Pot mums, also called florist's mums, are a popular potted plant available from flower shops. One reason for their popularity is that they produce an abundance of blooms and they are available in a large range of colors. They have come to be associated with spring gift-giving, often showing up for Easter or Mother's Day. There's no need to toss the plant after it flowers; you can instead enjoy this floral gift for many years with the help of this guide.

Understand the flowering cycle

The mums you are given in spring may be flowering, but that is because they were forced, or tricked, into blooming at this time. Many people dispose of their mums because they think they won't flower again. Fortunately, pot moms are closely related to the same chrysanthemums that grace your late summer and fall garden with flowers. So although it can be difficult to impossible to get them to flower early or to even achieve inside blooming, treating them more like garden mums after the first blooming cycle can lead to success.

Weather conditions

Unlike the hardier garden mums, pot mums can't tolerate extended freeze periods. They can usually survive short freezes though. This means that if you live somewhere that has extremely cold winters, you may not want to put them directly into the ground if you want them to survive. You can continue to grow them as indoor foliage plants, but they may not bloom again.

If you prefer outside growing, there is a method that sometimes works in cold area. Transplant the mum into a larger pot. Dig a hole in the garden bed the same width and an inch or two deeper than the pot, and then drop the pot in and cover lightly with soil. Come fall, before a major frost but after the foliage begins to die back, lift the pot and store it in an unheated but frost-protected area, such as a garage. You can then place the pot back outdoors in late winter or early spring when growth resumes.

Transplanting and basic care

Pot mums grow best in full sunlight and moderately fertile garden soils. Consider planting them near your home or a fence so they have some winter cold protection. Water regularly throughout spring and summer, keeping the soil moist but not soggy.

A basic flower fertilizer, applied at the package recommended rate in spring, is usually sufficient. Pinch back the growing tips of each stem in early summer, before buds appear, to encourage fuller and bushier growth. If you don't pinch back, the mums usually bloom in mid to late summer but the plants aren't very full. Pinching delays bloom for a couple of weeks but results in fuller plants with more flowers.

For more help, contact a flower shop in your area.