Southeast conducting trials on growing the perfect mum - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Southeast conducting trials on growing the perfect mum

Mum research at Southeast Missouri State Mum research at Southeast Missouri State

Chrysanthemums, mums to you and me, are a staple in fall yard decorations.

The glorious colors of red, orange, yellow and purple are captured in pots across the Heartland.

At Southeast Missouri State University's nursery, you'll find a sea of fall colors; 110 varieties of mums in eight different colors.

They're at the nursery not only to be sold, but to be studied too.

Two mum breeding companies, Gro-Link and Dummen, are very interested in what goes on at the nursery on campus. From their labs in California and Ohio, they're genetically engineering mums to thrive in the Heartland.

Southeast is helping them by conducting trials.

It all starts in late May when the breeding companies send the school tiny, 2-inch stems to grow. After five months of water, fertilizer and tender loving care, the stems grow into huge mums.

Students studying agri-business and horticulture work at the nursery, tending to the experiments and logging results.

Heather Gomez takes pictures of the various plants every week and uploads them to the breeding companies. They want to see what does well here, and what doesn't.

"Did it split? Did it bloom when they said it would? These are things the companies want to know," said Gomez.

The results are shared with local growers who, as logic goes, will produce the mums that hold up the best here. This gives you, the consumer, the mums that you love.

Denise Pingel, manager of Southeast's greenhouse, said the companies want to know what sells and what doesn't.

"We tell them what's left after the season. They want to know," Pingel said.

So the next time you purchase a mum, realize it's more than a pretty face, it may be made just for you!

Some tips for caring for your mums include:

  • Face them toward the south or west so they get lots of sun
  • Put them close to your house for added warmth
  • There is no need to fertilize them after they bloom
  • Keep them watered, but don't overwater

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