Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Marvelous Mums

Ahhh fall. What a wonderful time of year. The weather cools off, the leaves on the trees turn gorgeous colors before their timely demise, fall plantings are being done around the country and the marvelous Mum is one of the main focuses of the garden.

For those that don’t know, “mum” is short for Chrysanthemum. They come in many wonderful colors including a couple of my favorites, orange mums and purple mums. Yellow mums are fine and are beautiful in the garden, but the orange and purple shout out “it’s fall!” and have that comfy, homey feel.

Every year, I spend my hard earned dollars buying mums for my container garden. I’ve never planted them in the ground. That could explain why my mum’s always bite the dust before their time. This year however is going to be a little different. I’ll still have a few in containers, but I think I am going to plant a few in the ground and see how they do. And after some reading up on the subject, I’ve got a clue as to what I was doing wrong before. Here’s how to grow mums, unlike what I had done previously!

Mums prefer full sun and a well drained soil. So plant them somewhere that you get the most sun in the months of waning sunlight. They love good compost. If you don’t make your own, get some from the local nursery or home improvement store. You’ll definitely be rewarded for it! Spread the compost around the mums after you’ve planted them in the ground. But be careful…mum’s aren’t crazy about crowds so limit somewhat how many you plant together. The less crowded they are, the better circulation they get for disease prevention.

Did you know that mums bloom according to the length of sunlight they get? So as the days get shorter, mums adjust and bloom accordingly. So be sure not to plant them under a street light or your porch light. Seriously! It’ll just mess ‘em up and confuse them!

Don’t let them dry out between watering, but don’t overwater them either. They like to stay moist, not soaked.

If you want lots of blooms, be sure to pinch them back. This means you want to literally pinch off the head of the flower once it’s been spent. This encourages growth and you’ll be rewarded with more blooms each time!

Feeding is important to mums, especially considering what they go through. Let’s face it…it’s tough to go through months of cold weather without any food! Of course, I recommend Foliar Feed and SeaResults from the Happy Gardener. Foliar Feed will feed the plants, giving them the nutrients they need to get through the cooler months ahead and you only need use it monthly. The same with SeaResults. SeaResults give it a fertilizer “boost” to help overall plant growth and bloom . It will also increase your mum’s resistance to frost damage in the winter. Again, once a month is all that is needed. And SeaResults will get you 50 gallons of scrumptious (for your plants anyway) fertilizer!

So there you have it. I will heed my own advice this year and take better care of my mums. Maybe I can get them to bloom in spring this time.

Happy Gardening!

Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener

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