Last updated on October 12th, 2021
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Chrysanthemums (affectionally known as ‘mums’) don’t need pruning during the growing season to encourage the development of many lush blooms. This is good news as pruning is an aggressive process that cuts back the branches of the bush to keep it looking neat and allow for new growth, but it does put some stress on the plant while it recovers.
However, you do need to gently pinch parts of the bush off to get the best from your plant and we encourage you to deadhead the bush at the same time.
What should I do instead of pruning my chrysanthemum?
I, as well as many other gardening experts, use the word ‘pinching’ to describe the action you need to take with your mums. If you’re growing perennial mums in your garden, wait until the shoots are about 15cm tall and then pinch off the top 2-3cm of each stem (use secateurs or a sharp pruning knife). This encourages the bush to branch out with side shoots and become filled with blooms.
Repeat this throughout the growing season every fortnight for all your mums every new shoot that appears.
Should I ever prune my chrysanthemum?
Yes. If you notice that some of your plants have been killed off after a frost – usually the top of the bush – then prune those branches back to the live part of the stems. Also, if any part of your chrysanthemum plant is showing signs of disease, cut off that part immediately.
Maybe. At the end of the growing season, when no more flowers are blooming, you have the option of pruning back the perennial plant to 15-20cm above the ground. Just cut off the branches at this height and throw them on the compost pile. The alternative is to just leave the plants as they are over the winter. Personally, I would prune them back but some gardeners don’t.
Reasons to prune at the beginning of winter:
- Leaves your garden looking tidy for the winter months.
- Moisture can’t get into the root through the exposed stems and make them rot.
Reasons to leave the plants alone:
- Leaves drop and turn to compost and mulch for the soil.
- Protection for the new shoots when they appear in the spring.
- Known to produce a stronger and healthier plant in the spring.
Why is deadheading chrysanthemums important? And how to do it.
Deadheading any plant, removing the faded and fading blooms, allows the plant’s energy to be directed to the newly developing buds and flowers. Deadhead the blooms throughout the growing season by cutting off the faded flower with a pair of secateurs or scissors.
At the same time, remove any dead leaves and look around for any signs of disease in the plant. Cut off any branches with signs of rot or fungus, taking care to wipe down your clippers in between cuts so you don’t transfer the disease to other parts of the plant.
At the end of the growing season, you can leave the dead flowers on the plant for visual interest throughout the bleak winter months.
For more information on taking care of perennial mums, head over to our How to keep chrysanthemums over winter article. And for introductory information or as a refresher, the How to grow chrysanthemums – the beginner’s guide is definitely worth reading.