This is Why You Should Not Plant Mums in Fall

Updated: Sep. 22, 2020

Mums are a popular choice for colorful fall flowers, but the best season to plant them may surprise you.

chrysanthemum flowersCourtesy Cynthia Nelson

Are Mums Annuals or Perennials?

“Every time I buy chrysanthemums in the fall I ask if they are winter hardy perennials. I plant them and in the spring they never come up. What am I doing wrong?” asks Linda Barnes of New London, Ohio.

Chrysanthemums are technically perennials, but you are definitely not alone in your struggle. Psst—here’s the difference between annuals and perennials. The mums and asters we purchase in fall are in full bloom, so the plant diverts much of its energy into flowering instead of developing roots to help survive the winter.

Try planting mums in spring so they have time to become established before the flowering and winter season. More and more garden centers are selling mums in spring for exactly this reason. For best results, plant them in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day with well drained soil.

Or just treat them as annuals and replant them every fall.

Next: Check out the best fall flowers (that aren’t mums).