Should mums be pruned in the spring?

highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)August 26, 2006

I love mums for fall color, and just planted a few, but at my last house they were larger than I expected the second year and I wonder if I should have cut them back. If so, is it to contain their growth, or just for more vigorous blooming?

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celeste75(Z 5 NY)

I don't know if that will contain their growth but it can provide more blooms. Here in upstate NY, zone 5, hardy mums do get bigger (taller) the second yr. We also found out that when you buy them here in the fall, if you don't take the flower buds off, they won't come up next yr. They say the plant gives all its energy to blossoms and doesn't get strong enough to survive the winter. It works!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 4:19PM
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If you mean they were taller than expected, then pinching them a couple of times in the spring and early summer will make them bush out more and be shorter with more blooms. If you mean the clump is too large, then dividing them in the spring is the answer.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 5:18PM
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happyhoe(z6 OH)

When you purchase mums at the garden center they have been pinched and drenched with PGR's to keep them small.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 8:08PM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

Okay, I hate to show my ignorance, but what are PGR's?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2006 at 11:30PM
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shapiro(5a Ontario)

If you want tidy bushy mums, the thing to do is to pinch all growing tips twice at a few weeks' intervals, but not pinching after early July. If you pinch later than that, you won't get blooms at all.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 9:32AM
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I'm guessing PGR = Plant Growth Hormone a/k/a SuperThrive?

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 1:27PM
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PGR = Plant Growth Regulators (artificial hormones that dwarf a plant so it's more "marketable" or to induce shoot production for propagation.

Superthrive is junk.


    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 3:12PM
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madtripper(5/6 Guelph)

Based on my reading, the "fall garden mums" are not really winter hardy. They might come back a few times, but eventually, they die out.

I's suggest you buy hardy perennial mums. These can be tall or short depending on which ones you pick. I have one that was labeled as something other than a mum, and it stays about 15" tall and it is in it's 3 rd year. I also have others that are 4 ft tall.

Pinching will keep them shorter, but will not convert a tall plant inot a short one.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2006 at 7:16PM
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mmqchdygg(Z5NH) to distinguish between a Fall Garden Mum and a Hardy Perennial one?

Most of the ones I see sold in this area just say either Mums or Hardy Mums. No designation of Perennial or not.

I did have 3 that returned this year; pretty excited about that since I've never had mums return...

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 9:04AM
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In zone 8 my mother can grow mums like weeds. They pop up everywhere. She deadheads regularly tossing the spent heads in with the rest of the flowers. They can get over 2 and a half feet tall. Some keep returning as a "perennial" getting bigger each year and some start from the seeds. I have brought back some of the small plants and she scattered some seeds in my garden to "surprise" me. Both are growing vigorously and look very hardy. As the plant has been there for a few years she does pull them up to make room for the younger ones as the older ones get too big. She is not sure the variety but the colors are an orange, yellow and tangerine/red mix.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 9:46AM
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highalttransplant(z 5 Western CO)

When I purchased them, the tag said Garden Mums - Perennial. All of the ones I have ever planted have come back, though the one I put in front of the garden hose got a bit trampled :) I just love all of the beautiful colors that they come in! If you didn't have to wait so long for them to bloom each year, I would plant even more of them.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 11:52AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Agree with the pinching - not only causes the plant to produce more blooms but also produces a shorter, bushier plant.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2006 at 1:14PM
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In my experience, there is no difference between the mums you buy in the fall....the big difference is that if you plant the flowering mums in the fall, they may not have enough time to get situated before the winter comes. In general, most of my fall planted mums croak...but, if I take the same mums and stuff them in my unheated garage, or in my summer room and water them but rarely, then they come back in the spring.

Yes, division on a regular basis is important. Otherwise they will take over the world if they are happy, and will strangle themselves out if not divided frequently.

Mums also like good drainage and don't like to have wet heads over the winter. Those little baby leaves which are next years growth also need protection. I don't cut my mums back much if at all so that the old leaves/growth protect next years. I know back in the days when we had bushel baskets, my mom used to invert them over the mums to protect them from Michigan winters. It worked well.

As far as pinching: I always pinch up until about July 4. For some mums which I know to be later bloomers (a rose sort of one which was always in bloom in about Thanksgiving) I will pinch a tad longer. I found that if I didn't, then they got really tall and floppy. Pinching them made for shorter, thicker stems which stayed upright.

The only mums I don't grow, and thus can't make any comment on are "football mums" which I think may not be hardy, and spider mums...which I don't like cause they're scary. Spiders. Icky pooh.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 12:23AM
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lighthouse00(Z6 MA)

I would like to plant mums this fall and have them come back next year. In MA, when is the best time to plant them? I have heard different things. I guess mums supposedly do not do well if it is too warm. However, I would like them to last for a little while before frost comes. Do only certain garden centers sell the perennial style? How do you tell the difference? Can mums be split and moved when large? How is this achieved without killing the roots?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 8:53PM
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I grow mums commercially and no I DO NOT use growth regulators. They are a short cut some growers use to cut production costs. IOW, it's cheaper to spray than to hire somebody to pinch. Market mums are constantly changing. Many, if not most, fall mums on the market in this area are the "belgium" mums. They have a smaller flower head than the old fashioned mums and they do not need pinched. It won't hurt them if you do, but they usually don't need it and will produce so many flowers they almost hide the foliage anyway.

The down side to them, is that they do not return for me as well as the more old fashioned varieties common on the market until a dozen or so years ago.

The best time to plant mums is actually spring, but you seldom find them at that time, and usually the market is flooded with them toward fall because that is what the public perception of them has become....fall decorations.

They are natural fall bloomers as their buds are initiated with long nights. That's why you sometimes get them in bloom in early summer, they've initiated their bloom in the longer nights of spring.

I have very good luck with mums returning, but they should be considered a short lived perennial for the most part. They are usually sold very cheaply, compared to other perennials, and given that are worth the repeated investment.

You can hedge your bets with taking them into the winter properly, and care should be taken that they don't be in a poor drainage situation. Don't be in a great hurry to remove mulch in spring, either. A good many of them are lost when it warms up unseasonably early and they break their dormancy, only to have the tender crown uncovered and then frozen hard.

Some mums you buy are mass produced until they end up being dead men walking, with chemicals poured on them to prevent rots and arrive at stores with brown, decaying root systems. Their root hairs should be white and fluffy, or at least not brown and soggy. There isn't much you can do to hedge your bets when you buy those. They'll live long enough to finish blooming and slowly (or not so slowly) decline to the point winter finishes them off.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 11:21PM
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inthegarden_k(z7 NC)

in spring, you can buy tiny plants that grow into good sized bloomers in the fall from places like King's online. when you are pinching back, strip all but the end few leaves, stick the cutting in a pot of whatever you like for starting cuttings (i use a soilless mix), keep it a bit moist, and you will get more plants. they are almost as easy as sedum. finding a good supplier in spring is key to success.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 11:35PM
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I did not do any "Pinching" whatsoever last year. I planted my mum plant in abut June/July, it bloomed, and now it is a very dry ugly plant. What do I do now so that it will bloom again his fall? Do I just leave it, or cut it back? If to be cut back, how far?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 4:15PM
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Can you use the pruned off parts of the mum for "starters" for new ones?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 9:48PM
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I have had mums in my garden for several years. They always come back, however, someone told me that I should be pinching them back. My problem is that it's already the end of June and a couple have already started to bloom. I've read the information on this website and it appears that the last day I should pinch the plants would be around July 4th. Should I still try to pinch them back? Should I pinch back the ones that have already started to bloom? I've never had them bloom this early before. Or, should I just forget doing it for this year?

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 5:59PM
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