Mums are one of the most popular flowers you’ll see this time of year. Hardy mums are carried at almost every box store and farm stand and even supermarkets. Keeping garden mums helps to fill in empty spots left after the growing season has ended and most other flowers have wilted. Along with pansies and asters, mums are the heroes of the fall planting season. They continue to grow well after most other plants have slipped into dormancy and bring much-needed color to your yard.
If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like to throw away your plants once the winter months arrive you may be wondering how you can help your mums survive the winter.
The easiest way to keep your mum plants alive for next year is to bring the plants indoors. For potted plants this means cutting off the brown foliage and stems about 3–4 inches long above the soil, wrapping the pot, and bringing it inside to an unheated garage or shed. This area should stay between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit so that the plant can stay dormant. If your mum plants are in the ground you can move them to a pot before the ground begins to freeze or heavily mulch the ground around them. Be sure to add some potting soil and organic fertilizers to the pot so that your potted mum has a good start come spring.
In areas that receive slightly warmer weather, including New York, overwintering mums can be done outdoors as well. Heavy mulching can keep the roots from freezing and thawing again during the winter. This mulch can be straw, leaves, or even grass clippings. Remaining frozen during the winter is less damaging to your plant than freezing and thawing over and over. With the warmer winters we have been having this is more and more likely to occur. Your mums can even stay in the ground, provided that you give them enough mulch. Just be sure to cut off the dead stems and bury them in mulch shortly after the first frost.
By following these steps you’ll be able to keep using your mums year after year with the bonus that every year they’ll be bigger and lusher than the year before!