Can Potted Mums Survive in the Shade?

Mums are among the more popular plants in the gardening community due to their bright, beautiful flowers that enrich both garden and home aesthetics.  You can plant them in both gardens and pots; however, with potted mums, you get the option of keeping them indoors—or do you? Can Potted Mums Survive in the Shade?

Potted mums will not survive in the shade as they require high amounts of sunlight. Experts recommend that you expose your mums to at least five to six hours of sunlight daily. While they can survive in partial shade, they will not grow up as healthy as their sunny outdoor counterparts.

Nothing is more striking than the bright blooms of a chrysanthemum, but to produce these beautiful flowers. Please read to discover the sunlight requirements of mums, why they don’t do so well in the shade, and how heat and cold can influence their growth and health. 

Why Mums Don’t Do Well in the Shade

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that mums do not do well at all in the shade. This lack of shade tolerance is because they need large quantities of sunlight to thrive. 

Mums and Sunlight

Mums are sunlight-loving plants with optimal sunlight settings that are fully under the sun, with no shade. This exposure to the sun’s rays allows for their best growth and health.

Chrysanthemums are native to the warm and sunny regions of East Asia and are abundant in areas such as China. Thus they are sun-loving plants as it mimics the natural habitat of their point of origin. 

While they technically only need six hours of sunlight a day during the summer months, more will be better, and less might negatively impact their growth.

Lack of adequate sunlight can adversely affect your chrysanthemums, such as low bud counts and decreased plant health. Excess shade may cause weak stem growth and encourage foliar fungus and root rot. 

It is seldom necessary for a grower to restrict sunlight for mums during their growth period; however, intense heat can warrant limiting the amount of direct sunlight the plant receives.

The Effects of Shade on Mums

We have established that more sunlight is usually better, but what happens when not enough (less than six hours of) sunlight per day is all the mums get? While the effects are very well defined and noticeable, they tend not to be overwhelmingly severe.

When mums do not receive enough sunlight, the most common and noticeable effect is slowing their growth. When placed side by side with another pot of mums that received direct sunlight, you can tell the difference in size. 

The pot of mums in the shade will not be able to compare to the one directly under the sun.

Additionally, the potted mums positioned in the shade will produce fewer flowers. They will not bloom well and certainly won’t bloom for as long as mums under the sun.

If deprived of sunlight entirely, you might notice that your mum’s become weak, thin, and spindly. You might also see their flowers turn brown—this indicates the flowers are wilting and dying. Something no gardener would want to see when it’s premature. 

However, this is quite unlikely to happen if your potted mums are near sunlight (so that they are getting indirect sunlight, at the very least) or you position them in a way that does allow them to get a few hours of sunlight a day.

If your mums begin to turn brown, sunlight might be one of several factors responsible. The soil might have insufficient nutrients, or you overwatered or underwatered your mums.

Even though your potted mums will most likely survive indoors, in the shade, they simply won’t grow up as healthy and beautiful as they should be. A flourishing and healthy mum plant requires direct sunlight for the six hours a day benchmark.

Heat and Cold Effect on Chrysanthemum

Extremely hot and cold environments can create differences in the amount of sunlight your potted mum plant needs.

Heat, in particular, plays a defined role in limiting the amount of sunlight you should expose your mum to, especially during scorching afternoons.

Mums are generally resistant to heat up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius). However, heat can become a problem and damage your mums once you go above this temperature.

Of course, direct exposure to sunlight adds to the amount of heat your mum experiences. So if you live where the temperature regularly and persistently goes over 90℉ (32.2 ℃), it would probably be a good idea to position your mums in a way that allows for partial shade.

Since, in this case, we are talking about potted mums, you would also have the option to physically remove them from the sunlight and place them under the shade when it gets intense, such as during the afternoon.

Similar to how extreme heat will damage your mums, cold will also take its toll on them. Temperatures under 20 ℉ (-6.6 ℃)  are unsuitable for your mum’s long-term.

If you are experiencing these temperatures regularly, it would probably be best to let your potted mum soak as much of the limited sunlight it can access. However, keeping potted mums inside during extreme weather conditions such as snowstorms, hailstorms, or frost, is advisable. 

If you do not want to relocate the potted mums indoors, covering them with a sheet or something similar until the weather normalizes again is also an option.

Heat and frost can damage your mum’s flowers while it is blooming, and harsh cold, in particular, might cause color changes. If you want to learn more, you can read my other article on why your mums are turning purple: Why Are Your Mums Turning Purple? 6 Reasons

How To Adjust the Shade for Mums

Although keeping your mums in the shade if you don’t have to probably isn’t a great idea, there are things you can do to maximize their growth potential and preserve their health. Who doesn’t like beautiful mums in full bloom, right?

  1. Maximize Sunlight. If you have to place your potted mums indoors, try your best to do so in a place with some sunlight access, like near a bright window. If this is not possible, go for as close to direct sunlight as possible, as that is still better than no sunlight.
  2. Pay attention to soil quality. While sunlight plays a significant role in the health of your mums, there are other important factors, like the quality of the soil. Whether potted or otherwise, mums require high-quality, nutrient-rich soil that can drain water efficiently. A pH of 6.0 – slightly acidic to slightly alkaline – is ideal for mums.
  3. Consider temperature. You may have moved your mums indoors temporarily for protection from outside weather conditions, which is certainly advisable. Remember that mums can generally survive temperatures of 20℉ to 90℉ (-6.67℃ – 32.22℃) and that sudden or rapid temperature changes are detrimental to their health.
  4. Ensure you provide adequate water. It can be challenging to determine how much water you need in potted mums (having soil that drains efficiently helps a lot here), but you should be fine if you don’t let the soil dry up. You can use once every two days as a rough benchmark, but consider that temperature, weather, and soil impact this number. Do not directly water the plant or plant foliage, but rather the soil.
  5. Deadhead often for wilted blooms. You should remove damaged, dead, or dry flowers that have turned brown or purple. This pruning will help your mum bloom better and longer as it channels the plant’s reserves into new growth. 

Final Thoughts

Mums are sun-loving plants. Whether potted or planted in the garden, they need, on average, a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day for optimal growth and health. 

While six hours is technically enough, more sunlight is always almost beneficial. In most cases, it’s best to have your mums positioned directly under the sun.

The only exception to having them exposed to the sun entirely is if temperatures are too high, which can cause damage to the plant. Intense cold is also a threat, in which case, sunlight can prove to be beneficial. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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