Gorgeous Garden Mums
With autumn’s arrival, you may find yourself missing the beauty of summer’s lovely blooms. But take heart, for fall brings with it a whole new set of gorgeous gardening options to bless our yards and homes.
One such option is the chrysanthemum – with its blooms lasting for weeks and its abundant number of flowers, you will surely fall in love with this seasonal garden favorite. Hundreds of hardy varieties, each with different colors and bloom shapes, will add vibrancy and interest to any autumn landscape.
Garden mums are superb for use as specimens in foundation plantings, massed in beds, or grouped in plantings of three or five for colorful and dramatic focal points in your landscape. Versatile garden mums can be planted either as young plants in the spring, or as flowering plants in the fall. Beautiful garden mum hanging baskets add a finishing touch to any porch. And since mums grow into wonderful mounds of flowers, they are perfect for use in containers. Use them on patios, decks, front porch steps, in window boxes, and by your backyard pool. Mums are easily planted while in bud and in bloom into urns, barrels, and other attractive containers – and they mix well with other plants, as well as ornamental peppers, sedge grass, creeping jenny, and pansies.
If you’re looking to kick off the fall season with these garden beauties, here are some things to keep in mind – not just during the current fall season, but all year long – to keep them healthy, lovely, and lush.
Plant young plants in a sunny location (at least a half-day of sun), in fertile, well-drained soil. Soils can be improved by adding com-post and other organic matter. Flowering plants can be placed in any location where a splash of color is desired, but will grow best in a sunny location. A two- to three-inch layer of the mulch of your choice around the plants will protect them from heat and cold, plus conserve water.
One inch of rain or irrigation per week is sufficient to keep your garden mums growing well. During dry spells, and in containers, water as needed to keep plants from wilting. Always thoroughly water-in any freshly planted garden mums.
During the growing season, use organic fertilizer once per month or a liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks. If planting mums in the fall, no fertilizer is needed until they begin to grow the following spring.
To encourage branching and development of compact bushy plants, it is very important to pinch back your garden mums in the spring as soon as the new growth is four to six inches tall. Use your thumbnail and index finger to remove or “pinch” about half of the new growth at the top of each shoot. Repeat this procedure through the summer whenever new shoots are three to five inches long. Stop pinching around July 15.
Keep your garden mums’ soil moist as winter approaches. There is no need to prune back plants until the following spring. And if you haven’t already mulched this year, do so around the plants after several hard frosts with the mulch of your choice (but avoid using freshly chipped wood or fresh sawdust). In spring, remove any old garden mum stems (a rake works fine for this task) and make sure mulch isn’t sitting right over the crown of the plant.