Skip to Content

How To Prune Mums For Awesome Autumn Blooms

Are you wondering how to prune mums? Mums, often known as “the golden flower,” are an asset to any garden. If taken care of appropriately, mums can stay beautiful year-round even without flowers. They also provide background foliage all through the growing season. It is, however, essential to provide the proper maintenance and care. Part of that maintenance includes knowing when and how to prune them. 

Mums are typically pruned in the spring and prefer a cooler environment; it is also essential to begin pruning between mid-June and the beginning of July to keep your mums looking beautiful year-round. Cutting the side shoots and pinching the buds are crucial to keeping your mums healthy.

A potted mum plant with a couple of pumpkins in front of it

Mums, short for the chrysanthemums, are significant in many cultures. In China, the mum was cultivated as a flowering herb. In the United States, it is best known for its cheerful bloom. In this article, I want to discuss, in-depth, how to keep your mums beautiful year-round and the essentials it requires.

Learn more about how to grow chrysanthemums.

Garden mums (Chrysanthemum morifolium) are herbaceous perennial plants that are typically grown as annuals. They come in a wide range of colors and bloom from late summer into late fall. They are generally low-maintenance plants, but they can benefit from being pinched back once or twice during the growing season. Pinching the buds forces the plant to put on more blooms 🙂

Want more fall flowers? Here are 5 plants every fall garden needs.

How to Prune Mums

When we talk about pruning mums, you’ll hear some people talk about “pinching them back”. What does this mean and should you do it? Pinching back mums is a simple task that can make a big difference in the health and appearance of your plants.

Chrysanthemums typically start flower buds in early summer and over time, they may start to grow in a bush-like manner. But then, if they are not pinched back, and depending on the weather and environment, they can become “leggy”. This means they don’t appear as full and bushy, as many people love the plant to be. 

Pinching back mums encourages bushier growth and more abundant flowering. It is best to pinch mums back when they are 6-8 inches tall. To pinch a mum, simply use your fingers to remove the top 2-3 inches of growth.

Pinching back mums is a relatively easy task that can produce big results in terms of plant health and aesthetics. You can pinch mums back starting in early spring and going until around mid-summer in most climates. 

Learning to prune your mums properly will help you grow the most beautiful, full, bushy flowers possible. You will also start to get a feel for when and how much to prune naturally, based on the growth patterns of your plants.

Hardy mums can last late into the season, especially when you know how to care for them properly. Let’s look at a step-by-step guide for getting started. 

How To Prune Mums In 7 Easy Steps

A hand holding a pruning tool.

Pruning mums can be a simple process if done correctly. However, if not done correctly, you could find yourself in a situation where your mums are not blooming at the correct times and are either dying from the heat or the cold. This step-by-step should ensure your mums are healthy all year round.

  1. Get all your tools ready, including a pair of garden scissors
  2. Wash your hands to avoid getting any bacteria that you may have on your hands onto the mum plants. Alternatively, you can wear garden gloves
  3. Inspect the plant. The last thing you want is to miss anything, especially diseased or dying buds. Also, you may notice that pruning might be ineffective if the plant is too far gone into budding
  4. Remove any of the mums that look diseased or dying from as close to the ground as possible
  5. To maximize plant growth, cut off up to 50 percent above the leaf nodes (this will cause the mums to bush out strong and create more flowering tips)
  6. Pinch off the tips of the mums to increase branching on the plant
  7. Try to keep the mum plant in a sheltered and cool environment

Follow all of those steps on how to prune mums, and you should be good.

When Is The Best Time To Prune Mums?

Lots of mums in differnt colors: cream, yellow, and burgundy.

Gardeners have long debated about the best time to prune mums. Some say that mums should be pruned in the fall after they’ve bloomed. Others argue that mums should be pruned in the spring before they start to grow. So which is correct? The answer may depend on the type of mum you’re growing.

If you’re growing a hardy mum, then fall is probably the best time to prune it. This will give the plant time to recover from the pruning before winter sets in. However, if you’re growing a delicate mum, then spring may be the better choice. By pruning in the spring, you’ll help to promote new growth and prevent the plant from becoming too leggy. Ultimately, the best time to prune mums is probably whichever time gives you the results you’re looking for.

What Happens If You Don’t Prune Mums

Mums are easy to maintain. However, doing so correctly and waiting for them to blossom at the right time takes a lot of patience. So, it is entirely understandable that you may have questions about what happens if you do not prune them. Here is what can happen if you do not prune your mums:

  • you will get tall leggy plants the following year
  • they’ll only bloom for a short period in the summer
  • you will most likely need to use plant support to keep leggy stems from flopping over through the season
  • they won’t be as full of blooms as they should be, which can be a bit of a disappointment

How Do You Prepare Mums For Winter

Mums covered in snow.

Depending on the climate you live in, winter can be pretty harsh on plants and flowers. I have once made the mistake of not winterizing my flowers when needed, and trust me, it can be highly frustrating. So, here’s how you prepare your chrysanthemums for the winter.

  • Plant them in well-draining soil. In most cases, it is not the winter cold that kills the Mums but rather the frost that forms around the roots. If the mums are planted in more compact soil, it is more likely for the frost to collect around the roots.
  • Use a somewhat sheltered location to avoid exposure to too much of the winter chills.
  • Cut back the dead or diseased stems of the mum as close to the ground as possible while leaving a little bit of the stem to ensure the next year you have a complete plant.
  • Provide a generous amount of mulch: it can be either leaves, straw, or wood mulch, which will ensure that the ground is properly insulated.

Yes, not all climates are the same, but if you feel like you will have a colder-than-usual winter, I highly recommend following all the steps above as it will make your life much easier.

With these tips, you can care for your chrysanthemums from the very start to the end of the growing season, through the first frost, late winter, and back to spring again. 

How Do You Care For Mums After Pruning?

Not caring for your chrysanthemum plant after pruning can be fatal to your plant’s health, which can be very frustrating after putting in all the effort.

  1. Prune the dead stems down to the base of the plant.
  2. Add fresh compost or fertilizer to the soil.
  3. Make sure your num is getting some sun.
  4. Remember to water mums after pruning.
  5. Watch for insects as new growth begins.

How to Prune Mums FAQs

Here are some questions people sometimes have about maintaining their mums. 

Is it too late to cut back mums? 

The good news is that it’s not too late to cut back mums! In fact, doing so can actually help to prolong the blooming period. Mums should be cut back when they start to show signs of decline, such as yellowing leaves or wilting flowers. Cutting the plants back will encourage new growth, and the mums will likely bloom for an extended period of time. So if your mums are looking a bit neglected, go ahead and give them a trim – they’ll thank you for it!

How do you trim dead mums? 

Trimming mums is a simple process that can be done with a pair of sharp scissors. First, cut off any dead or dying flowers. Next, trim the stems back to about six inches. Finally, shape the plant by trimming away any scraggly leaves or branches. By following these simple steps, you can keep your mums looking their best all season long.

Will potted mums bloom a second time? 

Potted mums are a popular fall decoration, bringing a touch of color to porches and patios everywhere. But what happens when the blooms start to fade? Can potted mums be revived for the second season of bloom? The answer is yes, with a little bit of care. Once the flowers have faded, cut back the stems to about six inches. fertilize the plant, and water it well. Then, place the pot in a sunny spot indoors and keep the soil moist. With a little TLC, and if the weather is nice, your potted mums will give you a few more blooms. So enjoy those fall mums for an extra long season of color.

Do you prune potted mums?

Although many people toss their potted mums after the fall/winter season when they die off, many hardy mum varieties can be saved and will rebloom next year. Pruning is necessary whether your mums are in the ground or in pots. Yes, you can still prune your potted mums.

More Pruning Guides


Hopefully, you now have all the necessary answers and can adequately care for your mums. Pruning the plant does not have to be a complicated process, but because it is a seasonal plant, it is best to ensure that you prune them correctly to get the most out of your plant all year long. As you can see, mums are very hardy plants. A good rule of thumb is to pinch them back to prevent them from getting too leggy. 

It’s a good idea to prune your mums so you can enjoy a lush, compact shape and many beautiful blooming bursts of color in your fall garden now and in the seasons to come. There are many varieties of garden mums, so be sure you learn what variety you have so you know how their bloom cycle works. This helps you know when to prune for the best results. Chrysanthemum plants are a gift that keeps on giving as they rebloom and stay beautiful and also keep new green growth even when they are not in bloom. It’s easy to see why this is such a popular plant. 

How to prune mums.

Pin To Save For Later

How To Grow Chrysanthemums: A Step-by-step Guide

Saturday 14th of January 2023

[…] Pruning chrysanthemums is an important part of maintaining healthy plants. Here are some tips: […]

How To Prune Tomato Plants - A Simple, Straightforward Guide

Friday 13th of January 2023

[…] How to prune mums […]

How To Prune A Hibiscus - 5 Ways To Trim It For Gorgeous Flowers

Thursday 10th of November 2022

[…] How to prune mums […]

How To Prune Roses To Keep Them Blooming Beautifully

Thursday 10th of November 2022

[…] How to prune mums […]

5 Favorite Plants For Fall Gardens

Tuesday 1st of November 2022

[…] garden mums (see how to prune mums) […]