Mums are the most spectacular of fall-blooming perennial flowers, often blossoming until the snow flies. But winter hardiness has always been such a problem that many gardeners considered them annuals. The “Minn” series from decades ago showed some improvement, and still merits planting, but they frequently winter-kill. The series includes names like Minnautumn, Minngopher, Minnyellow, etc.
A few years ago the University of Minnesota introduced a new series of mums that is catching on with regional gardeners because for the first time they’re finding it reliably winter-hardy.
If you’d like to try perennial Mammoth mums, here’s the scoop:
- We usually think of mums in the fall, when blooming pots are retailed, but to establish sufficiently for winter survival, mums must be planted in spring or early summer. Fall planting is rarely successful.
- A few locally-owned garden centers are handling Mammoth mums. I was able to buy several plants recently in Fargo.
- Mammoth mums grow large. By the second season they become a mass of flowers 3 to 4 feet high and wide. Local gardeners who have grown them the past several years verify both the hardiness and the size.
- Mums like moisture, so provide regular watering, plus fertilizer during the first half of summer.
- Mums survive winter best if the tops remain intact during winter. Remove in early spring.
I recently planted six Mammoth mums, and I’m excited to see how they do. With most perennials, the first season is not as robust as the seasons following, but I’m hoping this first autumn will be colorful.