Overwintering Mums

Overwintering mums is possible. Because many people think that mums (formally called chrysanthemums) are at best a finicky perennial, many gardeners treat them as annuals. But, this does not have to be the case. With just a little winter care for mums, these fall beauties can come back year after year. Keep reading to learn more about how to winterize mums.

Winter Care for Mums

The steps for wintering mums start when you plant them. Make sure that you plant your mums in well-draining soil. In many cases, it is not the cold that kills mums, but rather the ice that forms around the mums roots if they are planted in soil that collects water. Well-draining soil is essential to successfully overwintering mums.

When planting your mums, also consider planting them in a somewhat sheltered location where they will not be exposed to winter winds which can decrease their chances of surviving the winter.

The next step in winter care for mums is to properly insulate them in the fall. The leaves of the plant will die back and become brown after a few hard frosts have hit your area. After the foliage of the plant has died back, some folks like to cut it back. With everyone I've talked to I am 99% sure that cutting them back is not necessary, but it does make it easier to mulch them. If you prefer to cut them back, cut back the stems of the mums to 3-4 inches above the ground. Leaving a little bit of the stems will ensure that next year you have a full plant as the new stems will grow from these trimmed stems. If you cut the mums back to the ground, fewer stems will grow next year.

After this, when wintering mums, it is best to provide a heavy layer of mulch over the plant after the ground has frozen. The mulch for winterizing mums can be straw or leaves. This layer of mulch helps to keep the ground insulated. Interestingly, the idea is to help prevent the ground from thawing during the winter during warm spells. When the ground freezes and thaws and freezes again, this causes more damage to the plant than if it simply stays frozen for the whole winter season.

With these few steps, you can provide the kind of winter care for mums that will increases the chances that these lovely flowers will make it through the cold weather and reward you with lovely blooms again next year. Knowing how to winterize mums will not only save your mums, but will save your money too because you will not have to buy new plants each year.  However, keep in mind that there are no gaurantees in our region.  A particularly harsh winter can still kill your mums.