No fall landscape is complete without everyone’s favorite autumn-blooming flowers—mums! Growing chrysanthemums is simple, but the key to long-lasting color is selecting a great specimen and treating it with the correct care. Here’s your guide to growing fall mums in Iowa!
Types of Fall Mums
There are two varieties of mums you’ll typically find at garden centers; florist mums and perennial mums.
Florist mums, sometimes called decorative mums, are the mums you’ll typically see for sale in every storefront starting in mid-August. They are best grown as annuals and look spectacular in pots thanks to their dome-like mound of brilliant blooms.
Perennial mums are grown in garden beds with the rest of your perennials and come in a wide variety of bloom shapes, sizes, and colors—from single-flowered, daisy-like cultivars to ones with cushion-like double blooms.
In addition to the two varieties, there are also many different types of chrysanthemum blooms, each more interesting than the last:
- Single blooms resemble daisies with a single row of petals.
- Quilled blooms have long, needle-shaped petals.
- Spider blooms have very long, narrow petals like the legs of a spider.
- Anemone blooms have a cushion-like mound of petals that emerge from a disc-shaped center.
- Pom pom blooms look like, you guessed it, pom poms!
- Incurve blooms have long petals with a slight inward curvature at the edges.
- Reflex blooms, by contrast, have a slight outward curvature at the petal edges.
- Decorative blooms are a double flowering type and the most common flowers.
- Thistle blooms have petals that are long, very thin, and tube-shaped.
- Spoon blooms also have tube-shaped blooms but flatter, wider edges.
Planting Fall Mums
Both florist and perennial mums prefer full sun, with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight exposure per day. Some cultivars are moderately tolerant of partial shade, but insufficient light can lead to leggy plants and fewer or smaller flowers. Perennial mums also prefer to be planted in a bed of slightly acidic, moist soil with excellent drainage.
Caring for Your Fall Mums
If there’s one thing all mums have in common, it’s their appetite! Mums need to be watered every other day while in flower and require frequent fertilization with an appropriate formula for flowering plants. Perennial cultivars will also need a deep, thorough watering each week starting at the beginning of the growing season and more often as the temperatures rise. To encourage full, bushy growth, pinch back spent flowers whenever you notice them.
A Buying Guide for Fall Mums
Wherever you find mums for sale, the best value for money will be from a healthy plant that has barely begun to bloom. A low-cost pot of chrysanthemums may seem like a great deal, but clearance prices generally mean the plant is nearing the end of its bloom or the plant itself is unhealthy.
To get the longest-lasting fall color from your mums, choose a dense plant with perky, dark-green foliage and covered in tightly-closed flower buds. A few open buds are fine, but the more closed buds on the plant, the more blooms you’ll save for your garden beds or containers.
We also recommend checking the base of the plant, especially if you plan on interplanting your mums with other plants in your beds. It’s common to find mold, mildew, and other fungal infections on the mums the discount grocery stores put out for sale, and those infections can also spread and affect your other plants. We provide the best care for our chrysanthemums until the day you take them home to your garden, so you can count on quality mums with a healthy root system from Ted Lare Design & Build.
There is a great reason mums have earned their spot as the go-to fall flower—their glowing, warm colors and bounty of blooms bring pure joy to your autumn landscape. Discover our selection of fall mums for sale at our garden center in Des Moines!