How To Deadhead Mums [Keeping Mums Blooming]

This is a detailed article on how to deadhead mums, and ultimately keep mums blooming.

Have you ever wondered how some folks can keep their mums looking great and blooming throughout the season seemingly without much effort?

The neat little trick and the best way to do that is known as deadheading.

While deadheading is basically pruning, at a deeper level, it is about prioritizing plant energy.

When plants like mums are deadheaded, processed energy is sent to buds rather than blooms that are old, tired, and dying.

For many, deadheading mums and other plants might seem like a tedious garden chore. It is quite easy and you can easily fit it into your schedule.

Essentially, you could do it while on the phone, listening to music, or even exercising. Exciting right?

So are you ready to learn how to deadhead mums? Let’s dive into it.

How To Deadhead Mums

In agricultural zone 5-9, fall is the time to expect the colorful blooms of mums as long as they are grown in well-draining soil kept regularly moist and exposed to full sun.

Short for chrysanthemums (Dendranthema grandiflorum), the perennial plants come with a long blooming season and can burst forth glorious colors right up to the winter holidays.

And the best part? They can be cultivated effortlessly as indoor houseplants in pots as well as outdoors on garden beds.

Basically, deadheading chrysanthemums refers to the pruning or cutting off of dead or spent blooms or flowers on the plant.

This is easily confused with pruning that targets stalks and stems whether they have spent blooms or not.

For newbies, some degree of nervousness might accompany the idea of cutting their mums. Deadheading, though, is always a good thing especially when done correctly and at the right time.

As well as instantly improving the appearance of the plant like a haircut does, the process promotes plant health and gets the plants ready for the energy-sapping blooming period ahead.

Without deadheading, the plant would bloom once or at most, a couple of times; then it kind of just looks unkempt and dead.

So deadheading is necessary to not only make your mums look good and tidy but to also bloom over and over again.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about deadheading mums, mistakes to avoid, and some care tips you’d find handy while doing it.

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Deadheading Your Mums The Right Way

One of the first questions newbies ask is, ‘When is the best time to deadhead mums?’ There is no absolute best time except to say it’s best to do it in the growing season whether you are growing them indoors or outdoors.

That said, you want to deadhead outdoor mums towards the end of spring to the middle of summer for best results. This gives the plant enough time to produce new growths.

For indoor mums protected from the chills of winter and cold weather, deadheading can be done anytime the blooms are fading or looked spent.

Deadheading mums should be one of your favorite mums’ care chores. If you want your plants to look clean and perfectly arranged, deadheading is what the experts recommend.


  1. All you would need are mums with old, dying, or faded flowers, and shears. If you don’t have shears, a pair of scissors would do just fine.
  2. The first thing you need to do is carefully examine the plant and pick out spent blooms. These are usually discolored to some shade of brown and are not looking good any longer.
  3. Next, you want to identify the buds and blooms. These would be left alone
  4. There is a right way to deadhead mums and there is a wrong way. If you want the result to look really awesome, don’t cut the spent or dying blooms at the top of their stems just below the base of each flower.

This leaves too many sticky stems poking from the plant. In terms of the overall aesthetics you are aiming for, this is way off the mark.

  1. To properly cut or prune the spent blooms, use this simple trick below. That is the difference between making your mum appear like a badly mutilated plant with bare sticky stems poking upwards and an awesome, cute, rounded mound of green mum foliage and blooms.

– After identifying the flowers to deadhead, instead of snipping them off at the top, move down the stem until you are some inches below the bushiest part of the plant. The plan is to ensure the leaves hide the cut stems.

-Simply move down the stem, above 3 leaves down, and cut the stem as close to the next leave as possible. Cutting the stem this way is the key to making everything look great.

Make sure the cut is neat and clean preferably at an angle

– Repeat the process for each stem supporting the target flowers. This might take a while because you can only deadhead one stem at a time.

By the time you are done, only fresh blooms and buds would be visible above the leaf line. The deadheaded stems meanwhile would remain neatly hidden inside the mums’ foliage.

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  • Make sure you sterilize the blades of your shears or scissors to avoid transferring harmful microbes to the mums
  • You don’t have to wait for the dead of faded blooms to accumulate. You can deadhead anytime you see them even if it is just one. That would save you a lot of time.
  • For mums with just a few dead flowers, you could use your fingers to snip the flower by pinching them off the stem.
  • If you spot stems that look dead while deadheading, cut them out
  • Don’t deadhead mums after they start sprouting flowers in the fall especially when grown outdoors in areas that experience cold winters.

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Pinching Your Mums

When talking about deadheading mums or other plants, ‘pinching’ also has to be a part of the conversation if the idea is the overall health of the plant.

Pinching is about cutting off the top of the stems of perennials such as mums to encourage growth and prevent the plant from looking legging. It also promotes a more rounded, bushy look and the production of more flowers in the fall.

Generally, you what to pinch your mums in the growing season. That means, while deadheading, especially in late spring and the beginning of summer, you should also be on the lookout for stems or shoots to cut.


  1. Identify the new shoots you want to pinch. They should be about 5 inches tall, give or take an inch.
  2. Using a pair of sterilized shears or scissors, snip off about 1 inch of the shoot directly under the leaves. You are basically cutting off 1 inch of stem plus the leaves it bears.
  3. If you don’t have sharp shears or scissors, simply use your forefinger and thumb to grasp each shoot and pinch them out cleanly without pulling. You can use your other hand to support the shoot while doing this.
  4. Repeat the process for every long mums’ stem until there is none left.

Mums pinching tips

  • For best results, you need to know if your mums’ cultivar is an early or late cultivator.
  • For late cultivator mums, quit pinching at the beginning of August.
  • It is recommended that you stop pinching early cultivator mums in the middle of June
  • Generally, the best time to stop pinching mums is the middle of July. This gives the plant adequate time to grow and get ready for the blooming season.
  • Stems or shoots with tips that appear dead (discolored or brownish) would benefit from pinching

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Wrapping up

Knowing how to deadhead mums is an essential part of their care, especially if you want the plant to look bushier, be healthier, and bloom for as long as possible. While this is a somewhat tedious garden chore, it is easy to master and can only get less tedious if it is done early. All you need are your cutters and the plant. Even your fingers can be a good substitute for scissors or shears.

As well as deadheading, which is basically pruning out dead or dying flowers, the care routine should also include pinching. This involves cutting long stalks in the growing season to prevent legginess and encourage the production of more flowers. And like deadheading, you can use cutters as well as your fingers to pinch mums.