How To Plant Mums In Fall [ Full Guide ]

Mums, also known as chrysanthemums, are a popular choice for fall planting, adding vibrant colors and beauty to any garden or landscape. Planting mums in the fall ensures a strong, healthy start for the following spring. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know about planting mums in the fall, from the importance of fall planting to selecting the ideal location and preparing the soil. You’ll also discover how to choose the right mums and ensure they thrive, providing a stunning display of color in your garden.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Mums In Fall

Planting mums in the fall requires selecting a suitable location with well-draining soil and full sunlight, prepping the soil by amending it with organic matter, and choosing the right mums for your climate and garden aesthetics. Once the location and soil are prepared, mums can be planted, ensuring they receive adequate water and fertilization to establish strong root systems before winter sets in.

Importance Of Fall Planting For Mums

Fall planting is crucial for mums as it allows them to establish their root systems before winter, providing a foundation for robust growth in the following spring. Planting mums in the fall also helps them acclimate to their new environment, reducing the risk of transplant shock and increasing their chances of winter survival. Additionally, fall-planted mums have ample time to develop strong roots, ensuring they are well-prepared to withstand the challenges of winter, including freezing temperatures and potential frost.

Selecting The Perfect Location For Fall Mums

When planting mums in the fall, it is essential to select the perfect location to ensure their success. Look for an area that receives full sunlight for at least six hours per day, as mums thrive in bright, sunny conditions. Ensure the selected location has well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues.

It’s also important to consider the aesthetic appeal of the location, as mums are often chosen for their stunning display of colors. Whether you’re planting in a garden bed, container, or as part of a landscape design, consider how the mums will complement other plants and elements in the area. Selecting a location with good air circulation can also help prevent diseases and ensure the overall health of the mums.

Prepping The Soil For Mums

Preparing the soil is a crucial step in ensuring the success of fall-planted mums. Start by testing the soil pH to determine if any amendments are needed. Mums prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.5 to 6.8. If the soil pH is outside of this range, you can adjust it by incorporating lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower it.

Once the soil pH is optimal, it’s important to improve the soil’s texture and fertility. Add organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure, or peat moss to the soil to improve its structure, drainage, and nutrient content. This will provide a favorable environment for the mums’ root development and overall growth.

Incorporating a balanced, slow-release fertilizer into the soil can also provide essential nutrients for the mums. Choose a fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio, such as 10-10-10, and mix it into the soil according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Choosing The Right Mums For Fall Planting

Selecting the right mums for fall planting involves considering several factors, including the climate, desired colors, and growth habits. When choosing mums, consider the following:

Climate Compatibility

Different mum varieties are suited to specific climate zones. Ensure the mums you choose are compatible with your local climate to ensure their ability to thrive and survive through winter. Consult with local nurseries or gardening experts to determine the best mum varieties for your region.

Flower Colors And Styles

Mums are available in a wide range of colors and flower shapes, including daisy-like, button, or decorative styles. Consider the desired color scheme and aesthetics of your garden or landscape when selecting mum varieties. Some popular colors include yellow, red, orange, purple, and white, offering an array of options for creating stunning visual displays.

Growth Habits

Mums exhibit different growth habits, including bushy, compact, and trailing forms. Consider the available space and design of your planting area when selecting mum varieties with compatible growth habits. Some mums are suited for ground planting, while others thrive in containers or hanging baskets, offering versatile options for incorporating mums into various settings.

Established Plants Vs. Starters

When fall planting mums, you can choose to start from seeds, though this requires a longer lead time and careful management. Consider opting for established plants or mum starters from nurseries or garden centers, as these offer a more immediate display and ensure a higher success rate for fall planting.

Planting mums in the fall is a rewarding endeavor that can yield stunning displays of color and beauty in your garden or landscape. With proper preparation of the soil, selection of the ideal location, and choosing the right mums for fall planting, you can set the stage for healthy, resilient mums that will thrive through the fall and into the following spring. By understanding the importance of fall planting, prepping the soil, and considering the climate compatibility, flower colors, and growth habits of mums, you can ensure a successful and vibrant display of mums in your outdoor spaces. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or new to fall planting, following these comprehensive guidelines will help you create a visually captivating and thriving display of mums in the fall.

Preparing The Mums Before Planting

Fall is a wonderful time of the year to adorn your garden with vibrant and colorful mums. These hardy flowers not only add a pop of color to your outdoor space but also thrive in cooler temperatures. Planting mums in the fall allows them to establish their roots before the harsh winter kicks in, ensuring a healthy and beautiful display the following year.

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Before you start planting your fall mums, it’s essential to properly prepare them to ensure their success. Here are a few steps to follow before transferring them to your garden:

1. Choose Healthy Mums: Selecting healthy mums from a reputable nursery or garden center is crucial for your plants’ success. Look for mums that have sturdy stems, vibrant foliage, and no signs of disease or pest damage. Avoid plants that appear weak or have wilted leaves.

2. Repot if Necessary: In some cases, the mums you purchase might be root-bound or overcrowded in their pots. If this is the case, gently remove them from their containers and loosen the roots before planting them. This will help the roots establish themselves in the new location more easily.

3. Prune the Mums: If your mums have grown leggy or have any dead or damaged foliage, it’s important to prune them before planting. Using sterile pruning shears, trim back any long stems, removing about 1/3 of the plant’s overall size. This will encourage new growth and a fuller appearance.

4. Amend the Soil: Mums prefer well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH level. Amend your garden soil with compost or well-rotted manure to improve the drainage and add nutrients. This will provide a favorable environment for the mums to establish their roots.

The Best Time To Plant Fall Mums

Choosing the right time to plant your fall mums is crucial for their long-term success. It’s important to give the plants enough time to establish their roots before the ground freezes. The ideal time to plant fall mums is generally six to eight weeks before the first expected frost date in your area.

In most regions, this translates to late summer or early fall. However, it’s worth checking your local climate and frost dates to determine the best time specifically for your area. Planting too early may result in elongated growth due to warm weather, while planting too late may not give the roots enough time to establish before winter.

Planting Fall Mums: Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you have prepared your mums and determined the best planting time, it’s time to get them into the ground. Follow these step-by-step instructions for successful planting:

1. Choose the Right Location: Mums thrive in full sun, so choose a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Make sure the area has well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging.

2. Prepare the Soil: Before planting, loosen the soil in your chosen location. Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris, and use a garden fork or tiller to break up compacted soil. This will create a loose and friable texture, allowing the mums’ roots to penetrate and establish themselves easily.

3. Dig the Hole: Dig a hole that is wide enough to accommodate the root ball of the mum plant. The hole should be slightly larger than the container size but not too deep. The top of the root ball should sit level with or slightly above the surrounding soil.

4. Place the Mum in the Hole: Gently remove the mum from its container. If the roots are tightly tangled, loosen them with your fingers or a small garden tool. Place the mum in the prepared hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil surface.

5. Backfill the Hole: Slowly backfill the hole with the loosened soil, gently pressing it around the roots to eliminate any air pockets. Ensure that the plant remains upright during this process. Once the hole is filled, lightly firm the soil with your hands.

6. Water the Plant: After planting, give the mum plant a thorough watering. This will help settle the soil around the roots and ensure proper hydration. Water deeply until the soil is moist, but not waterlogged. It’s important to maintain adequate moisture for the first few weeks to help the roots establish.

7. Mulch the Area: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the newly planted mum will help conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch, such as shredded bark or straw, around the base of the plant, leaving a small space around the stem to prevent rot.

Watering Fall Mums

Proper watering is essential for the health and vigor of your fall mums. While they can tolerate some drought, it’s important to ensure they receive adequate moisture, especially during the establishment period. Here are some watering tips to keep your mums thriving:

1. Monitor Soil Moisture: Check the soil moisture regularly by inserting your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry at this depth, it’s time to water. Avoid overwatering, as excessively moist soil can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases.

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2. Water Deeply: When watering, aim for deep watering sessions rather than frequent shallow watering. This encourages the roots to grow deep into the soil, making the mums more resilient and less prone to drought. Water at the base of the plant rather than overhead to minimize wet foliage, which can lead to disease.

3. Adjust Watering Based on Weather: Tailor your watering schedule based on the weather conditions. During periods of rainfall, you may need to reduce or even skip watering sessions. Conversely, during extended dry spells, you may need to provide supplemental water to compensate for the lack of natural precipitation.

4. Avoid Overhead Watering: As mentioned earlier, overhead watering can lead to damp foliage, which increases the risk of fungal diseases. If possible, water at the root zone using a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system. This ensures that the water reaches the roots directly and minimizes splashing onto the leaves.

Planting mums in the fall can bring vibrant colors and beauty to your garden. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your fall mums thrive and provide a stunning display year after year. Remember to choose healthy mums, prepare them properly before planting, and select the right time to plant. Follow the step-by-step instructions for planting and provide adequate watering to help your mums establish their roots and flourish. With a little care and attention, your fall mums will reward you with an explosion of color and beauty in your garden.

Mulching Fall Mums

Mums, also known as chrysanthemums, are popular fall blooming flowers that can bring vibrant colors to your garden. These hardy perennials are easy to grow and can add a burst of color to your landscape when other plants may be starting to fade. Planting mums in the fall ensures that they establish their root system before winter and produce beautiful blooms the following year.

Proper mulching is essential when planting mums in the fall, as it helps to regulate soil temperature, conserve moisture, and prevent weed growth. Here are the steps to mulch fall mums effectively:

  1. Choose the Right Mulch: Opt for a lightweight and organic mulch such as straw, shredded leaves, or wood chips. Avoid heavy mulches like pebbles or decorative stones which may inhibit water and air circulation.

  2. Prepare the Soil: Before mulching, prepare the soil by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil by turning it with a garden fork or tiller. Mums benefit from well-drained soil, so consider adding compost or organic matter to improve soil fertility and drainage.

  3. Apply the Mulch: Once the soil is prepared, spread a layer of mulch around the base of the mums. The mulch should be around 2-3 inches deep. Take care not to pile the mulch directly against the stems of the plants, as this may cause moisture-related issues.

  4. Extend the Mulch: Extend the mulch beyond the dripline of the mums, which is the outer edge of the foliage. This extra layer of mulch will protect the roots from freezing temperatures and help retain moisture.

Care And Maintenance For Fall Mums

Proper care and maintenance are crucial for ensuring healthy growth and abundant blooms in your fall mums. Here are some essential tips to follow:


Regular and consistent watering is vital for the overall health of mums. While they can tolerate some dry conditions, it’s important to keep the soil moist, especially during the first few weeks after planting. Follow these watering guidelines:

  • Deep Watering: Water deeply, ensuring that the moisture reaches the plant’s root zone. Shallow watering can lead to weak root development.
  • Frequency: Water mums once or twice a week, depending on the weather conditions. Adjust the frequency during rainy or dry periods.
  • Avoid Overwatering: While mums need moisture, overwatering can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out slightly between waterings.


Mums benefit from regular feeding to promote healthy growth and increase flower production. Follow these fertilizing guidelines:

  • Timing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer when planting the mums in the fall. This will provide nutrients to the plants throughout the growing season.
  • Additional Feedings: If you want to encourage more blooms, fertilize every 6-8 weeks during the growing period. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Avoid Late-Season Fertilization: It’s best to stop fertilizing by mid-summer to allow the mums to harden off before the winter.

Pinching And Pruning

To achieve bushier, fuller mums with more flowers, pinching and pruning are essential. Here’s how to do it:

  • Pinch Back New Growth: When the mums have grown around 6 inches tall, pinch back the new growth by about an inch. This encourages branching and prevents the plants from becoming leggy.
  • Repeat Pinching: Repeat the pinching process every 2-3 weeks until early summer. This will promote more lateral growth and increase flower bud formation.
  • Pruning: In early spring, prune the mums by cutting back the old stems to around 4-6 inches from the ground. This will help rejuvenate the plant and encourage fresh growth.

Winter Protection

To ensure the survival of your mums through the winter months, it’s important to provide them with adequate protection. Follow these winter protection measures:

  • Insulate with Mulch: Apply a thicker layer of mulch (around 4-6 inches) once the ground has frozen. This will help insulate the roots and protect them from freezing temperatures.
  • Cover with a Frost Blanket: If your region experiences severe frost or freezing winds, cover the plants with a frost blanket or burlap to provide extra protection.
  • Avoid High Moisture Areas: Plant mums in well-draining soil and avoid areas prone to waterlogging during the winter, as this can lead to root rot.
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Common Issues And How To Deal With Them

Despite being hardy plants, mums can face a few common issues that may affect their growth and appearance. Here are some common problems and how to deal with them:

Pest And Disease Control

  • Aphids: These tiny insects suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to curl and distort. Spray affected plants with a strong jet of water to dislodge the aphids, or use an insecticidal soap according to the package instructions.
  • Spider Mites: Spider mites are very small and often go unnoticed until they cause severe infestation. Use an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to control these pests.
  • Powdery Mildew: This fungal disease appears as a white powdery coating on the leaves. Ensure proper air circulation around the plants and avoid overhead watering to minimize the risk. Apply fungicides labeled for powdery mildew, if necessary.

Floppy Stems

Mums with weak or floppy stems may require support to keep them upright. Consider providing support using stakes or cages. Install them early in the season to avoid damaging the plant’s roots.

Bud Drop

Bud drop occurs when the flower buds fail to open and drop off the plant prematurely. It can be caused by various factors, including environmental stress, lack of sunlight, or excessive fertilizer. Ensure that your mums receive adequate sunlight, consistent watering, and do not overfeed them to mitigate bud drop.

Root Rot

Overwatering or poorly draining soil can lead to root rot, which manifests as wilted or discolored leaves and a general decline in the plant’s health. To prevent root rot, ensure the mums are planted in well-drained soil and water them only when the top inch of soil feels dry.

Harvesting Mums For Indoor Display

If you want to bring the beauty of mums indoors, you can harvest them for cut flower bouquets. Here are the steps to harvest mums for indoor display:

  1. Choose the Right Time: Harvest mums in the morning when the flowers are in their prime. Look for flowers that have just begun to open fully but haven’t started to wilt or fade.

  2. Cut Stems: Use sharp pruning shears or scissors to cut the stems. Cut them at an angle to maximize water uptake. Leave enough stem length for arranging and ensure that each stem has several sets of leaves.

  3. Remove Excess Foliage: Strip off any leaves that will be below the water line in your vase. This prevents bacterial growth and helps the flowers last longer.

  4. Place in Water: Immediately after cutting, place the stems in a clean vase filled with lukewarm water. Add fresh flower food to the water to extend the vase life.

  5. Change Water Regularly: Replace the water every two to three days to keep it fresh and bacteria-free. Recut the stems at an angle each time to promote water absorption.


Planting mums in the fall can reward you with beautiful blooms that add a touch of fall color to your garden. By following the steps outlined in this guide, such as proper mulching, care and maintenance, dealing with common issues, and even harvesting them for indoor display, you can ensure the health and vigor of your fall mums. Enjoy the vibrant colors and the beauty these hardy perennials bring to your outdoor space year after year.


What Type Of Soil Is Best For Planting Mums In The Fall?

Mums prefer well-drained soil that is slightly acidic with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8. You can improve the soil by adding organic matter such as compost or aged manure before planting.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Mums In The Fall?

It is best to plant mums in the early fall, at least six weeks before the first frost. This gives the plants enough time to establish their roots before winter.

How Far Apart Should Mums Be Planted?

When planting mums in the fall, space them about 18 to 24 inches apart to allow enough room for the plants to spread and grow.

How Much Sun Do Mums Need?

Mums need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to thrive. However, in hotter regions, they may benefit from partial shade to prevent them from wilting in the intense heat.

Do Mums Need To Be Watered Regularly After Planting In The Fall?

Yes, mums need consistent moisture, especially when first planted. Water them deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions, to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Be sure to water at the base of the plant rather than overhead to prevent fungal diseases.