Mum is the Word: Tips on Choosing and Growing Chrysanthemums
Some people grow nothing but chrysanthemums, and why not? There are so many varieties of mums that you could plant an entire garden of them and achieve almost continuous color by choosing varieties that bloom at different times. In this newsletter, we offer tips on how to get the best results with your chrysanthemums, and we include links to those mums that are our personal favorites.
Out of the thousands of varieties of chrysanthemums available, we have narrowed our stock down to what we consider the three best types: Belgian, Perennial, and Yoder. On our website, we classify the Belgian varieties depending on whether they are very early, early, mid, or late bloomers. We also classify the Yoder into those that are early, mid, or late blooming.
As the name indicates, Perennial mums will return each year if planted and cared for correctly. Many were originally cultivated in Minnesota, such as the highly popular football varieties, of which our favorite is Homecoming. We also consider the Peach Centerpiece and Ice Crystal to be exceptionally beautiful.
Belgian mums are actually a subset of perennials. Named after their country of origin, they might better be called supermums, in that they are highly prolific, producing as many as one thousand buds per bloom season. They are also tougher and hardier than other perennial mums. If you are concerned that your mums might get damaged by wind and rain, or that they might not overwinter, choose Belgian varieties. Our favorite is the Mefisto Purple.
Yoder mums are not perennial and they bloom only in the fall. However, some are knockouts such as the lovely Emma Coral Bicolor. We are happy to make these and other uniquely beautiful Yoders available to our customers at a price slightly lower than other types of mums.
When and How to Plant
- Mums are great for adding color, so analyze your yard for areas that might need brightening up. Take advantage of the fact that they come in short, medium and tall varieties, as well as a wide variety of flower sizes.
- To achieve something approaching an ever-blooming garden, be sure to include mums from each of the bloom-time categories: very early, early, mid, and late.
- Mums can be planted at any time as long as the roots have at least six weeks to become established before being exposed to freezing temperatures.
- Avoid planting in excessively hot weather. If your area has been in the 90s or above lately, wait until the temps cool down before you plant.
- Plant mums a couple of feet apart so they will able to spread out and bloom to their fullest capacity. This will also prevent mildew by ensuring optimal air circulation.
- Since mums take their blooming cue from shortening days, avoid planting them near streetlights or other nighttime light sources.
- Water mums regularly, but don't let the roots become waterlogged. As usual, fertile, well-draining soil is crucial.
- Prepare the soil by mixing in compost, and applying a phosphorous-rich fertilizer such as Neptune's Harvest. Continue to fertilize at least once a month until the mums begin to bloom.
- Mums need to be pinched back to encourage bushiness and optimal flowering. Follow the directions that come with the particular mums you purchase.
- Insects like to nest in the leaves in the fall, especially aphids. Dust lightly as needed with a natural insecticide such as diatomaceous earth.
- Once your garden mums begin to bloom, fertilizer must be stopped, for it will fade the flowers.
- After fall flowering has ended, dig some troughs around your mums to help allow water to run off during winter ice thaws. Apply mulch to protect your mums' remaining leaves and stalks.
- Keep tabs on which shrubs have become the thickest, and any that are more than three years old. When spring comes, divide these in order to minimize susceptibility to disease.
That's all the tips for now. If you wish more in-depth information, please consult this article from the Ohio State Extension.
Happy gardening from all of us at Garden Harvest Supply!