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  Chrysanthemum (Hardy Mum) Care Sheet

Many gardeners treat hardy mums as "annuals" to provide a spot of fall color. When using as an annual, it is fine to leave them in their original pots or transplant them into decorative garden containers. However, mums must be planted in the ground in order to survive Wisconsin’s winter. For best results, plant mums as soon as possible in the fall to give them time to root in well before frosts.  

Immediate Care: Water thoroughly when soil feels dry to the touch. Mums left in pots may dry out very quickly, and should be checked daily for soil moisture. Mums grow best in sun. However, because mums purchased in the fall are already developed with flowers, they may tolerate shady or indoor conditions. If you intend to keep them as perennials, mums must be planted outdoors in a sunny location.  

Care next season: Mums are somewhat late to leaf out in spring. When 6-8 inches high, pinch off the terminal shoots. Pinch again every 6-8 inches to promote branching and increase the number of flowers. Repeat pinching until July 4th. Fertilize monthly.  

Winter Protection: We recommend mulching your mums to help them survive the winter. Mounding with soil (as with a rose) after the foliage dies, letting the soil mound freeze, and then mulching with straw, marsh hay or evergreen boughs is probably the best method. Leaves are generally not recommended as a winter mulch as they can pack down and smother plants. Covering the plants after the ground freezes with 3-4 inches of straw can be sufficient and is definitely better than not covering at all. Snow cover is adequate, but is not always dependable. Remember, you are mulching to keep the plants frozen, not to keep them warm!  

Unfortunately, even when following all proper mulching procedures, mums sometimes suffer from winter kill. Chrysanthemums planted in the spring tend to be more winter hardy, as they have had all summer to establish. 

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