How to Propagate Mums
Chrysanthemums refer to a genus of flowering plants with great genetic diversity. The Chrysanthemum was widely grown in China during the 15th century B.C as a flowering herb. Stories recount that the boiled roots were used as a headache remedy, the leaves were used as a drink in festivities, and the sprouts and petals were useful in salads.
In 1753 the Swedish botanist, Karl Linnaeus named the flower using the Greek words chrysos and anthemom for ‘gold’ and ‘flower’, which early specimens of the plant resembled. Today we have incredible cultivars with various colors and flower shapes.
There are three main methods to propagating Chrysanthemums; seed, divisions, or cuttings.
Things you will need: A round pointed shovel, potting soil, planting pot, Chrysanthemum plant, Chrysanthemum seed, sharp pair of hand clippers, honey or rooting hormone, pumus/perlite, sharp knife, seed starter mix.
Method 1: Propagate Mums by Seed indoors
Propagating Mums by seeds in early spring is a very inexpensive way to propagate new plants. Start off with is some premixed soil specifically for seeds that you can find at your local nursery or hardware store. You will only need a bag or two to get started.
You will want to fill very small pots, seed trays, or homemade newspaper pots with your seed mix to slightly below the rim. Press down firmly with your fingers. Then follow the seed packet directions for how deeply to plant.
Slowly water in lightly afterward just enough to moisten the soil. Place your seed pots or trays underneath a light fixture with a full spectrum bulb. You can purchase these from hardware stores or online. Many are very inexpensive light fixtures that you can hang in the house or garage.
Just make sure the light bulbs are full spectrum as this will give the best results inside. You want to have the lights only a few inches above the soil until the seeds germinate. After a week or two depending on growth you can raise the lights up higher.
You will want to keep the temperature at 60 to 70 degrees. Initially every other day check the soil to see if it is remaining moist but not soggy. If the soil is drying out water lightly. After the seedlings have rooted in the pots/trays well you will want to watch the soil every day to see if they need additional water.
A week or two before you last frost date (Check online for your region for what day this is usually) take your plants outside into a protected area such as a garage with windows or covered porch and grow them outside for several weeks before planting. This will help your plants to adjust to the temperature difference between inside and outside and harden off.
After 2-3 weeks carefully transplant your new baby plants into the soil. Make sure to plant your plants only as deep as the soil on your transplants. Water in gently as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Method 2: Propagate Mums by Cuttings
The best time for this is late spring or early summer before flower buds have developed. Fill small pots about 3 inches wide with fast draining potting soil, pumus, or perlite. Select a 2-3 inch long section of stem from the top of the plant using the soft newer growth not the woodier growth.
Cut the stem section off the main plant and remove the last pair of leaves near the cutting. Dip the stem into honey (a natural way of preventing bacterial and fungal problems) or rooting hormone and insert the cutting into the soil or perlite.
Place the cutting in bright indirect light. Use a misting bottle or slowly water as needed when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Roots take between 1 to 4 weeks to develop. You can lightly tug on the stem to see if it has developed roots. As new growth emerges you can pinch it back ¼ to ½ inch on each stem a few times to develop a fuller appearance as desired.
Method 3: Propagate Mums by Division
Propagating Mums by division is by far the easiest and fastest method for creating new plants.
Take a sharp knife (butcher works best) and cut straight through the root mass to cut the plant in half. You can repeat to make quarters.
Take each section and pot up with new soil or plant out at the same level in your landscape. Each section is now a new Mum for your enjoyment.
About the Author:
Jonathan Aflatooni is the co-owner of Blacklotus Landscaping LLC and co-owner of Amber Bear Nursery and Farm. Jon has many years of practical experience in the field, from propagating his own collection of plant life to creating and designing new landscapes. He looks forward to sharing with a wider audience some of the insights and knowledge he has gleaned along the way.