Those pretty little garden mums you got on sale are starting to fade. Don’t panic. They’ll be back next year if you put them to bed properly. It’s not even that difficult. That’s what makes mums and other perennials such a great fall bargain. You get to enjoy their blooms when you first buy them on sale in the fall. Plus, they’ll pop up again next year to give you color for most of the gardening season. Not only that, they’ll continue to do so for many years to come.
Dead-heading is vital.
If you’re new to flower gardening, you may not be familiar with this term. Basically, dead-heading is exactly what it sounds like. It’s removing dead blooms by clipping. It keeps mums and other flowers healthier. Clip bloom stems just short of the first leaves on the stem. This leaves more nutrients for the rest of the plant. You may even get more blooms before winter by using this practice regularly.
Shaping makes for fuller bushes next year.
Once you’re down to the final dead-heading, why not shape your mums for next year? This is done by simply rounding off the “branches” of the plant. Mums will naturally round themselves, to a certain degree. Still, a little assistance will insure proper growth. Once again, be sure that you clip as close to leaf sets/stem origin as possible.
It may seem counter-productive. However, clipping mums close to the ground is the best way to produce bigger plants next gardening season. Who knew?
Fertilize just before the snow falls.
Give mums a nutritional boost to live off of in winter months. An organic liquid fertilizer specially formulated for flowers is best. You can buy these premixed or in powder form. You’ll have to mix the powder form yourself. However, it is slightly less expensive. Follow “dosage” recommendations on the package as all fertilizers are different.
Mulching keeps them warm.
Once you fertilize your mums for winter, be sure to surround them with plenty of natural, chemical free mulching material. If you can’t afford to buy mulch, fall leaves work quite well. They also provide nutrition as they decay. Mulching will keep plants warmer through freezing temps and snowfall. It will also retain their water supply. Even though mums are hardy winter survivors, it doesn’t hurt to keep them protected and moist.
Water well in dry winters.
If you’re in a drought zone or drought year, this is especially important. Snow cover will keep thirsty plants watered. However, you should still check your mums for dryness frequently throughout the winter. Water in milder temperatures when there is no snow cover only. Do the same with other garden perennials for a bright, colorful healthy garden next year.