How To Plant Garden Mums
So you want more flowers with vibrant color in your landscape during the fall season and have decided to plant some perennial garden mums. You've made an excellent choice!

Hundreds of hardy cultivars of mums, Chrysanthemum morifolium, can provide an array of colors and bloom shapes in the fall garden. The blooms last for weeks, not days, and the sheer number of flowers per plant will convince anyone that this flower really likes to show off. Add the mum's impressionistic abilities to its longevity, and you have a perennial plant that pulls its weight in the garden year after year.

Cultural Needs

Sun - Mums will flower best when growing in full sun. That being said, a little filtered sun during the hottest part of the day in hotter regions of the South is okay and will reduce supplemental water needs. Too much shade will diminish flowering and plants will become leggy.

Soil Type Preferred - Mums aren't too picky about soil type provided the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. In soil with low fertility or compact clay it'll be worth your time to mix in some organic compost to the native soil. They like a somewhat moist soil but not so much water that the soil stays constantly soggy or wet.

Soil pH Preferred - Mums thrive in a wide range soil pH between 6.0 and 8.0. This means soil pH shouldn't be a problem unless your soil is known to be heavily alkaline or acidic.

How To Plant Mums
Below and on the next page are general guidelines for properly planting mums in groupings in garden beds, individually in the landscape, and in container gardens.

In Groupings

Start by outlining the shape of your mum bed on the ground with spray paint, baking flour, or a garden house. You can create any shape you want: round, pie-shape, square, rectangular, triangular, peanut, kidney bean, oblong, etc..

Next, spray any grassy or broadleaf weeds growing inside the outlined area with a solution of a glyphosphate-based weed killer, such as Hi-Yield Killzall. After spraying, wait at least two hours or until spray has dried on the weeds to begin planting. Before using any chemical read and carefully follow instructions for use on the product label. 

Disperse a 2- to 3-inch layer of a soil amendment, such as a good planting mix or compost, over the native ground inside your outlined mum bed.

Use a rototiller or round-point shovel to till or turn the soil amendment to a depth of 6 inches into the native soil. 

Carefully remove your mum from the nursery container it was growing in. If the rootball is stuck in the container use some snips to cut the container away. 

Space your mums over the planting area at a distance as suggested on the plant tag. I usually space mums a minimum of 24 inches apart. Remember, these plants are perennials that will increase in size over time. I always start with a row around the perimeter of bed and then stagger plants towards the inside of the perimeter row, and so on towards the center until the bed is full.

Before planting, it's a good idea to "scuff up" the surface of the root ball to loosen some feeder roots. Then dig a planting hole and place soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole.

Place your mum plant in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is level with the ground. Then use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets until you've reached the top of the root ball. Avoid placing any soil on top of the rootball. 

STEP 9 (Optional)
Broadcast a weed preventer such as Hi-Yield Herbicide Granules over the surface of the bed for season-long weed prevention.

STEP 10 
To suppress weed growth and retain soil moisture, apply a 1-inch layer of shredded wood mulch to cover the soil in your mum bed. Avoid piling mulch against the base of plants.  

Give your new garden bed a thorough, gentle soaking to a depth equal to the height of the plants rootball. Thereafter, in the absence of rainfall, water as necessary to keep soil moist, but not constantly soggy. It's best to water during the early to mid-morning hours and never at night! 

NOTE: Since you mums will have been fertilized by the grower there is no need to feed your newly planted mums. You can feed them in spring with a good flower food.

Individually in Landscape Beds

Dig a hole at least twice as wide and a little deeper than the rootball is tall. Place the native soil removed from the planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow or on a tarp.

Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area you might need to amend the native soil. When planting in dense clay or poor soil it is beneficial to thoroughly mix in some good organic matter, such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, and/or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil. When planting in very sandy, quick-draining soil you might want to consider mixing in some top soil, peat moss, and/or compost to help retain moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy, well-drained but moist soil there is no need for adding a soil amendment.

Then follow Steps 5 through 11 above.