Trick to get mums to come back every year: Plant them now

Garden mum 'Antica Bronze'
Garden mum ‘Antica Bronze’. Photo courtesy Ball Horitcultural
garden mum plants at Waterman's in Springville NY
The garden mum plants are bigger than this now (this photo was taken a couple weeks ago). Still, they’re not much to look at, but in the fall, you’ll be glad you planted mums. And you’ll be glad the following year when the mums come back again. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Can you get garden mums to come back year after year?

Yes, you can, said Ethan Waterman, manager of Waterman’s Greenhouse, 12316 Vaughn St. (Route 240), East Concord (Springville.)

“Planting them now is the trick,” Waterman said. “You can’t take a mum out of the pot in October and shove it in the ground and think it will come next year. You have to plant them now to get them established so they make it through the winter.”

Most of the mums that you buy already flowering in September and October are sold as annuals because it’s too late in the season to plant them; they won’t  make it through the winter.

To care for your garden mums, after the plant is done flowering, cut back the plant.

If you’re in Buffalo or the Northtowns, it should be easier for you to get these plants through the winter. If you’re in ski country, it may be harder, Waterman said, because some areas are in Zone 5 and microclimates (areas in your yard that might be different from the overall climate) might go down to Zone 4. (Find your gardening zone here.)

If you’re in ski country, Waterman suggests finding a protected spot for the plants, such as in a garden closer to the house. Also, after it has finished flowering and you’ve cut back the plant, cover it completely with bark mulch or leaves. Just remember where you planted your mums, he noted.

If you’re in the Northtowns, you might not have to mulch, but if we get a cold winter with no snow cover, you might lose plants. If you want to be on the safe side, Waterman said mulching could help.

Right now, these mums aren’t blooming, so many gardeners aren’t interested in them. But remember that you have other perennials in your garden that aren’t blooming now, probably because they bloomed in spring and are already done. If you want color in your garden into autumn, one way to do that is to choose perennials that bloom in autumn. These mums will bloom in September or October, depending on the variety and the weather.

Waterman’s carries 10 varieties of mums in several colors.

Do you need color in your garden right now? Pick up one of the huge hanging baskets of annuals that Waterman’s is known for. It’s a short drive into the country, and prices are lower than they are closer to the city.

huge hanging basket at Waterman's in East Concord NY
If you want color now, Ethan Waterman suggests getting one of the huge hanging baskets of annuals that his garden center is known for. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko








25 Comments on “Trick to get mums to come back every year: Plant them now

  1. I just had large mums from Lowes that I put in the ground here in Orlando and kept them deadheaded and watered and they came back and are bigger and prettier than last year. a nice surprise

  2. My son-in-law got me a beautiful purple mum and it’s huge in a potted container I have it in my house cause it’s so cold here and I don’t want it to die but it’s doing great in the house and my question is will it be ok in here for the winter ? I keep it watered and I get more flowers everyday ?

  3. I live northern east part I have a 12 inch Hocus Pocus mum will they come back if I plant it. Thanks Pam.

  4. Hi Katherine, as you read in the article, it depends on where you live, etc. You can also take a look at this article for more information: Should you treat mums as annual or perennial? You might also want to go back to the garden center for more information on the particular plant you bought. (Plants that are perennials are supposed to come back each year; annuals must be re-planted each year.) I hope that helps.

  5. I just bought mums and planted them. They are already fixing to bloom. The tag says perrinials but will these return after they die out or not I thought all perennials domt come back but I read all mums can if you plant them at certain times

  6. Kate, that’s wonderful! Maybe that will work for gardeners in Western New York, too. I wouldn’t know; the rabbits eat mine.

  7. I live in zone 5, Ontario Canada and would always remove my fall Mums and buy new ones the next year. A few years ago we had an early snow and I didn’t remove them. ALL 10 of them come back with gusto and are doing great. They were a bit leggy so a month ago I cut them back to about 5 inches and they have bushed out. It’s great I will never have to buy mums again! Don’t cut them back, as soon as the risk of frost is over you will see new growth and that is when I remove the dead stalks. I think leaving them provides protection.

  8. You certainly do offer a beautiful variety of flowers-especially those hanging baskets… Gorgeous!

  9. Because this is officially my first year gardening with chrysanthemums, I want to ask a question (specifically in regards to mums surviving winter via greenhouse) -however, I have a pretty good feeling I know what answer you’ll provide me with.

  10. Yesterday I bought some beautiful expensive mums. They are in their pots on the steps. I would hate to see them perish since I live in Brooklyn, NY and the freeze is coming. Can I bring them indoors and if so, at what point please?

  11. Whenever you have a question about what is wrong with your plant, it’s best to contact the extension service in your county. I hope that helps.

  12. I’ve had a couple mums in my back yard for a couple years now an they were huge and healthy last year. This year, I’m yet to see any evidence that they are still alive. I go out every day hoping to see a tiny green leaf or any sign of life but notta. I’m still hoping they might just still be in hibernation but considering we are in early June, I’m having my doubts. I live in Pennsylvania if that means anything.

  13. We bought 4 pots of the Fall baby mums last year, and they’re still in their pots. I live in Portland Oregon. Are they dead, or van I survive them ?

  14. I am in utter shock!!!
    I love mums and I bought my first BIG beautiful red ones last fall. They didn’t last long and I got mad at them. I took them out to the woods and dumped them out of there pots and cried a lil, not really but I wanted to. I just now, March 10th, took some leaves out back and what do you know, MY MUMS HAVE GORGEOUS LITTLE GREEN LEAVES GROWING!!! What do I do?

  15. We purchased a new house that had snowball mums in the center of some landscaping off of our stone patio. They are brown and sticks right now. Do they come back as a perennial? Do I need to trim down the brown sticks now that winter is over? (I live in Illinois). I think the realtor said they were snowball mums (which were planted in August) I cant find any information telling me about these mums. Help please.

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