Thursday, September 21, 2006

Apple #197: Potted Mums

In the fall, my mom always bought flowering mums and put them on the front porch, along with pumpkins or other various fall-ish decorations. Twice now, I've tried to do the mum thing myself and both times, my mum plants died within a week. I water them, and the water all runs out the bottom of the pot. So I figure, maybe they don't need that much water. Two days later, they're dried up and dead. What's the deal?

You can buy mums like these from Gro-Moore Farms in Henrietta, NY.

  • Chysanthemums, or mums for short, bloom naturally in the fall. They can be forced to bloom in greenhouses any time of year, but fall is their true time.
  • The Chinese are the first known people to grow Chrysanthemums (what didn't they do first?), as far back as 15 centuries B.C. They believed that mums contained the power of life. So what does this mean for me, who can't keep a mum alive as long as a week?
  • According to the garden experts, the most important thing is to give potted mums lots of water.
  • They like to be watered best from the bottom, so put a pan of water under the pot and let it soak for about 20 minutes. Make sure you don't forget to take the pot out of the water because if you let it sit for too long, the roots will rot.
  • Even though potted mums need more water than most plants in the ground, you want to make sure they need the water before you give them more. This means the soil needs time to dry out before you water. A good way to tell if the soil is dry is to pick up the plant in its pot and see if it feels light.
  • If the leaves have gone limp and turned yellowish green, and the blooms are relatively small, you've probably let it go too long without watering.
  • Potted mums also need lots of sun. They like it best in full sun. Even a half-shady place will keep them from blooming their best.
  • My mom also told me that she plants hers once she gets them home. I don't think this is exactly accurate because I distinctly remember potted mums on the porch, but she says that's what she does with them and that's how she gets them to stay alive longer.
  • There are lots of tips on many websites about what to do when your mum has stopped blooming and you want to plant it so it will stay alive and bloom again the next year. My mom says that when she tries this, it usually doesn't work; the plant doesn't survive the winter. Since she's a far, far better gardener than I am, I'm going to go by her word and just try to get my stinking potted mums to live long enough in the fall so I can enjoy their blossoms.

(Photo from Better Homes & Gardens)

P.S. Don't forget to tell me your top five favorite Apples!

P. Allen Smith, Magnificent Mums
Groth's Gardens, Mum Guide
University of Missouri Extension, Care of Flowering Potted Plants


  1. Who's the rock star of the Dewey Decimal system? Do they still use the Dewey Decimal system? Maybe a good subject for An Apple a Day.

  2. Hi! I've also read that mums can be forced to bloom by shortening the day light. Have you tried this on your mums? I'm kinda experimenting on it.

  3. Nice Blog! Well most of your content and image is original and informative. /many thanks for sharing this, cheers.

    Potted Plants


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