Chrysanthemums or mums are one of our favorite flowers in the fall. But to get big, bushy plants full of blooms, you'll need to pinch or cut back the plant. This segment demonstrates two different methods to help the flower stems multiply.

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How to Grow Big, Bushy Mums

Chrysanthemums or mums are one of our favorite flowers in the fall. But to get those big, gorgeous plants that bloom in September, October, and November, there’s a little bit of maintenance we need to do during the growing season. What we do is something called pinching back or cutting back. So, instead of one tall shoot, you’ll get a bunch of shoots that are shorter.

If you let this shoot grow, it’s just going to continue to get taller and taller. And it will be real leggy by the time it blooms in the fall. But, by removing this top growth, it’s going to force all the side branches down into the axils of these leaves to develop. So, if I make the cut at this point, then it forces a shoot here, here…and here. So, I’m going to get about six different shoots coming up. They’re going to be shorter, and I’ll have a fistful of blooms this fall.

We pinch or cut back chrysanthemums from the time they start to grow in the spring, and we make our last pinch or last cut around the fourth of July. We stop at that point in time, because then that gives the plant time to put on new growth, and set a flower bud that’s ready to bloom for the fall season.

You can either go in there and individually snip back the shoots with a pair of scissors. This is a little bit time consuming and tedious. So, most gardeners may not want to do that.

However, for the weekend warrior gardener, just get out there with your head shears to cut them back. It’s going to be a lot quicker, and it’s going to be a lot easier. And, it’s still going to allow all those new shoots to break and come up.

Now, the trick to doing this with chrysanthemums is doing this several times. Whenever they put on about two to four inches of growth, then cut that back by about half. Now, you don’t want to cut down into where all those shoots will come back. So, our next cut is going to be a little bit higher, and our last cut is going to be even higher yet. Because, what we’re doing, is taking one stem, multiplying it, and multiplying it several times to get that bushy effect by the end of the season.

This feature story prepared with Dennis Patton, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Johnson County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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