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I was always told garden mums don't come back but hardy mums do. I've never had a mum come back until this year, though, and I have no idea which type it was. I was at Aldi last year and they had a rack of mums marked down to $.99 b/c they looked dead--but just needed water! I took it home, watered it, and the next day had the most beautiful mum I've ever had! It was bright yellow w/ red in the centers of the blooms, so pretty. And it came back, I am so excited, it's just starting to bloom!
I think florist mums are strictly annual plants, and if planted in the garden, will not survive more than one season if planted in your garden. Hardy mums, on the other hand, are perennials and will come back in most zones, but even these may not be perennials in colder zones (4 or above). You may be able to find some mums in colder climates that will be able to tolerate the colder climtes. Check with your local nurseries or extension office.
They are two different varieties - florist mum and hardy or garden mum. Hardy mums produce stolons underground that enable the plant to reproduce and survive cold, florist mums don't produce stolons and are more like an annual. Hardy mums generally are grown outdoors in soil, florist mums are often greenhouse grown in containers. Hardy mums are sometimes tagged as "field grown".
Hardy mums usually have the button or cushion-type flower. The plants with the big spidery type flowers or fancier shapes and colors are generally greenhouse grown florist mums.
They can be a little tricky to grow outside but once established, garden mums do great. I've had the best results by planting them right away, in fairly rich soil, in sunny areas that are somewhat protected from harsh winds and ice.
Make sure the soil drains well, and that the plants are not crowded. Standing water on the foliage or roots can quickly cause the stems to rot. This, more than their cold hardiness, is often the reason they don't survive.
Don't cut them back after blooming, and give them a nice thick winter mulch of organic material such as pine needles, straw, or chopped leaves. When they start to show spring growth, push the mulch back a bit to give the stems air, and cut off last season's dead growth. From spring to early July, pinch back the tops of the growth, this produces a thicker plant and stronger buds for fall blooming.
It's often difficult to tell the difference, so just plant them all (or keep them in pots protected from freezing) and see what happens ... like jasper3975, you might get a nice surprise next spring!
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Mums marked "hardy" are the ones that come back. I have had good luck when buying smaller potted hardy mums and planting them in the garden as soon as I bring them home. They did eventually die off but after some 10 -12 years of giving me pretty autumn blooms. I have not had luck with hardy mums when I bought the large potted ones. I live in Zone 5.
Labrat wrote a very good Mums 101
rottensocksLabrat wrote a very good Mums 101
LOL Rsocks, Mums were my challenge. I could never get them to overwinter, neither could my Mom. What a shame, got so many as gifts or purchased, just to have them live for a month and die.
When I had my garden center, the local supplier explained the difference to me. Then I studied and experimented, and learned more about their care. Now they are scattered around my grounds, coming back every year. This is in one of my butterfly gardens, pic was from last September, this is now the plant's 4th season, it's grown even larger this year, filled with buds but not yet blooming - from starting out scrawny and crowded into a 4 inch pot ...
I think some of them (including this one) will need to be divided soon ... did you ever do that with your larger Mums? Any tips?
labrat_I think some of them (including this one) will need to be divided soon ... did you ever do that with your larger Mums?
I did divide one but neither survived so I did not try it again - quite possibly it did not like its new location - I took them from a protected area to an open area. What finally killed my mums was tiny beetles eating the roots. I discovered this when tidying up in the early spring and when clearing around the mums big tufts of the plant came away. I noticed tiny beetles scurrying about in the soil - they must have overwintered there and my mums were their winter larder. They took out all three of my mums which at that time were between 18 to 24 inches wide.
Good info, Rsocks, thanks!
I wonder if it was sow bugs? Those quiet little soil loving creatures seem to love to chew roots ... or, maybe the roots just get in the way of their foraging, not really sure which. I've seen them many times destroy an otherwise healthy plant from the bottom.
labrat_I wonder if it was sow bugs?
I googled them but they are not the culprits. The size is right but my little pests were not sedmented, solid black body and slim...aerodynamic is the word that comes to mind, to enable them to move easily through the soil. This spring I found they had destroyed three of my butterfly bushes.
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