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October 27, 2018

Question I always thought mums were annuals and pulled them after it got cold.  A friend told me they would come back every year so I left them in the ground.  This year they grew about four feet tall.  Last year when I bought them they were short and full of blooms.  This year they have grown so much that they are falling over under the weight of the blooms, and there is very little foliage towards the base of the plant.  Needless to say they are not as attractive as they were last year.  What did I do wrong? I would like to keep them for another year but I want them to look good.  What should I be doing to prevent them from getting so tall next year?  


AnswerChrysanthemums or mums for short, are perennials, but many gardeners treat them as annuals.  If you are growing them as a perennial, dig and divide them in the spring.  To keep them compact, they need to be pinched back to a height of about 4-6 inches from the time they begin growth in the spring until mid-July.  This will keep them compact and bushy.  As the days get shorter at the end of summer, they will begin initiating flower buds, and slow down on top growth.  This should give you blooms on short, compact plants.  Left unpruned they grow tall and top heavy. 


July 1, 2017


QuestionThere is this yellow thin vine wrapping itself around my mums.  I can't find where it’s coming from the ground.  I hate breaking off the mum but that is what I've been doing.  Is there anything I can kill the vine with without killing the mum? Maybe I should cut the mum back?  Any advice is appreciated.   


AnswerSacrifice your mums now, or at least that part that is wrapped in the vine.  The problem is a parasitic vine called dodder or love vine.  This annual vine germinates from seed, finds a host plant (it is fond of mums) and attaches itself to the plant.  At this point, it takes all of its nourishment from the host plant, and no longer has any attachment to the soil.  It starts out yellowish green, and as the season progressed it turns orange in color.  It has tiny flowers which form seeds which re-infest the garden the following year.  Destroying the plant as soon as you see it prevents it from blooming and setting more seeds.  A pre-emergent herbicide in the spring next year can help prevent it from coming back, but for now, eradicate!


June 1, 2017

QuestionMy mums are in full bloom.  Are they confused?  Will this hurt them for a fall display?   


AnswerChrysanthemums set flower buds in relation to short days and long nights.  These conditions occur naturally both spring and fall.  If we have a mild spring which we did, our mums get growing early, allowing them to have a set of flowers form in the spring.  If you prune them back after they finish this early display, they should bloom again this fall.  Enjoy these early flowers, then prune the plants back to within four to six inches of the ground.  Fertilize and keep watering.  Pinch them back weekly until late July so you can have a bushy full plant, then hold off on any more cutting to allow the plants to set more flower buds for fall



October 15, 2016

QuestionI recently found a huge mum that had four different colors in one pot. Is this unusual?  


AnswerLarge mum plants have numerous cuttings in the container to give them a full overall growth.  Some growers mix up the colors to give the multi-color effect.  It is actually four separate plants planted together in one pot.  Enjoy!  



July / Aug 2016


I have been told that I should be pruning my mums. What advice can you give concerning mums? What will happen to the blooms if I don’t prune them?



Mums should be pinched and or pruned weekly from spring until mid-July. This provides a full, bushy plant by bloom time this fall. If they are not pinched, they tend to be tall and ungainly when in bloom and often have little foliage at the base.  They usually are top-heavy as well, falling over under the weight of the blooms. There are a few varieties that don't get tall, and are more free branching on their own, but they are not the common varieties we see in home gardens.  How do they look now? Don't do any pruning after mid-July or you will impact the bloom time this fall, but if you plan to keep them as perennials plan ahead for next year. 

 November 7, 2015

QuestionWhat should we do with the nursery mums used in our fall decorations, throw them away or plant them?


AnswerAlthough the mums are perennial, most people treat them as annuals and toss them after bloom.  If you do plant them, just be aware that you need to keep them pruned throughout the next growing season to keep them full and bushy before they bloom next fall.  I think they take up too much space in the garden until they bloom in the fall.  The plants you can buy at local nurseries are so full and beautiful each year that I buy new ones every year

 November 2014


I have cut back old flowers of a potted gift mum. Is it too late to plant it here in Bentonville? If so, what do I do with it? It has tag reading hardy garden mum-bronze.


Answer Most garden mums, both potted and planted have been frozen back.  While chrysanthemums are considered perennials, I usually treat them as annuals, buying new plants each season.  If you want to plant, go ahead and do so, watering and mulching after planting.  They should survive the winter, and begin to grow again in the spring.  Then frequent pruning to keep them from getting leggy is advised until mid-July.  Then you can allow them to grow and set flower buds for the following fall.   Even though it is frigidly cold outside, hardy trees, shrubs and perennials can still be planted now if you are hearty enough to brave the cold!

October 2012

QuestionArkansas Gardener Central zone report October 2012


AnswerWe are all thrilled to put this summer behind us, and start moving forward. There are so many dead plants in landscapes across the state, that replanting is definitely called for. Fall is a great time to plant hardy trees and shrubs, perennials, spring bulbs and winter annuals. With trees, some it is quite apparent are dead, while others may have simply gone into early dormancy. You may want to wait until spring to assess if it is really dead or alive. Evergreen plants that are totally brown you can be sure are dead. If you know for certain a plant is dead, remove it now and consider replacement options. Prepare the soil well, plant, water and mulch. Hold off on fertilization until spring. Now is a great time to dig and divide spring and summer blooming perennials. There are also great perennial plants to choose from that can be planted now. By doing the work in the fall, we allow the roots to get established while the tops are dormant, and they will be in a stronger position by next growing season. Now is also a great time to seed wildflowers and many perennials including poppies, purple coneflowers, columbine, foxglove and the annual larkspur, Texas bluebonnets, bachelor’s buttons and cornflowers. What is in bloom in your garden? If you took care of your yard, you should have colorful perennials, shrubs and annuals now. Beautyberry (Callicarpa) is loaded with purple berries, and the foliage is turning a wonderful yellow. The burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is turning red, along with Itea and oakleaf hydrangeas. Roses are rebounding and the Knock-outs look particularly good. Perennials such as Toadlily (Tricyrtis), turtlehead (Chelone), Japanese anemones, and goldenrod (Solidago) are all blooming. The Hellebores are starting to put on new foliage growth for a winter bloom, and chrysanthemums and asters are readily available for instant color at nurseries. Summer annuals that survived the summer are still going, but if yours died, there are great options now at all nurseries, from pansies and violas, to snapdragons, dianthus, diascia, dusty miller, parsley, edible and ornamental forms of kale, cabbage, Swiss chard and beets. We can even find blooming petunias, callibrachoa and verbena now, which have been overwintering well and blooming through several light freezes. If your garden doesn’t have color in every season, you can quickly remedy the fall color now.       

August 2012

QuestionAbout the mums…..we have a bed of them and have cut them back twice and now they are flowering again. Is this a good time to cut them back or just to cut off the blooms? We also want them to bloom again in the fall.


AnswerMany of our plants are confused. It is too late to really cut back mums, but deadheading (cutting of the spent blooms) can encourage them to set more flowers for this fall.

July 2010

QuestionI have been told that I should be pruning my mums. What advice can you give concerning mums? What will happen to the blooms if I don’t prune them?


AnswerMums should be pinched and or pruned weekly from spring until mid July. This provides a full, bushy plant by bloom time this fall. If they are not pinched, they tend to be tall and ungainly when in bloom and often have little foliage at the base. They usually are top-heavy as well, falling over under the weight of the blooms. There are a few varieties that don't get tall, and are more free branching on their own, but they are not the common varieties we see in home gardens. How do they look now? Don't do any pruning after mid July or you will impact the bloom time this fall.

April 2007

QuestionWe put out several mum plants last fall and they are now emerging from the soil. I need to know about when to prune them back, how much etc. to get them to bloom without being leggy.


AnswerChyrsanthemums benefit from division every year or two. If the plants seem to have multiplied over winter, dig and divide them now. Keep pinching them back every few weeks to keep the plants full and bushy. By the middle of July, the plants should be full and rounded, and a height of four to eight inches tall. After that, just water and fertilize and let them set their flower buds for the fall display. I have to admit that I cheat and buy new plants every fall and then toss them after the bloom period. The growers in our state do a fantastic job of producing quality blooming plants and I don't have to mess with them all summer, nor give up the space in the garden long season.

October 2006

QuestionHow do I get my garden mums to grow in a nice compact global bouquet like you see them in the stores? Mine always grow back the next year to be tall scraggly plants.


AnswerChrysanthemums, or mums, require some care throughout the growing season to give you a nice mounded growth habit in bloom. They multiply rapidly and should be dug and divided every year--every other year in the least. Divide in the spring as they are emerging. The plants should be pinched back every two to three weeks during the growing season. By mid July, the plants should be no taller than six inches. Every time you pinch the plants back, they get bushier and fuller. After mid July, only water and fertilize. As the days begin to shorten in late summer to early fall, mums start producing their flower buds for a fall display. If you don't keep them pinched back, the plants become tall and leggy, and often fall over under the weight of the blooms. With the time and effort involved in producing beautiful mums, and the fact that growers do such a good job, many find it more convenient to let the nurseries grow the plants, and treat mums as annual fall color, buying new plants each season.

November 2005

QuestionLast year, I planted in ground a yellow garden mum. This year it is beautiful, grown to a 36" diameter mushroom, loaded with bright yellow blooms. If I wanted to sub-divide, what recommendations and when would you suggest?


AnswerMums would benefit from division every year or at least every other year. The time to do it is when they emerge in the spring. They multiply rapidly, and if too crowded will not bloom as well. Some of the newer Belgium mums will actually stay more compact during a growing season and won’t require the rigorous pruning of the older mum types. All will benefit from division in the spring, and keep an eye on the varieties you are growing. They should all be kept maintained to a height of no more than six inches by mid July, so that you have that mushroom effect or mounded bush, versus a gangly, leggy top-heavy mess.

April 2005

QuestionMy "mums" sprouting up now are about the 12th-l5th generation. Three years ago an isolated plant started dying off. However, it grows back every year. Last year all the others did the same thing. Black spots develop on the leaves and the stem dies. Now all are sprouting. I suspect a fungus. Would appreciate your expert advice on what it is and what is the cure.


AnswerMums benefit from division on an annual basis. I would dig them up now as they are emerging, divide and replant. Replant in several new areas, and compare their growth. Continue to pinch them back until mid July, and then leave them alone. If you see spots forming on any of the leaves, take a sample in immediately to your extension office. Since it is not killing the plants outright, it doesn't sound too serious, but we need to get a handle on it. Maybe renovation will help.


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