Hello again, savvy savers! When fall arrives, it’s hard not to regret the passing of all the summer blooms we love so much. From dahlias to daisies, zinnias, asters, coreopsis, and calendulas, or as we call them in the south, elephant ears, there are so many friends we must bid adieu when the leaves being to fall each year.
Fortunately, the fall season offers gardeners, homeowners, and season decorators of all walks of like one of mother nature’s must beautiful and affordable season varieties, the chrysanthemum. This diva of the Fall, full of blooms in a myriad of hues, makes up for all that summer gardeners can desire. Best of all, with the mum’s lasting longevity, you’ll have a plant that pulls not only its weight in the garden each year, but for many seasons to come.
And with the Autumn season in full swing, here are a few tips for those looking to get started caring for their mums this year to help you make the most of your next mum purchase, before heading out to your local nursery:
1) Generally speaking, it’s best to buy mums as soon as night temps drop into the fifties, by mid-September. This is, of course, the rule unless you live below the Mason-Dixon line, in which case Back-to-School sales also signal the time to buy mums!
2) So, you may be thinking, which plants to buy? The answer is simple. Buy the colors and varieties best zoned for your area, with the only overall area of caution is to buy plants only as they start to break bud. You’ll maximize bloom time. Another trick, to make sure you are buying the right color and variety, be sure to match the blooms-to-tags, to find the color and type of flower you’re after. Always check plant tags with their handy cross-referenced blooms to avoid stock and shock error; garden centers usually group like selections together, but errors can happen.
3) You will stretch your saving-saving dollar by choosing darker shades, such as bronze and burgundy as spent, wilted flowers are less noticeable. The same is true for mums with double, as opposed to single, daisy-like blooms, especially for yellow and white varieties.
4) Like hair, lattes, and mums, bigger IS better! Inevitably, what you see in-store, is what you will get for the rest of the growing season. So, to ensure your displays are top notch, buy the bigger plant.
5) Once buds start to open on mums, you’re pretty-much-guaranteed flowers―no matter where you display them.
6) Your mum’s soil must stay be moist, but never sopping wet. Check daily while the current seasonal weather is warm, especially in the deep south, and then every other day when it’s cooler. If plants dry out, submerge in a bucket of water, or jab a sharp pencil into the soil several times and then water.
7) Fertilizing is not necessary for mums; though compost can be applied post-growing season, every other year.
8) Always remove faded mum blooms to encourage even more buds to open, and you’ll have color through October.
9) For those with mums planted in-ground, early August is the time to stop plucking blooms off of plants, start concentrated feedings, add new mulch, and let the growing season commence for your mums.
10) Chrysanthemums grow best and produce the most vibrant array of flowers if they are planted in full sunshine. They respond to plenty of food and moisture.
Be sure to recap:
- There are hundreds of varieties of Chrysanthemums, giving you a multitude of options for height, color, flower size and time of bloom.
- If you live above the Mason-Dixon line, purchase the earlier bloomers.
- Mums can be started as seeds, from cuttings and dividing, or can be purchased at a nursery in sizes from bedding plants up to gallon size and larger plants.
- They should be planted into well-prepared, fertile, sandy soil.
By Thanksgiving, pluck all of your mum blossoms off of your plants, so that they can start their natural dormancy stage this winter.
- Water mums weekly, fertilize monthly with liquid plant food.
- At the end of the season, generally, post-Thanksgiving, cut back plants to four inches, and re-mulch your beds a second time, to prevent winter frost.
So, those are my tips for growing mums. If you have any mum care tips, pictures, or advice, shoot me an email or leave me a message and I’d love to feature you next week on my weekly gardening post.
Here’s to gardening,