It is getting colder and the plants are getting ready to sleep for a few months. That includes mums. The problem with mums in Iowa is that some are not hardy here.
There are two types of mums commonly available. Garden mums have underground shoots, or stolons, which enable them to survive from year to year…usually. Florist mums have few or no stolons and are easily killed over the winter. You can find florist mums almost all year in floral shops, department stores and grocery stores. Either way, chrysanthemums have a shallow root system and are especially affected by severe cold, repeated freezing and thawing, wet heavy soil and lack of snow cover.
Both types bloom in response to short days and long nights and require a specific amount of time under the short day growing conditions to set flower buds. In general, many garden varieties require 5 to 7 weeks to flower after the start of the shorter days and can take several light frosts. Florist mums need 8 to 14 weeks of short days and can have their buds destroyed by a hard killing frost if they are left outside before they can bloom .
This one is getting past it's prime this year.
You can plant garden mums in spring or fall, but spring plantings are much more likely to survive our winters. Plant the spring mums anytime from late April through May. If you buy a blooming plant in spring, more than likely, they have been forced to bloom. So after the flowers fade, prune the plant back to one-third to half of its flowering height and it should bloom again in the fall.
If you get a mum in the late summer for your fall color, plant them at least six weeks before a killing frost. That way they can get established.
This one seems perfectly happy staying in it's pot.
Here area a few things to increase the chances your mums will survive the winter:
-Select early-flowering cultivars that are known to be hardy for your area. The University of Minnesota has developed many cultivars that do well in Iowa.
-Avoid planting mums in areas subject to cold, dry north winds.
-Don’t prune the plants in the fall. They will survive the winter better if the old foliage is left standing through the winter. While the items I looked at didn’t mention why, I would guess it is because the upright foliage will catch the snow and create an insulated blanket over the roots.
-The best insurance for overwintering mums: mulching. It keeps the soil uniformly cold after it freezes so you don’t get the freezing and thawing and the resulting soil heaving. Put down 4-6 inches of straw, pine needles or other mulching material in late November or early December when the soil surface freezes. Leaves are not as good since they tend to pack solid when they get wet.
I have a few in the ground around the house, but I don’t really do anything with them.
One of our first mums. We threw it in the ground a few years ago and forgot about it. It seems to like where it is located. The yucca to the northwest of it helps provide some winter protection.
I may try to mulch the one in the front yard. The rabbits decided it was tasty and it isn’t very big, so it may need the extra help. Of course, I didn’t mulch it last year and it came back.
The yummy mum. I will try to mulch it to help it grow bigger next year.
Or you can put them in pots and leave them there. I have several in pots and one with three different kinds in one pot. I don’t remember planting them, but they are three individual plants in the one pot, so I must have shoved them in there when they were stunted in their previous pots.
There are definitely three different mums here. I may have to take them out and give them their own pots next year. Although, it looks pretty cool with different colors in the same pot.
When it gets too cold, or I am too tired, to drag them in and out of the garage for cold nights, I wrap them up in towels and blankets. I do not cut them back. I place an old thick blanket on the floor of the garage in front of where our truck gets parked. I wrap each pot with towels or blankets and place them on the bottom blanket. I have piled pots on top of pots, but I try to keep them from crushing the plants.
This is what it will look like when I am done putting the potted plants in their winter "bed". They seem to like it.
I also wrap up the Hen & Chicks and the succulents we have in the boots. This year I will wrap up our herb pot, too and see what happens next spring.
I give all the pots a drink of water each month. We have a two quart pitcher that I fill up with water and pour about a cup to a cup and a half into each pot. (I don’t measure, I just pour.) When it starts to warm up in the spring, and I am willing to move the pots in and out of the garage on cold nights, I will unwrap them, trim off the dead stuff and give them a good drink of water. I would recommend waiting to give them that thorough watering until you have them outside where they are going to sit for the day. They get a little heavy!
I'm not sure if this was a white one that is turning pink or a pink one that is turning white. Either way, it looks great sitting on the chair.
While I have lost a few mums even wintering them this way, chances are they were the florist mums and not the hardy ones. Most have survived and bloom again in the fall. Of course, I keep wanting to buy more. I see them at the stores and think, “Oooo. I don’t have that color”. Fortunately for Dwayne, I have managed to control myself. This year.
Posted under Fall Prep
This post was written by Eileen Loan on November 2, 2011