Selecting, planting, and maintaining mums.
By Paul Schnare
Monday, August 25, 2003
To any gardener, fall is synonymous to garden mums. With the hundreds of varieties available, how do you know which ones to choose? Let me give you a hint. First, mums are divided into early, mid, and late-season bloomers. If you want your show of color to be around Halloween, then find late-season bloomers. If you want a show in early September, find early season varieties.
The bloom time can be somewhat deceiving because many of the mums that are found on market in August have been forced to bloom early. If you want blooms on your plants in October, don’t buy mums that are in bloom in August. When October arrives, the blooms will be spent and all you’ll have left is green foliage with brown, dead blooms.
Secondly mums are primarily divided into cushion mums and daisy mums. Cushion mums have so many petals that the bloom forms what appears to be a cushion. Daisy mums usually have one row of petals that surround the center of the flower, the pistil and stamens.
Finally, probably the most important characteristic is flower color. Mums come in almost all colors of the rainbow except blue. Pick the ones that go best with your décor.
If you want to plant your mums so that they come back next year and become an integral part of your landscape or perennial garden, then purchase them early and plant them early. The longer these plants have to grow roots into their new environment, the better the chance they will to survive cold weather in the fall and winter.
After you get your mums established in your landscape, learning how to maintain them is important if you want the best possible show in the ensuing fall. As your mums come back in the spring, keep cutting them back to about 2” above ground level until July the 4th. Then let them grow for the rest of the season. Be sure to water them as needed and fertilize every two weeks with a flower grower food, or with a soluble 20-20-20.