Water New Mum Plants
I know, it sounds odd to be saying to go out in the Missouri winter cold to water a plant but if you want newly-planted mums to survive, their roots need moisture until they can get established.
Mums have for years been a traditional fall plant to add to a garden for color. Unfortunately planting them that late does not give the plant roots enough time to establish themselves before cold weather arrives. Established roots can go dormant and reappear the following year, which is what happens once mum roots are established.
To pull mums through their first winter, plan on making sure their roots stay hydrated through the cold season, which means watering them a couple of times a month. If you get rain or snow that soon melts, nature is watering them for you.
Here are a couple of examples. This first mum is how most mums look about this time of year: Dry, brown and dead:
If this mum has been kept hydrated since I planted it, it should have some new growth peeking up through the dead branches. Leave dead branches on the plant, they provide young plant starts protection from the elements.
Looking through the dead branches to soil level, especially towards the center of the plant, you will see plant starts.
Another fall-planted mum plant has even less dead material over where the new shoots are growing:
Can you see the new growth underneath? I have been watering these mums every week or so since the mums were planted last fall.
Once the mums start growing in spring, I will cut away the dead cover and gently break up sol around the base with my claw gardening gloves so they can more easily grow.
It’s amazing how these little starts will quickly grow into spring plants given half the chance. Once they make it through this winter, these mums will return on their own for several years without having to be watered through winter.