Minnesota Chrysanthemums “Mums”

Bright red, pink, yellow, white, purple, golden orange, copper, cream…you will find all sorts of Minnesota Mum flower colors! Thanks to the University of Minnesota’s Mum breeding program beginning in the 1920’s we now have mums that are hardy in Minnesota winters.

Here’s a bit of history for you! The cushion habitat mum was the first patent of the U of M in 1977.  “Plants are dome-shaped, with flowers almost completely covering the outside surfaces of each plant. Previous mums bloomed only at the top of long stems (upright habit). Within a decade, the cushion type became the dominant chrysanthemum plant habit worldwide.”- U of M Chrysanthemum breeding program.

There is continued development of a different growth habitat mum like the wave hardy mum since right now most are the cushion or upright habitat. Hopefully we see more of those soon!

Sometimes Minnesota Mums can be finicky with our winters and some treat all mums as annuals but here are some steps to take care of your hardy Minnesota Mum so it comes up year-after-year.

Before Winter Care:

  1. Plant your mums in well-draining soil. The cold air may not be the killer of MN Mums. The ice around the root system definitely will if there is standing water when we get freezing temps.
  2. Think about a sheltered location that can protect your mum from winter winds.
  3. “Tests show that garden mums survive the winter better when the above-ground dead plant stems are not removed in the fall. This is also a beneficial technique to use with other herbaceous perennials.” -U of M 
  4. Cover your mums with 4″ of leaves or mulch to give them good insulation after the ground is frozen and there isn’t extreme fluctuations of temperature.

Spring Time Care:

  1. Take off the leaves that you bundled your mum in if they haven’t blown away already.
  2. You can just snap off or trim off the dead growth. Be careful not to pull out or cut new growth.
  3. This is the time also that you can divide your mum. The outer new growth is the most vigorous and you may see little stray growths that are perfect for splitting. Dig down and snip off the new growth, leaving as much of new roots on as you can on the cutting and then pot them up in a clean pot and soil in a warm sunny windowsill for a few weeks and be sure to water but not too much. Do the finger test of sticking you finger down into the dirt on the side at least two inches to see if the soil is dry. Then you can plant them into the ground after a few weeks.