Can You Overwinter Mums?

Chrysanthemums, known as mums for short, come in a variety of rich, saturated colors and are a sure sign that autumn has arrived. They’re available in just about every shade of the rainbow, don’t mind a little cold, and usually start blooming when the rest of your garden is looking tired and wilted. Even better, mums have few pests and are relatively easy to care for. We can pretty much all agree that mums are a fall garden must-have, but are they only meant for one season? Are they annuals or perennials? Can you overwinter mums?

I feel like we’ve all been sold that mums are annuals, which can be true if you live in an area with extremely cold winters. You typically think of getting new ones each fall for a splash of autumnal color; however, with some planning, you could increase your plants’ chances of surviving the winter.

Here in Southeast Virginia, as well as anywhere located in zones 7-9, we have warmer weather and can treat these lovely plants as perennials. Don’t toss your mums when they’re done flowering; they’ve still got plenty of life to live! In years where we do experience a harsher frost, it’s still possible to overwinter your mums with a few easy steps.

So you know that you can overwinter mums, but how should you do this? Here are some tips to help your mums survive the winter.

Tips to Overwinter Mums

planting mums to overwinter them

Plant early in fall so that the roots have time to establish before the winter.

Source: Gardenality

cow manure, mushroom compost, leaf compost, and potting mix

Mums need well-draining soil. Amend the planting hole with compost and maybe even topsoil, especially if you have clay soil.

Source: Jack Frost Landscapes & Garden Center

mulch mums

Mulch them to insulate the ground and ensure they survive even a colder winter.

Source: Pinterest

pruning mums

Our winters here aren’t too cold, but if you live in an area where you get several hard frosts, the top growth of your plant will die back. No worries, just cut the foliage and stems back (leave a little nub of stems on top). They will grow back in spring.

Source: Village Green LLC

After Overwintering Mums – What to do in spring?

When the mums start pushing out new growth next spring, feed them with slow-release fertilizer or compost. If it looks like they’re dead, be patient and don’t dig them up. Sometimes it takes time for them to come up after a long winter. If you don’t see anything going on by late spring, they, unfortunately, didn’t make it. No worries! Dig them up and replant new mums in spring or fall.


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