Mums are a popular fall plant and are sold by most retail outlets in the autumn. Many homeowners buy them and use them as annuals for their splash of color that they provide in the garden and the landscape. When spring comes, the mum plant is long since dug up and discarded. But you can renew last year’s mums to get a bloom this year. This article will look at how to get mums that look good and bloom in fall from last year’s plants.
First, it is important to note that almost all varieties of mums are protected by a plant patent. Plant patents prohibit propagating and selling the plant without the permission of the patent holder. Heirloom mum varieties, if still around, have expired patents or are not patented and may be fair game. Therefore, though the following method can be used to propagate mums, it will be used only to maintain the existing plant when the variety is patented.
Although some mums will inevitably die during the winter, others will send up shoots from the base in spring. Mums sold in garden centers are bred for performance in flower rather than rugged endurance as a perennial; you will need to replicate the conditions the mums thrive in to get them to perform well. Start in late May or early June, and take cuttings from the shoots growing up from the old mum. Take about three to seven cuttings per plant. Cut the stem just below a leaf joint and strip off leaves for the first two inches, then stick that part into potting soil. There should be a few good leaves remaining. Pinch the terminal bud of each cutting to give it a head start branching. Keep cuttings from each plant apart from those from other plants. Rip out the old plants as they are no longer needed and will not bloom good if allowed to remain.
Keep the cuttings in shade and moisten the leaves once or twice a day. In a few weeks, the cuttings will have rooted. Take the pots last year’s mums came in, and clean them to eliminate any diseases. Fill them with potting soil, and plant the cuttings in the pot. Plant all the cuttings from each plant in each single pot to avoid mixing colors. Having multiple cuttings makes it easier to get a well-branched plant. Plus, if the plant is patented, you should only have one plant from one original plant lest you propagate it.
Water the cuttings every day, and pinch every few weeks until July. After mid July, let the plants grow and set buds. From having multiple plants in the pot and the pinching, the plants should be bushy and exhibit compact, dense growth. Give them a time release fertilizer to enhance their growth. They should set bud and bloom as normal mums. Plant in the ground and hope they again overwinter to repeat. To improve the chances, dig the mums after bloom and overwinter on the south side of the house.
Through renewing mums yearly, you can get a good flowering every year from your mums, rather than having to buy new ones. You break even in terms of time vs. money, but it is a fun hobby and that makes it worth it for the plant enthusiast.