Cutting back mums...??

terry7321(z8 SC)July 26, 2006

I have several hardy mums that are nearly a foot tall and loaded with buds (some are already blooming). I've always heard that they should be cut back in the summer...I'm thinking maybe back to 1/3. If I cut mine back now, I'll be lopping off nearly all of the buds/blooms. Will they have time to 're-load' before fall? Should I, or shouldn't I?

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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It's way too late! If you did trim them now, you'd get very few if any flowers.

If you want your mums to bloom in the fall, you should start cutting them back early. Keep them trimmed low until around the end of June. (Some people use July 4 to make it easy to remember.) If you don't keep them trimmed, it is too late even in June. Once all the buds form, cutting them off means removing the flowers.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 8:49AM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

Brandon, I wish I'd known this. All of my mums have been blooming beautifully. One bloomed and finished and I cut it back and it looks like it will bloom again and its my favorite color the kind of dirty orange color that looks so autumn like. The red ones are the ones that still haven't bloomed but they are just now getting buds and a couple of blooms.

Should I do the same thing for the asters? I got bunches of asters and mums last year at about 25 cents each because they were all finished blooming. This year they are beautiful, but I think next year I'll cut them back until July 4.


    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 10:52AM
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terry7321(z8 SC)

I'm making a mental note myself to keep ahead of the "pinching" next year, and to 'let them go' after the 4th of July. I appreciate the tips!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 4:44PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Katie, if you cut it back before all the blooms were formed, you may get a "rebloom", but if you had very many flowers before you cut it back then chances are you won't get very much of a show later on. Most mums aren't rebloomers, but deadheading may bring out a small rebloom depending on a number of factors.

My mom's mums were not pinched back this year. I told her to just enjoy them early. They can be just as pretty in summer as in fall.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 7:44PM
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I wanted to bump this post back up because I trimmed my mums close to the 4th of July when they were already getting flower buds, and was very dismayed to see this thread and realize my mistake. Well, guess what? They're currently loaded with blooms in spite of it all!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 4:03PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

July 4th is often given as a good cut-off date, not the "it's-way-past-time date". (That comes later.) It usually is much better to start early and keep them prunned until around that date. Often a first trim that late (and especially later) does negatively impact the amount of flowers produced. Visual inspection with experience is probably the best way to determine how late you can really get by with, and it will vary with plant species, cultivar, environment, location, etc. It all boils down to how many potential buds are left after that last trim. If you're a couple of weeks past the time most buds are produced, then it's too late to trim.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 7:48PM
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Being fairly new to gardening, I never realized you had to do anything with mums. Mine came back last year, but I think I cut them way down. I wasn't sure if they would survive the winter. This year the plants are way too leggy and large. I heard somewhere you are supposed to divide them? Someone else said to just cut them back in the spring. Any suggestions?


    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 7:50AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Dividing mums (at least the common kinds) won't make them less leggy. They have to be trimmed to keep them lower and more full. I usually keep the "runner" stems cut back as I keep the top pruned back to keep them from becoming a big spreading mass.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2006 at 6:26PM
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I see you stop by July 4th, when do you start cutting them back and how low, all the way to the ground?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 1:09PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I start cutting mine back when they get about 4" to 6" tall. I wouldn't cut them below this level. For best result, this can be done every other week or so. This will make them a lot fuller. I haven't measured them, but I think I try to keep mine below about 8" to 10".

    Bookmark   November 14, 2008 at 3:24PM
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I recieved some planted, bloomed mums from my fiance for Mother's Day this year. I want to keep them alive. I am not going to lie, I lack the green thumb and have only been moderately watering them outside. BUT I want to keep THIS plant alive if it has any chance left. PLEASE help!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 2:05AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


You wrote "PLEASE help!", but you didn't really say what the problem is. Are you plants not doing well? Have you been monitoring soil moisture levels? If not, that would probably be step 1.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 3:19PM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

As long as someone else brought this up, I'm interested to know how to divide these mums. The ones that I have planted all have only 1 main stem going into the earth - no matter how huge or small they are. Do they develop more earthbound stems that you could divide?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 1:17PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It may depend on the mum (there are different types), but all of mine eventually develop multiple shoots. I think cutting the foliage back encourages more shoots from the roots as well as from above.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 11:31PM
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katiedidcottage(z7 TN / Chattanooga)

Thank you, Brandon, you are ever helpful.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 8:05AM
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I have a question... One of my mums is pretty large, starting to bloom. However it has gotten so large that the front half of it wants to fall over because it sits on a hill and a few pieces have broken off...
Should I cut off pieces that still want to fall or just let nature take its course?
ALso it already has a bunch of blooms on it but would really like the fall color it to late to pinch back? If not, how much should I pinch off?
Thank you

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 7:53PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)


Did you read the posts above? Your bloom question has already been covered.

As for whether you should remove sections that are falling over, it just depends on what it looks like and your own tastes. You could always temporarily prop up the plant this year and do things correctly, from the beginning, next year.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 8:56PM
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