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Could you explain why some garden mums will winter over and some don't

Someone asked me this question and I told them that a garden mum is generally tough enough to survive the winter. Like roses, winter survival is not guaranteed. Greater variation in winter conditions make the mums more susceptible to winter kill. Severe freezing and thawing is more likely to kill a garden mum than continually frozen ground. Mulch can help. When plants are done blooming in the fall, do not cut back as was once recommended; they stand a better chance of surviving the winter if not pruned. Once the soil freezes, apply hay or evergreen mulch. When spring arrives, gradually remove the mulch from around the plants. It is important to remove the mulch as plants can smother once the weather warms. After your second year of bloom, it is wise to divide your garden mum clumps. This means you will have plenty of little plants to landscape another part of your garden or to share with friends. But just a word... try to remember what color and flower type they are when you move them. All mum plants at garden centers are hardy, meaning that they are perennials in most climates. However, if these plants are put in the ground from August on, most won’t make it through the winter in areas where temperatures dip into the single digits. The reason is that mums planted late in the season are near or at the flowering stage, and they don’t grow roots to sustain plants through the winter. All the energy is put into blooming. That is why mums are best planted in the spring. 

Any feedback from others?
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Posted 2016-11-05T03:22:50+0000  by Prince_Of_GardenHD02 Prince_Of_GardenHD02
Planting mums in the fall is perfectly fine and they will survive winter just about anywhere. There are things that people overlook that will make many fall planted plants not survive.

The first thing is that just because a perennial or deciduous plant has gone dormant or died back, doesnt mean that that you do not need to water it. When temperatures dip below freezing then the dry soil, which has air in it, can become as cold as the air. This means that if it is 5 degrees outside then so is the roots of your plants. Water is a great insulator because it is going to be 32 degrees even if it is 5 degrees outside.

Without mulch, soil temperatures of a watered garden will not be colder than 32 degrees which is acceptable to many plants. We use mulch as a blanket for the soil to keep the soil and roots even warmer. Mulch will still allow air to the roots of a plant, not smothering it like backfilling over a plant with dirt. Dirt will kill a tree or plant if planted 3 inches too deep or backfilled over 3 inches but 3 inches of mulch will not kill a plant because it allows air to the roots.

Posted 2016-11-06T14:07:25+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL



I would like add a bit to Ingars feedback:

I believe that people plant mums as a seasonal accent, they throw the lovely, giving, hardy plants in as a bit of color to pair them with pumpkins and create the perfect autumn stage. Most people treat them as disposable…a plant that will carry them through until Thanksgiving is done, and the Christmas decorations and holiday displays are set.

With that being said; I think that people do not plant chrysanthemums like they mean it…. or expect them to come back, basically the “whatever” plant…. if it comes back, fine…if not, that’s fine too!

I always instruct customers, when they ask about the hardiness, to put real effort into the planting of the mums in the garden if they wish for the plant to return next season.

Dig a generous hole, “tease the roots” * that is very important*!  Most hardy mums are field grown, they have spent their entire existence in a container and the root system is girdled, spiraling around the circumference of the pot, the pot-bound roots know no other way unless that are tease to expand out and find a real space in the earth.

Watering is essential once they are planted, because hardy mums in our, Home Depot garden departments, arrive in late August in the Northeast market, the plants endure crazy temperature fluctuations, some days will be in the 90* range, causing a fast evaporation, and a dry mum is…... certain death!


I encourage mulching after a well-watered mum is teased and planted, and then watered again once the mulch has blanket our hardy friends! The insulation factor from the extreme temperature changes in the Boston area help the mums withstand the duration of the long winter months.

Cutting back mums in the early winter is almost a natural occurrence here in the northeast; once the dry arctic air starts to blow, the top growth of the spent mum flowers becomes a sort of a tumbleweed, mother nature severs them at the soil level, (if they are well planted) leaving the perfectly tucked in mum root system to sleep for the long New England winter, while the flower head roll around the neighborhood. I always trimmed my mums back on the last day of leaf raking; it is just a personal preference, I think that the finished mum tops look to sad, I would rather have a clean finish to the season with mums, and cover the root system with mulch.

One more thing:  Well planted mums do come back, and warn your customers that they take up space, bloom-less, in the garden while they get ready to flower in the late summer-early fall. I instruct my customer to be on the watch for the upcoming mum heads, and then trim them back on, or during the week of the July 4th (easy to remember) so they do not bloom to early in the summer garden, and they flower right on que during the autumn season…. also if your customers just let them grow without an early season pruning the mums will grow tall, become unruly and may flop when the weather is wet!

I have to admit I never think of planting mums in the spring, mums are the flannel and corduroy of the green world to me, a welcome to the winter garden transition plant with their deep, rich harvest colors.

Spring chrysanthemums I do not particularly care for, most of the spring mums are “florist mums”, the color of Easter eggs, not to be planted outdoors, although we do get some small garden mums in the Home Depot garden department, they are not that popular, once again to be treated as a disposable early season annual. 

So to make a long comment even longer, if you plant hardy mums, in the autumn, plant them like you mean it they will come back slow and strong, just be ready for them!   Maureen
Posted 2016-11-08T15:41:15+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS
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