Debbie Roland, Master Gardener
Chrysanthemums or mums are a favorite plant for West Texas gardens. They are usually inexpensive and give color into the cooler months when everything else is slowing down. If planted in beds they work well for mass plantings. Add ornamental grasses for color and texture contrast.
Mums are considered perennials, but whether or not they come back next year depends on when you plant. Six weeks before the first freeze is the ideal time, which should be about mid to late September.
Plant in soil that is well drained. Planting in full sun (six to eight hours of sunlight) will produce better blooms than planting in partial shade. Fertilize with 5-10-10 to encourage growth and blooms. Once plants have bloomed and the blooms begin to fade, deadhead each plant. Deadheading is removing the spent blooms with scissors or clippers. This step will be well worth the trouble and will produce additional blooms. Water lightly three times a week.
Mums do not like heavy frosts and freezes so mulching is required to get the plants through the winter months. If you mulch, mums will usually leaf back out in the spring. They can live four to five years if given proper care.
Mums can also be grown in pots but usually will not survive the harsh winter temperatures without the protection of the ground soil and mulch. If grown in pots they should be considered an annual. Bringing them indoors or into a greenhouse may allow you to get additional growing seasons. Plant mums in pots with hardy fall vegetables such as kale or cabbage for a beautiful combination.
If you are using potted mums for decoration and color on your porch, combine the orange, bronze, cream or yellow plants with pumpkins or gourds.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.