Thursday, October 14, 2010


Hardy fall mums are one of the most welcome sites, and one of the best-loved blooms in the garden in the fall.  They bloom from late summer through fall, in a huge assortment of shapes, sizes, and colors, including bronze, purple, yellow, mauve, red, peach, lavender and white.  Their flower form varies as well--singles, daisies, button and large doubles.  One thing that is neat about mums is that both the buds and the flowers withstand light frost, and their buds continue to open long after the annuals have stopped for the season.  They range from 1-foot plants to 2 feet or more.  Another thing that is quite unique about them is their ability to just be 'plopped' in the ground, even in full bloom, and thrive, even in the heat of summer!  Some people see them as annuals--they just put the potted plants where they need color in the ground, and then replace them as soon as they stop flowering.  I keep my garden mums all year long, planting them early in the spring as rooted cuttings.  Mums should be divided annually in spring.  A very interesting thing about fall mums is that they are "short-day" plants, which basically means they need short days and long nights to initiate buds.  If you order by mail, there will be notations telling you if they are early, mid, or late bloomers.  You can easily lengthen your bloom season by paying attention to these choices, and get some of all. Prepare your soil and plant in spring.  They like full sun.  Their roots are very shallow, so work carefully when weeding.  I stake or tie mine to tall poles, continuing to tie them as they grow through the season.   Pinching the stems of fall mums encourages compact, well-branched plants and an abundance of blooms.  And, be sure to pinch any buds before they develop until July 4th.   After that, let them grow.  If you want large, but fewer flowers, remove most of the side buds that will grow on each stem.  (This also shortens your bloom time, though).  Water regularly, and they like to be fed with a good, balanced fertilizer.  Deadhead faded flowers.  After they have bloomed for the year, cut back the plants to 3-6 inches After the ground has frozen solid, mulch.  Avoid mulches that would pack down over the winter--wet conditions lead to crown rot.  Most hardy mums don't need much care other than regular deadheading, and watering during drought.   Chrysanthemums are fast growers, and their clumps tend to die out in the center.  So, frequent division keeps them vigorous.  Another thing that is very desirable is their LONG vase life--one of the longest I've ever worked with.  With their late blooms of such varied colors, their easy growth habit, and not being bothered with many pests, garden mums are very satisfying to grow!

Susanne Holland Spicker Mother, Grandmother, Homemaker, Gardener, Teacher, Photographer

Passion is defined as the love of, or the object(s) of affection and emotion. I am passionate about family, friends, flowers, food, photography and fabulous music! This blog is dedicated to those loves.

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