How to Grow Mums as Perennials (Annual vs Perennial Mums)

Growing mums as perennials can provide your garden with beautiful, long-lasting blooms year after year. While mums are often treated as annuals, with proper care, you can enjoy their vibrant colors as perennials. Here’s a guide to help you understand the difference between annual and perennial mums and how to grow mums as perennials successfully.

Understanding Annual vs. Perennial Mums

Annual Mums:

  • Often sold in the fall for seasonal decoration.
  • Planted for a single season of bloom.
  • Typically not cold-hardy and may not survive winter.

Perennial Mums:

  • Also known as hardy mums or garden mums.
  • Designed to survive winter and bloom year after year.
  • Require proper planting and care to thrive as perennials.

Steps to Grow Mums as Perennials

  1. Choose the Right Mums
    • Selection: Purchase hardy garden mums from a reputable nursery. Look for varieties labeled as perennial or hardy mums, such as ‘Sheffield Pink’ or ‘Clara Curtis’.
    • Avoid Fall-Only Mums: Steer clear of mums sold strictly for fall decoration, as they are often not intended for perennial growth.
  2. Planting Location
    • Sunlight: Select a location that receives full sun, at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
    • Soil: Ensure well-draining soil. Amend with compost to improve fertility and drainage.
  3. Planting Time
    • Ideal Time: Plant mums in the spring or early summer to give them ample time to establish roots before winter.
    • Fall Planting: If planting in the fall, do so early enough (at least 6 weeks before the first frost) to allow root development.
  4. Planting Technique
    • Spacing: Space plants about 18-24 inches apart to allow for growth and air circulation.
    • Depth: Plant mums at the same depth they were growing in their nursery pots. Firm the soil around the roots and water thoroughly.
  5. Watering and Mulching
    • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water at the base to avoid wetting the foliage.
    • Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around the base to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and protect roots from extreme temperatures.
  6. Fertilization
    • Feeding: Fertilize mums with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring and mid-summer. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers, which can encourage foliage growth at the expense of blooms.
  7. Pruning and Pinching
    • Pinching: Pinch back the growing tips several times during the growing season (until July) to promote bushier growth and more blooms.
    • Deadheading: Remove spent blooms to encourage continuous flowering.
  8. Winter Protection
    • Insulation: In late fall, after the first frost, cut back the stems to about 6 inches and apply a thick layer of mulch to insulate the roots.
    • Additional Protection: In colder climates, consider additional protection with straw or evergreen boughs to shield against severe cold.
  9. Spring Care
    • Remove Mulch: As temperatures warm in the spring, gradually remove the winter mulch to allow new growth.
    • Check for Growth: Look for new shoots emerging from the base and begin regular watering and fertilization.


By selecting hardy varieties, planting at the right time, and providing proper care, you can grow mums as perennials and enjoy their vibrant blooms year after year. Follow these steps to ensure your mums thrive through the seasons, bringing lasting color and beauty to your garden.

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