Do Mums Like Full Sun?


Most people who buy mums are buying them in full flower in the fall.  Most people are not adding as a permanent addition to their perennial garden.  They are just using them for some color, like an annual. But there a few tricks to them looking their best, the longest.

STOP Putting Your Mums in the Sun, This Is Why!

For your best, potted chrysanthemum displays, keep them in the shade, and never let them dry out completely.  There is a bit more to it than that, let me explain.

Annuals stay for months and months, continuing to make new flower buds all growing season.  For annuals, yes, you need to give them the proper amount of sun to grow and thrive to enjoy.  

However, mums are not annuals.  They will not continue to put on a massive show of bloom after the current display has passed.  

Think of mums more like long-lasting cut flowers.  If you are wanting to add mums to your perennial garden to come back each year, plant them in the spring, and plant varieties specific for your garden, and plant in the sun. 

The color-packed displays sold at every garden center, flower shop, and street corner are bred specifically for one thing, and one thing only. A massive display of color, this one time.  They are not chosen to thrive in your perennial garden, or for robustness, or even for winter hardiness. Put in the shade for the longest-lasting display,  

How to care for potted mums:

Light

These can be in the sun or shade.  HOWEVER, in the sun, they will mature and the flowering time will be much shorter than in the shade.  The cooler temperatures help slow down the process, and will not need nearly as much water as if the mums are in the full, hot sun.

So, keep something else in the sun until the temperatures cool down in the fall, such as red grasses and herbs that need that full sun to look their best.  

For longest-lasting mums, don’t even buy and put out until your temperatures have reliably cooled down.  You do not want to expose them to frost, but if you want to be wearing sandals and shorts, it is too hot to expect your mums to last their longest.

Water

If a mum gets dry enough to wilt, the amount of time it will flower and look great is cut in half.  Will it pop back up after watering? Yes, but that mum will not look great nearly as long as a mum that never wilted.

This is the number one reason why mum bought from a garden center generally last longer than ones bought from a big box store.  Traditionally garden center employees are trained on mum care. You can find an educated and caring person working in a big box store plant department, but even they get a day off, then on that day, the watering might be put off and not done until they notice that the mums are wilting.  And they do pop back up, so why does it matter? You know it matters in the length of pretty blooming time. Now you know why dedicated garden centers mums thrive so much longer than others.

Now you know how to make your last so much longer than your neighbors.  Or, even better, you shared this article with your neighbor and you both know.  All the better for everyone 🙂

Mums want to be evenly moist.  This is not a plant that wants to dry down between waterings, no, mums want to be evenly moist.  Note that I said moist, not saturated, sopping wet, moist. They do NOT want to be sitting in a pool of water, you drown the roots, and root rot will set in. 

A great way to do this is with either self-watering pots or automated watering. 

Toni colgrove, Horticulturist

Check out my favorites here, and here.

Very important to remember.  A white (or any color) fall, mum, you see at the stores in Late August IS NOT the same as a white mum you see in the store in October or even September.  These plants are most likely DIFFERENT varieties of mums. Or at least a different batch set to flower later through temperature and/or day length manipulation.

Do not kick yourself for letting yours go, because look here, the same white mum is looking glorious and yours has faded (or worse).  Neither the sellers nor the growers kept that batch of mums looking fresh and spiffy for months. Keep in mind there are Early-season, Mid-season, and Late-season mums.  That is the secret.

To pick the best plants for your conditions every time, click here.

Related Questions

How do commercial growers maximize flower displays?

Commercial growers manipulate the temperatures and day/night lengths very purposefully for starters.  Then they do several pinches to the mum’s growth at a couple of stages. They may use growth regulators to keep them short.  

How you can maximize floral display in your perennial garden permanent chrysanthemums:

To recreate this as perennials in your garden, you can’t control the timing of flowering, because you can not regulate temperatures and day lengths in your garden, but you can pinch them to maximize branching.  The more branches = more flowers. This usually means shorter plants as well, but full. This is where you want your mums in the sun when you are planting them as part of a perennial, come back every year, mixed border.

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