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How To Save Mums! Simple Secrets To Overwinter Your Hardy Mums

Did you know that with just a little bit of care, you can save your hardy potted and container mums to grow again next year? Talk about a serious savings to the pocketbook!

Mums are synonymous with fall decorating. Whether grouped with cornstalks and pumpkins, or simply left on their own, they bring autumn to life.

how to save mums
Mums are a great way to brighten up the autumn season with a whole slew of colors. Even better, most can be save to grow again next year!

But can they ever be expensive! Especially when you consider most are tossed to the curb at the end of the season – even though the large majority sold are hardy varieties that can be kept and grown from year to year.

Best of all, it’s not hard to do. In fact, with just a bit of care, you can overwinter hardy mums with ease. No matter if they were in pots, hanging baskets – or even planted in the ground.

The Secret To Saving Mums

Keeping your mums alive from year to year all starts with selecting the right mums at the time of purchase. There are two types of mums that are for sale in the fall – garden mums (hardy mums), and floral mums.

greenhouse plants
Selecting hardy or garden mums is a must when trying to overwinter. Floral mums, on the other hand, will not keep.

Garden mums are a true perennial, and with a little fall preparation, can be kept and grown year after year. With a hardiness from growing zones 5 to 9, it is these mums you want to purchase and save!

Floral mums on the other hand will not come back. With their shallow, tender roots, they simply do not have the root structure to withstand any cold at all. Once subjected to even the slightest of frost, they quickly succumb.

saving mums
Unlike garden mums, floral mums have shallow roots and are most often grown for sale in small, decorative container plants.

So how do you know the difference? For starters, the plants are often labeled as “hardy”, or as a garden mum. If you see this, you know they are good for saving.

But what if they are not labeled? Well, there are a few tell-tale hints that can help you know:

Smaller mums in small, shallow containers and planters tend to be floral varieties that are not suitable for saving. Floral mums also usually tend to have smaller blooms.

floral mums
Shallow planted mums with smaller blooms are usually a sign that the plants may be floral mums.

Meanwhile, larger mums in larger pots most often tend to be savable garden mums. It’s not a perfect science for sure, but a great starting point to know if the mums you are buying or have can be saved.

How To Save Hardy Garden Mums For Next Year

Now on to saving those mums! How to save your mums all depends on what they are in, and how you will be displaying them. Let’s first talk about mums in containers or baskets.

Saving Potted Mums

With potted mums, the first key is to never let them endure a freeze in their pot or container. Mums can survive light frosts and cold fairly easy, but a hard freeze can kill roots in pots permanently.

winter plants
Once potted mums have endured a hard freeze, their chances for surviving winter are slim.

Always move your mums to safety on nights with a freeze, or extremely low temperatures in the forecast.

When your decorating season is over, or when the temps simply become too cold, it’s time to move the plant to safety for good. And when it comes to potted mums, that means indoors for the first winter, and not outside in the ground.

Unfortunately, mums planted back into the ground in late fall have little chance for survival. Even with heavy mulching. They simply don’t have time to establish in the soil for protection.

cutting back mums
Cut mums back to within a few inches of the soil line before bringing indoors.

Before bringing indoors, cut the mum back a few inches above the potted soil line. Next, for best success, store in a cool corner of the basement or a semi-heated garage. The goal is to allow them to go dormant without freezing.

You will want to water them from time to time through the winter, but only lightly every few weeks.

Planted Mums

One side note about fall mums. If you purchased your mums in early fall and planted them in the ground for display, they can be left to overwinter. If they have a good 4 to 6 weeks before the first frost, the roots have most likely set.

When mums are directly planted in the soil in early fall, they can be kept in the soil for winter.

For these mums, do not cut back the foliage until spring, as it will help provide protection for the first winter.

What To Do With Your Potted Mums Next Spring – How To Save Mums

As the warmer temperatures of spring roll around, it’s time for action!

The easiest method is to simply plant your mums into the landscape. When the threat of frost has passed, you can plant them as you would any other perennial.

repotting mums
Repotting and reusing mums each year is a great way to save on the budget.

For overly large mums, this is also the time to split and divide them to create new plants. Simply cut apart into equal sections with a sharp knife or shovel and replant.

Be sure to keep plants well watered for the first few weeks to help establish them in the soil. Mums prefer rich, fertile and well draining soil, so adding compost when planting is a big key to success.

Repotting Mums In The Spring

If you want to instead regrow your mums in a pot or container again, you will need to re-pot them with new potting soil. This allows for plenty of nutrients for the season. ( See : Our Homemade Potting Soil Recipe)

soil for container plants
Using a high quality soil mix is a big part of success when repotting mums.

If the roots have grown too big for the same size pot, and they likely are, move to a larger vessel, or split and divide to allow room for root growth. Like with all container and basket plants, wait until the threat of frost has passed to pot up.

Summer Care – How To Save Mums

As your garden mums head into summer, you will need to pinch or cut off the blooms of your mums early on. This will keep the mums foliage tight and close, and allow the timing of the blooms for fall and not late summer. (See: How To Care For Mums In The Summer)

overwintering perennials
Pinching off blooms early in the summer will allow the mums to bloom for the fall season.

Remember that mums left in the landscape can be left there overwinter. But if you dug them up to pot them, you will once again need to overwinter indoors until next spring.

Here is to overwintering your garden mums and saving them for next year! Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary

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