Although frost will not kill a fall mum, it may alter the color of the leaves and blooms making it less appealing.

If the fall mums are a part of your outdoor fall decor, you may want to protect them by bringing the potted plants indoors or covering them with a light fabric or frost cloth when frost is forecasted.

This precautionary measure can extend the life of your fall mums and keep them looking fresh.


Pests and Diseases

Monitor your fall mums for common pests like aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs.

If you notice any infestations, promptly treat the plants with appropriate insecticides or organic remedies.

Also, keep an eye out for signs of disease, such as powdery mildew or rust, and address them promptly with suitable fungicides.


How to Over-Winter Fall Mums in the Midwest

Fall mums (Chrysanthemums) are classified as perennials, but they are challenging to overwinter in the Midwest.

Therefore they are often considered annuals.

These tips will reduce the chance of winter damage and increase the likelihood of their return in the spring.

Plant fall mums in the ground in late summer to allow the roots time to become well-established.

They prefer a location that is mostly sunny (receives at least 6 hours of sunlight each day).

Water plants consistently and deeply throughout the late summer and fall until the first frost.

Leave all dead stems and blooms on the plant until spring.

After several hard frosts, cover the base of the mum with straw or evergreen boughs to provide insulation throughout the winter.

Avoid using leaves as mulch as these trap water and can cause mold and disease.

Snow is a great insulator that protects the mums from extreme cold.

Generally, mums tend to survive winters that have more consistent snow cover.

Dendranthema are plants that look very similar to mums, but they are more consistently winter hardy to zone 5.

They are available at local garden centers under the name of Igloo Mums and are a better investment if you want reliable fall color in your garden each year.

Click here for more fall-blooming flowers!


Pinterest PIN photo with text overlay: Tips to Grow Fall Mums

3 thoughts on “How to Keep Fall Mums Gorgeous All Season”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.