The Q&A Archives: chrysanthemums

Question: Are all the mums sold in pots winter hardy?
I have had some in other years that did not come up in the spring.

Answer: Most mums will return in the spring if you mulch over the tops in winter. Here are the details:
Plant mums in late summer and throughout the fall when the selection is at its best. Choose a sunny location with adequate drainage ? mums will not tolerate ?wet feet.? Plant them carefully ? remove them from their pots and gently score (or rake) the rootballs to free the roots. Place them carefully in the ground, taking care to plant them no deeper than they were in their pots. Mums have surface roots and will suffocate if planted too deeply. Water with a transplant fertilizer, such as Dragon Plant Starter Solution?, to stimulate root growth.

After they bloom, remove the faded blooms, but don't cut the stems back. Don't try to move them now, even if you don't want them to stay where they are through the next growing season. Repeated freezing and thawing of the soil can heave plants out of the ground, exposing their roots to the elements. Newly transplanted mums are especially vulnerable to heaving. Well established plants and a layer of straw, pine boughs, or their springy material applied over the plants in late fall will help to minimize this problem. Lightweight mulching material will allow good air circulation, which is important.

When growth resumes in the spring, carefully clear away the mulch and remove any dead foliage. Now is the time to move them to a summer home, if necessary. Replant the clumps in good quality soil, which drains well ? this is essential for healthy mums. We recommend a dose of transplant fertilizer to stimulate root growth.

Mums, being surface feeders, appreciate fertilizer applied as a top dressing. About the end of May, scratch a granular fertilizer for flowering plants (such as GardenTone?) into the soil around each plant. Apply granular plant food every four or five weeks till August or supplement with water-soluble fertilizer throughout the late spring and early summer to encourage branching and bud formation.

Best wishes with your garden.

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