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Posted on Mon, Jul 4, 2011 : 8:29 p.m.

Cut back chrysanthemums now for more fall blooms

By Monica Milla


Cut the buds off mums around July 4 to create more flowers in fall.

Monica Milla | Contributor

Independence Day is a good time to cut the buds off chrysanthemums to create more and lusher blooms in fall.

If you have hardy mums (those that survive the winter), you can encourage more blooms and fuller plants by cutting off the buds, or the top growth where buds would soon form, around July 4 each year.

For mums (as well as many other plants and shrubs), cutting off the top of a stem encourages the plant to grow two stems in its place, which will in turn create more flowers. A plant's main goal in life is to reproduce. Sure, we find the flowers pretty, but to a plant, flowers are only a means to an end: to create seeds to reproduce.

So, you see, removing the mum's buds doesn't prevent it from flowering; it encourages it to produce more buds! Just be sure to prune your mums this week so there's enough warm weather left for the new buds to form by fall.


Several buds grow off one stem. Make your cut at the base of the stem, as shown by the pink lines.

Monica Milla | Contributor

If your mum already has buds, great! That will make it easier for you to see where to cut. You do not need to cut off each individual flower. Instead, you cut off the base from which each set of flowers forms. The bright pink lines in the photo above show you where you would make the cuts.

You can use hand-held pruners (bypass preferred over anvil) or sharp scissors to make the cut. Cut at a 45-degree angle; this avoids a flat top where water can sit.


For tiny or non-emerged buds, let paler, more gray foliage guide you. Cut at the base of this new foliage.

Monica Milla | Contributor

If your buds are very tiny and hard to see or your plant doesn't quite have buds yet, that's OK. You can use the color of the foliage as a guide to wear the buds will grow. New foliage (which will produce buds) is at the top of each stem. It is paler and a bit more gray than the rest of the foliage. Cut at the base of such stems, as shown in the photo above.

Give your newly de-budded mums a little extra water for a week or so, and then continue with your normal watering schedule. You will be rewarded in fall!

In late fall, after your mums have bloomed, do not cut back their dried foliage. Leave it in place over the winter to provide a little extra protection for the roots. Cut it back in spring.

Monica Milla, the Garden Faerie, is a master gardener volunteer, instructor, speaker, garden coach, and author of "Fun with Winter Seed Sowing."



Thu, Jul 28, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

I see a lot of mum-bashing all over the internet, but I love their brilliant colors at a time when little else is blooming. We have some orange ones that look much like the ones in your photo. With the hot weather this summer, I'm looking forward to pumpkins, wool sweaters, extra blankets, waning sunlight, trick-or-treaters, and mums, Ours were pruned a little harder than in previous years. They bloom well in just a couple of hours of sun a day, but are prone to floppiness. Hopefully with the shorter pruning they'll mound more and splay less.


Tue, Jul 5, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

Enjoyed reading your post about creating more flowers in the fall. The photos are good and are a source of visual enjoyment. I wish we have the ability to attach the fragrance to the images we post. This creation is beautiful because we have the necessary sensory perception to enjoy the sights, the smells, and the sounds of things that are created.