11 Tips For Growing Chrysanthemums in Pots or Containers

Thinking of growing chrysanthemums in pots or containers this season? Garden mums can be a welcome addition to any fall garden. In this article, gardening expert Liessa Bowen shares her top tips for beautiful blooming mums in containers or pots.

Chrysanthemums of many different color variations are grown in pots and are sitting on the ground. The pots are black plastic, and have orange flowers in one pot, white in another, and yellow flowers in secondary pots behind them.


Nothing says “fall” like colorful foliage, pumpkins, hay bales … and Chrysanthemums. There are hundreds of varieties of Chrysanthemums, or “Mums,” each with their own unique characteristics. These attractive plants, with their profusion of richly-colored flowers, are one of the most popular fall flowers commonly grown in pots or containers.

Their flowers bloom in many different colors, most popularly in shades of yellow, orange, and pink. Whether you buy a single potted plant or a car-load, Mums make a stunning floral display at the end of the growing season. But they are also synonymous with trouble in colder weather, especially when grown in pots.

Fall-blooming container grown Mums will bloom for at least several weeks in the fall. In ideal conditions, your Mums may bloom from early fall until frost. Choosing the healthiest plants and taking care of them will help prolong their vigor and beauty. Here we will share our top tips for beautiful container grown chrysanthemums, as well as how to care for them when they are finished blooming. Ready to learn more? Let’s dig in!

Choose a Healthy Plant

An open-air gardening farmer's fair. Lots of blooming bright red, white and orange chrysanthemums in flower pots. Bushes of different varieties of beautiful decorative flowers. Some bushes are placed in cardboard boxes and some in plastic black boxes. The Potted mums are in direct sun.
It is recommended to choose a mother in a pot with closed buds to enjoy longer flowering.

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose the healthiest plant you can find. You are probably buying Mums for their cheerful blooms. You will likely have a variety of colors and sizes to choose from. Choose wisely to maximize your enjoyment of these fall beauties.

Look at the flowers. You can expect your potted Mum to bloom for at least 2-3 weeks, but ideally, they can bloom even longer. When selecting a potted Mum, choose one that is mostly buds rather than fully in bloom. This way, you can enjoy the full duration of its blooming phase. Do not choose a Mum with many faded flowers as it will already be at the end of its blooming period.

Look at the leaves. Choose a lush and healthy plant. Leaves should be firm and green. Avoid plants with wilted or yellowed leaves. Check for signs of insects or disease and don’t buy a plant that looks generally sick or unhealthy.

Provide Plenty of Sunlight

Multi-colored flowers in black pots stand in a row on a decorative landscape tile near a rural house. Two bushes bloom with bright yellow flowers, two more bushes bloom with bright pink flowers and one bush has rich red flowers. The flowers are small, collected in a basket, consisting of median tubular yellow flowers and red marginal, arranged in many rows and form a "double" bloom. The leaves are serrated and dissected, green. The background is out of focus.
Mums require full sun for at least 6 hours a day.

Mums need full sun to part shade. They do best with at least 6 hours of bright sunlight each day. Set your pots or containers in a location that gets plenty of sun: on a porch or deck, in the yard, along a driveway or fence; the possibilities are endless.

But be aware that on a warm day in the sun, a potted plant has a tendency to dry out quickly. This can lead to other problems, including browning of their flowers and even death of the plant. So watch them diligently once placed in their sunny home.

Water Regularly

A woman's hands spray water on yellow chrysanthemum flowers from a spray bottle on the porch. Blooms are yellow in color, the flowers are small, collected in a basket consisting of median tubular yellow flowers and arranged in many rows and form a "double" bloom. The leaves are serrated and dissected, green.
The soil in the pots should be moist, but not soggy.

Keep your Mums moist. The soil should feel moist, but not wet or soggy. Mums do not tolerate soggy soil, nor to they tolerate completely drying out. This is critical to keeping them alive and blooming in the fall and beyond.

Plants growing in pots and containers tend to dry quickly, so check the soil moisture daily and give them a hearty drink of water anytime they start to feel dry. If your Mums are growing in a large container, you can add a thin layer of mulch across the surface to help conserve moisture.

Invest in Fertilizer

Close-up of female hands mixing liquid fertilizer with water for potted plants indoors. In her hands, she holds a yellow lid with fertilizer pouring into a transparent measuring cup of water in her other hand. On the table is a green bottle with a pink lid filled with fertilizer and a green spray bottle. There are many houseplants in the blurry background.
If you are growing your chrysanthemums as perennials, fertilize each year in the spring and mid-summer.

If you are growing Mums as an annual for a one-time fall bloom, you do not need to worry about adding any additional fertilizer. If you have successfully overwintered your Mums and are growing them as perennials, you may want to do some fertilizing.

You can fertilize each year in spring and again in early to mid-summer. Mums are not heavy feeders, so you will just need a light dose. Be careful not to over-fertilize or your plants may produce a great deal of leafy green growth at the expense of flower production.

Deadhead Spent Blooms

Close-up of a gardener's hands cutting a yellow flower with green pruners. The gardener is wearing a long-sleeved denim shirt. The flowers are yellow and pink, small, collected in a basket. The flowers bloom in the sun. The background is blurry.
Remove spent blooms to keep plants looking fresh and produce more flowers.

Removing spent blooms (deadheading) will help keep your plants looking fresh. Deadheading can also help encourage your plants to produce more blooms. Using sharp scissors or handheld pruning shears, simply snip off any spent flowers.

Repot After Blooming

Autumn transplantation of mums in a large clay pot. The hands of a gardener in green gloves lower a small bush of a flowering plant into a flower pot. In one hand is a garden shovel. The gardener is wearing an orange sweatshirt printed with small black and white hearts. A pot of flowers stands on a wooden table with wooden shelves, on which are placed three flower pots in red, green and purple with plants.
Transplant your chrysanthemums into a large container with good drainage holes.

If you buy potted Mums in the fall and decide to keep your Mums growing past one season, you should plan to repot them into a larger container. You will need a container that’s larger than the one they came in.

Mums sold as fall ornamentals tend to be quite rootbound and they will appreciate having a bit of extra room to grow. Use a durable and sturdy pot made of plastic, resin, or ceramic, and make sure your pot has good drainage holes on the bottom.

You can choose to re-pot your Mums individually or grow several in one container. You can also do a mixed planting. If you have a large container, you could grow a Mum with other fairly compact sun-loving annuals, such as ornamental peppers, snapdragons, and pansies, or herbs such as basil and chives.

There are many other plants that would grow well with Mums, such as a compact ornamental grass or a trailing ground cover that drapes over the edge or the container. You can have fun making your own unique arrangement.

Use the Right Soil

A gardener transplants an orange chrysanthemum into a beautiful beige textured flower pot. A gardener in a light green apron pours soil into a flower pot with a garden shovel. There is another flower pot with potted mum right next to it.
Chrysanthemums prefer well-drained garden soil that retains moisture.

Mums like a rich, well-drained potting soil. You won’t find a potting soil that is specially formulated for Mums. You also won’t need the highest quality or most expensive soil available. Any decent quality, well-draining garden soil should be good.

It’s most important that the soil doesn’t stay soggy or dry out completely, so it should hold moisture without being squishy and wet.

Provide Plenty of Space

Decorative gold and black pumpkins next to blooming chrysanthemums outdoors. Large bushes of bright blooming chrysanthemums in brown flower pots. In the first pot, orange and pink flowers bloom, and in the second pot, white and bright yellow flowers bloom.
If you are placing multiple Mums in one container, then make sure they have enough room to grow.

Mums can grow quite large and bushy. If you are planting several Mums (or other plants) together in a large container, give them each plenty of space to grow.

Plant them approximately 18 inches apart to allow each one to have full access to sun and water. You don’t want your container grown plants to have to compete with each other for individual space and resources.

Overwinter Potted Mums

Incredibly beautiful and densely flowering chrysanthemum bush in a black pot in a clean, well-kept garden wooden shed. The flowers are soft and bright pink. The leaves are serrated and dissected, green. A large yellow garden shovel, a blue rake, a wooden broom with purple bristles, three small flower pots filled with soil, and a green hose are next to the chrysanthemum pot. All garden tools and a flower pot are on a piece of burlap.
For wintering, it is recommended to move the container to a dark, cool place and add mulch.

The most important thing to remember about overwintering is that your plant’s roots need to be protected from freezing. Wherever you are overwintering your potted Mum, try to keep the roots above 32 degrees.

You can wrap the pot with an insulating layer, or surround it with a layer of mulch. While protecting your plants from a hard freeze, also keep the roots slightly moist, especially for a potted plant, as you don’t want them to dry out completely, even in winter.

If you live in zones 7-9, you may be able to overwinter your Mum in a large container outdoors.  If your container is large enough and you’re in a warmer climate where freezes are rare, you can probably just add a layer of mulch to the top of the container.

If you live in a cooler zone, you can try overwintering your potted Mum in a protected area that is dark and cool, such as a garage or shed. Basically you are trying to prevent the tender roots from freezing.

Prune For Fuller Growth

Pinching chrysanthemums. An elderly gardener's hand pinches the green stems in a spring garden. Jagged and dissected green leaves grow on the stems. The background is blurry.
If your Mum produces flower buds in early summer, pinch them off to encourage your plant to produce a flush of flowers in the fall.

If you have successfully overwintered your Mum, you are ready for another year of growth and blooming. In the winter or early spring, before the plant starts actively growing, prune your plant to encourage fuller, bushier growth.

If the plant produces flower buds early to mid summer, you can also pinch off these buds. This will encourage your plant to produce a heavier and more uniform flush of flowers in the fall.

Have Realistic Expectations

Pots with beautiful flowers are placed on a white stepped wooden stand. Chrysanthemum bushes of different colors including bright pink flowers, soft pink, bright orange and red. Some bushes are in black pots and others are in brown pots.
In order for your potted Mums to bloom for many years, you will need to provide them with proper care.

It is entirely possible that your potted Mums will last for many years. They can continue to grow and flower annually if given proper care. Unfortunately, many Mums sold as seasonal fall decorations are not terribly hardy for continued growth year after year.

They are grown and marketed to be fully enjoyed for one blooming cycle, and that’s all. A careful and patient gardener, however, can coax these potted plants into a much longer life span.

Do not simply expect that your Mums will last forever, but if you are willing to put in the necessary care, you can nurture them through several years of growth.

Final Thoughts

A potted Mum, blooming in the crisp autumn air is a seasonal delight. Anyone can grow Mums in containers throughout the fall, enjoying their proliferation of colorful blooms. It’s simple to keep your plants happily blooming for a single season. If you want to enjoy the same plants year after year, you will need to take a few extra steps to make sure they endure the winter and have the right conditions to continue growing.

The most important things to remember are to give them plenty of sunlight and keep the soil moist. If you want to enjoy repeat bloomers year after year, do a little light pruning to encourage compact growth and protect overwintered plant roots from freezing. If your chrysanthemum variety is hardy and well cared for, you can enjoy repeat performance each season.

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