Just as the summer garden is beginning to look, well, a little haggard, in comes the mums! Beginning in September, the nurseries, home improvement stores, and even the local food markets are filled with chrysanthemums. Orange, white, yellow, deep burgundy and even green line the tables. One of the big nurseries near me advertises that they have them “trailer load by trailer load”. And they do! Since there are so many available, they are inexpensive and you can choose several colors to brighten your porch or garden.
But I have a confession to make. I’m not a fan of “mums” and even when I have purchased them for fall decor I never replanted them. They go into the compost pile after the flowers are spent. My late father loved chrysanthemums and bought them every year. I even remember he planted some at the front of his house one year. Since he was born in September, mums are always available to place on his grave.
I’ve decided I’m going to give chrysanthemums a try again this year, and I want to keep them looking good as long as possible. After all, it wouldn’t be fall without mums and pansies!
How to Care for Your Potted Mum:
- Mums come in a variety of colors and types, blooming at different times in the season. If you buy several varieties, you can have mums blooming all season.
- I know it’s tempting to bring home plants that are bursting with color, but if you want to have longer color, choose one that has a mixture of buds and flowers. This way you will have continuous bloom. Look at the leaves and be sure they are nice and green, and the plant is not wilted. Purchasing your mums from a nursery will generally give you plants that have been better cared for.
- Place your mums where they receive at least 6 hours of sun a day. If you have lot’s of buds, they will need 6-8 hours of sunlight to bloom.
- Keep your mums well watered. This means every day, or every other day watering. As I always suggest, use the finger test. Place your index finger down into the soil. If comes back dry, water.
- When watering your mums, water at the base of the plant instead of overhead. Gently pull back the stems and water at soil level. You can also set it in a watering tray. I use watering trays with all of my house plants.
- Keep your mums “deadheaded” to promote new blooms.
- Most mums are perennials and will grow in zones 5-9. Read the plant tag to see if your mum is a perennial. Generally, the mums found in the florist shop are annuals. The mums you purchase at the nursery are “hardy” mums or garden mums and can be transplanted into the garden about 4 weeks before your first frost. Plant in full sun, in a well draining area, and keep the plant mulched to protect the roots. Ideally, mums should be planted in spring.
So, I’ll take another look at mums this year, and add a little fall color to the garden.
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