As we head into fall here in Salt Lake City, the daylight hours get shorter and our outdoor plants take up less of our time, if you find yourself missing the colorful bounty of summer, now is the perfect time to remedy that situation, and to plan ahead to extend next year's flowering season.

Chrysanthemums - also known as simply mums - are the darling of fall gardens. Hardy, showy and available in a rainbow of hues, these stalwarts are the perfect antidote to gray skies and falling temperatures.

Over-Wintering Garden Plants

If these cheerful, pom-pon-like blooms are not yet part of your garden, you can still enjoy their beauty in potted form - use them to decorate your porch, patio or even your dining room table. You can try to overwinter them to plant in spring, but only if they're the hardy variety. Check with a friendly, helpful Millcreek Gardens sales associate before buying so you get the type of chrysanthemums you want.

After your chrysanthemums have finished blooming, water them well (don't prune!) and store them in a cool (not freezing!) dark area such as a basement or garage. Check on them weekly to ensure their roots stay damp. When spring comes, get them used to daylight slowly before planting them in the ground.

Plant Shop Tips from Our Experts

Although chrysanthemums are perennials, there's no guarantee they will live beyond a single growing season. But you can give them a helping hand!

First, you'll want to choose an area of your yard that gets a lot of sun from late summer through the fall months.

Chrysanthemums do best in well-drained soil, so pick a spot with less clay and more sand, if you can. Get some peat moss or compost from our garden nursery to mix into the soil to help provide your mums with just the right amount of moisture and nutrients. Next, dig a hole two or three times bigger than the root ball - 8 to 12 inches deep should be about right - and mix in your additives.

Chrysanthemum Care

It's tempting to plant your mums close together so they'll look like big, fluffy pillows come fall, but try to resist. Remember your plants will grow and develop all summer long, and you want them to have the space to do this. Also use a light hand to add fertilizer to mums - too much stimulates an awkward-looking growth spurt.

Once your mums start to bloom next fall, keep them thick and fluffy by pinching off any new leaves that develop near the blossoms. You want all the plant's energy to go to its flowers!

If someone gifts you mums from a floral shop, don't plant them outside; these types of mums are more delicate and meant to be enjoyed as indoor plants only.

Good Advice from Our Garden Nursery

When you're shopping for chrysanthemums, ask us about adding toad lilies or asters to into your plan for abundant color in your outdoor garden next fall.

Depend on Millcreek Gardens for all your gardening supply needs. We're the gardening experts who love to help our Salt Lake City customers in caring for all their outdoor and indoor plants year-round.