When pumpkin spice lattes pop up on café menus, you know what that means: it’s time to plan your fall garden! And what’s the most popular plant for autumn gardens? Mums, of course! With their cheerful flowers in shades of yellow, red, orange, rust, white, purple, and pink, they’re a natural companion to scarecrows, pumpkins, and hay bales for a quick change in seasonal outdoor decor.
Why Plant Perennial Mums?
However, most mums only offer short-lived interest in the garden, becoming a quick addition to the compost pile as soon as the first frost arrives. These annual mums add color to the garden for a month or so but succumb quickly to freezing temperatures. If you plan to plant mums in your garden beds for a pretty autumn show, that’s a lot of effort and expense for a short-lived reward.
Instead, step up your fall floral game and add perennial mums to your garden design plans! With a wide range of colors and sizes available, perennial mums make both economic and aesthetic sense as the perfect addition to autumn gardens. Why not invest your time and money in long-lasting fabulous fall flowers instead of temporary, short-lived annual mums?
Best Perennial Mum Varieties
With 17 varieties in our Igloo Series of perennial mums, you’ll find the perfect addition for your garden beds, borders, or containers. Whether you’d like a traditional orange-rust colored display, like ‘Firedance Igloo’, a cheerful daisy flower, such as ‘Icicle Igloo’, or a bright burst of pink perfection with ‘Fireworks Igloo’, our Dendranthema Igloo Series offers perennial mums for every taste.
As truly hardy perennials in USDA zones 4-9, the Igloo Series boasts attractive green leaves that form uniform, rounded plants—without pinching. Flowers typically appear in September during the first year and a bit earlier in subsequent years. With plants completely covered in fluffy blooms for more than a month, you’ll love the unprecedented flower power that repeats each year.
No matter your autumn garden design plans, the Igloo Series offers colors and sizes perfect for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a larger plant for beds or containers, such as the 24-inch tall ‘Warm Igloo’, a mid-sized mum for pretty groupings, like ‘Brilliant Igloo’ (18-20 inch), or a plant for borders with loads of dainty button-sized blooms, such as ‘Dainty Pink Igloo’ (18-20 inch), you’ll find a wide selection of options for your garden designs.
When to Plant Perennial Mums
Although most mums appear in garden centers in early fall, these perennial beauties perform even better if planted in spring. While it may be a challenge to find them locally early in the year, you may want to order them from an online retailer. You can find our Dendranthema Igloo Series through online sources here.
However, cooler fall temperatures also offer a great time to plant perennial mums, but try to add them to your garden beds early in the season to give them plenty of time to establish strong roots before frost arrives. Check your expected first frost date and plant perennial mums six weeks before a killing frost arrives in your garden to give the plants time to settle in well before the cold nips at their blooms.
Where to Plant Perennial Mums
For best flowering, mums need full sun—at least 6-8 hours per day. However, in hot southern climates, morning sun with a bit of partial shade in the afternoon is ideal.
Perennial mums are photoperiodic—meaning that they bloom in response to shorter days and longer nights found in autumn (in the northern hemisphere). Because of this trait, don’t plant mums near artificial lights, as the lights may disturb the bloom cycle.
Choose a location with fertile, well-drained soil for your mums. Perennial mums prefer rich organic matter, so add compost into the garden bed if your soil is clay, sandy, or needs an organic nutrient boost. Mums like neutral to slightly acidic soil. Consider a soil test to ensure your soil suits the plants’ needs.
How to Care for Perennial Mums
Water newly planted mums regularly, but wait until the top 1-inch of soil dries out between waterings. Water the plants deeply to help roots become well established.
Feed plants in the spring after the last frost in your area. Perennial mums like nitrogen and potassium in the vegetative phase before buds form to promote healthy roots. A 12-6-6 slow release fertilizer is a good choice.
Some perennial mums require pinching to establish a pleasing shape. However, the Igloo Series is bred for uniform, rounded mounds—without pinching, saving you time and effort in the garden. You can skip this step with Igloo perennial mums.
Mulch newly planted perennial mums well prior to the first hard freeze in the fall to protect roots from soil heaving and cracking during cold months. In northern climates, it’s also a good idea to leave dead foliage on the plants until spring to help protect the crown of the plants from the cold. Wait until spring to prune perennial mums.
With so many colorful options, perennial mums offer the perfect addition to your fall garden. And, with a bit of planning, you’ll enjoy gorgeous autumn displays for years! Now, the biggest challenge is: will you choose classic fall colors or opt for bright blooms? Decisions, decisions…Enjoy!
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