Generally mums bloom September through November—when the days grow shorter—and stay vibrant for weeks.
Mums are most often thought of as seasonal potted plants, something to place on the porch to celebrate fall. But once the flowers fade, the plants wind up in the compost bin. Hardy mums like the Igloo varieties and ‘Sheffield Pink’, however, are tough enough to survive winters as far north as Zone 4 and have a loose, romantic growth habit that looks right at home in a planting bed. Put the plants in the ground now, and with the right care throughout the year, they’ll put on a colorful performance each autumn.
Plant in early fall to give roots a chance to establish before the ground freezes. Loosen the soil around their roots with your fingers, and plant in well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Water once a week through fall. Let the faded flowers and foliage remain on through winter. (Removing them may stimulate new
growth that wouldn’t survive winter.)
Protect plant’s roots from freezing temperatures with a thick layer of straw as mulch around the plant base.
After all chance of frost has passed, cut off last year’s stems at soil level.
Cut mums back to about half their height —go ahead, use hedge shears— around the Fourth of July to prevent them from getting lanky and flopping over. If you’ve planted one of the Igloo series, wait until after its first bloom to trim, then enjoy its second bloom in the fall.
To maintain healthy, vigorous plants, divide mums every few years. Dig up an established clump in spring after new growth has emerged. Separate into clusters and replant.
Igloo mums: geraniumrozanne .com. Other hardy varieties: avant gardensne.com.
SINGLE OR SEMIDOUBLE
Also called daisy mums, these perky flowers
have long petals surrounding a bright