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Can I plant mums in October?

Planting mums in October can be done, but there are some important factors to consider first. Mums are a popular fall flower that can add cheerful color to the autumn garden. With some planning and preparation, October can be a good time to get mums established for an attractive fall display.

Quick Overview

In most climates, October is late in the growing season to be planting mums from seed. However, potted mums from the nursery can still be planted in October and grow well with proper care. The ideal time to plant mums in many regions is September. But October planting can work too if the conditions are right.

When to Plant Mums

Here is a quick overview of when to plant mums:

  • Early spring – Plant mum seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last expected spring frost.
  • Spring – Plant nursery-bought mums outdoors after the danger of frost has passed.
  • Summer – Plant potted mums anytime during the summer months.
  • Early fall (September & October) – Plant nursery mums for fall color.

While mums can be planted in October, earlier fall planting in September is ideal in many climates. The reason is that mums planted earlier in fall have more time to establish roots before cold weather arrives.

Challenges of October Planting

Here are some of the main challenges associated with October mum planting:

  • Less time to establish before frost – October-planted mums have less time to put down roots before cold weather sets in compared to September-planted mums.
  • Cold shock – Potted nursery mums are often grown in greenhouses and need time to transition and acclimate to colder outdoor temperatures.
  • Moisture stress – October weather is often cooler and drier. More attention may be needed to provide sufficient water for the new transplants.
  • Shorter blooming window – Mums planted in October won’t bloom as long into the fall compared to earlier planting dates.

Keys to Success with October Mum Planting

Despite the challenges, there are some tips gardeners can follow to improve the chances of success with October mum planting:

  • Choose hardy mum varieties – Select late-blooming mums that are rated for your climate’s growing zone.
  • Plant in well-drained soil – Pick a spot with soil that drains well to prevent waterlogging.
  • Provide extra water – Supply additional irrigation in dry weather to support root establishment.
  • Add a thick mulch layer – Mulching helps insulate roots and conserve soil moisture.
  • Give protection if needed – Use covers, frames or cloches to protect plants if an early frost is expected.

Best Uses for October-Planted Mums

Here are some ideal uses for mums planted in October:

  • Short-term color for fall – October mums provide a burst of color until hard frost.
  • Filler plants for empty fall beds – Mums can fill voids where summer annuals have faded.
  • Pots and containers – Plant mums in pots for portable color around patios and decks.
  • Landscape plantings – Work mums into flower beds and borders for autumn accents.

While their flowering period will be shorter, October-planted mums still have time to shine and add festive flair to fall gardens and landscapes.

How to Plant Mums in October

If you decide to plant mums in October, here are some tips for success:

  1. Select a planting site. Pick a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day and has soil with good drainage.
  2. Prepare the planting bed. Remove weeds, loosen the soil and mix in some compost to enrich it.
  3. Dig holes for the mum plants. The holes should be about twice the width of the pot and the same depth as the containers.
  4. Remove pots and loosen roots. Gently remove mums from pots, loosen any circling roots and place in holes.
  5. Backfill holes and firm soil. Fill in around mums with surrounding soil, pressing firmly to remove air pockets.
  6. Water thoroughly. Water well after planting to moisten soil and help establish new roots.
  7. Add mulch. Spread 2-3 inches of shredded bark, leaves, pine needles or other organic mulch over the soil.

Other important tips for care include providing regular water if dry weather persists, staking taller mums and keeping seed heads removed to promote more blooms.

Overwintering Mums

While many mums are sold as annuals, some gardeners choose to overwinter them as perennials. Here are some overwintering tips:

  • Wait to cut plants back until spring when new growth begins.
  • Cover the dormant plants with a layer of mulch 4-6 inches thick after the ground has frozen.
  • In very cold climates, construct a frame over plants and fill with leaves or straw for added insulation.
  • Remove covering in spring once danger of frost has passed. Divide overgrown plants and replant.

Overwintered mums may bloom later in fall the following year but can live for many seasons in the garden.


October planting of mums can be successful with careful selection of hardy varieties and proper planting techniques. While earlier fall planting is ideal, gardeners in many areas can still transplant mums until mid-fall. Focus on providing extra water and protection from frost. With the right care, October-planted mums will thrive and extend the flourish of fall color before the winter months arrive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of mums are best for October planting?

Look for hardy, late-season mum varieties rated for your climate. Some good options include the Da Vinci and Katie mums series which bloom well into fall.

Where is the best place to plant mums in the fall?

Mums do best in full sun locations with well-draining soil. Plant them in garden beds, along walkways, in containers on porches or anywhere you want a burst of autumn color.

How long do mums bloom when planted in October?

You can expect anywhere from 2-6 weeks of bloom time from mums planted in October depending on your climate and when cold weather settles in.

Should I water mums planted in fall?

Yes, be sure to check soil moisture regularly and water mums planted in fall whenever the top few inches become dry. Proper watering is crucial during root establishment.

Do I need to fertilize mums planted in the fall?

Fertilizing is generally not needed at planting time. But you can add a balanced, slow-release fertilizer a few weeks later to support plant growth and blooming.

Key Takeaways

  • While not ideal, mums can be planted successfully in October in many climates.
  • Hardy late-season mum varieties are best suited for fall planting dates.
  • Provide extra water during dry periods to support root growth.
  • Add mulch after planting to conserve moisture and insulate the soil.
  • Protect plants if frost is expected using covers or cloches.
  • October mums offer shorter but still vibrant fall flower color.

With attention to variety selection, planting practices, watering, and protection, October can still be a viable planting time for welcoming mums into your fall garden. The autumn floral display will be shorter but colorful nonetheless.