Bill came in from taking pictures of my flowers the other day and referring to mums said, “As many as you have out there, you don’t have enough!”
I have recently read that chrysanthemums (mums) are one of the most popular flowers in the world, next only to the Rose. I can see why. For 32 years they have been the crowning glory of fall’s display in my garden and continue to amaze me at how they can perform in adverse conditions with hardly a nod from me.
Now is the time of year that folks enjoy buying potted mums to decorate their porches and front yards. Goodness knows I’ve bought my share in past years. If you plant these in your borders at least 6 weeks or more before a killing frost you have a fair chance of their become established and blooming for you next year.
Your Best Investment
The best investment is to purchase mail-order mums where you are given a choice of cultivars to choose from and you will receive a single stemmed rooted cutting to be planted in the spring. These should reward you for many years with spectacular color and bloom in the fall.
Lots of Variety
If you don’t have mums, by all means plan to include them in your budget for spring! If you do have mums – plan to order a different variety or cultivar. There are so many kinds and so many colors and each one puts on a different display.
Also, many will start blooming by the end of August, some in September, some October and some as late as the first of November. Mums hold up against light frosts and are beautiful to behold with a light frost glistening on the blossoms in the early morning. Hard frost and freeze will do a lot of damage, but in Virginia’s tidal areas we have a good chance of mums looking great until December.
Easy to Transfer
Many of the mums that I have were moved from my prior gardens when we moved into our current home 12 years ago. Being in a hurry to get lots of plants transferred in a short period of time, I just dug up big clumps of mums and then broke them apart before transplanting.
Not fussy about soil.
When my borders were first started the soil in some places was very poor. Over the years, with the decaying of the prior year’s vegetation and straw used for mulch has improved the soil. I’ve seen no difference, however, in the performance of the mums. They did just as well the first year as they have done in recent years.
Good Drainage and Air Circulation
I do want to mention that all my borders have good drainage and allow for good air circulation. These are conditions that most plants need. (Good drainage would not be necessary for “bog area” plants of course.)
They like at least one-half day of sun. Most of mine get even more.
Maintenance and Starting New Plants
In late winter or early spring when I’m looking at my borders with an eye for the coming season, I cut back last season’s foliage. If I cut before this, I leave the cuttings on top of the roots as a protection from winter cold.
If they have overspread their designated area, I pull some up from the outside edge. These pieces can be planted in areas where I want more of this mum. Works great and keeps things easy ——taking even less time than cuttings.
If the center of the clump has become too woody, I just pull it up. This will rejuvenate the clump and I don’t have to take up the entire thing and divide it.
WARNING: the following information is NOT popular. More than likely you won’t find it elsewhere. When I do it, it makes my husband cringe. In spite of all that —–it has worked for me for 32 years and has worked for anyone who has followed my example.
It keeps the plants from getting too tall and leggy. Here it is:
- When my mum foliage is looking fantastic in the spring and is up about 8 to 12 to 15 inches – I cut it to the ground!
- Then when it recovers and is looking great again —- usually sometime in June —-cut it by half again.
- (I never cut after the end of June or first of July since I would run the risk of cutting off developing flower buds.)
By the time “ready to open” buds cover the plants, the stalks have lots of branches and buds and they are only about 2 or 3 feet tall. (My new large-blossomed mums were about 3 1/2 feet tall.)
Of course, when you first plant your single stemmed rooted cuttings, you’ll leave them untouched until the second season.
Another note that may benefit you:
In prior years of drought it has never seemed to effect the mums. This year — since the mums literally stopped growing and many wilted —- I wondered if this would be the first year in 32 years that the mums would be less than beautiful. Well, as you can see by the pictures included here, they were spectacular — even more so than in past years!
One last thing I noticed about this years blooms ——-a result of the drought, I think —-they were not covered with various insect life as they usually are. No bugs at all in August or September. Very few in October, but now they seem to be increasing a little bit. The only damage these various bugs do is make little holes in the petals or brown spots on them. If I make arrangements, I have to be selective, but other than that its not a problem for me. They still beautify my borders just fine.
Plan to add different mums each year. You might discover what Bill found to be true is true for you as well: “As many mums as you have out there, you don’t have enough! ”
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