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by Beth Cook, Mammoth Cave Transplants
Chrysanthemums, or as we call the “Mums”, are a sure sign of the arrival of fall. Mums have been around for centuries originating in China. It was cultivated in China as a flowering herb, it was believed to have the power of life. The flower later appeared in Japan. The Japanese were so taken by the flower, they used a single flowered chrysanthemum as the crest and official seal of the Emperor. Bet you didn’t know they had so much history?
Mums now days, signify the signs of fall. Mums are widely used in fall decorating, whether planted in the landscape or in containers. There are now a wide array of colors and bloom shapes to satisfy any individual's flower fixation. The newer varieties, however, are not as hardy as the older varieties. They may come back the next growing season, but there is no guarantee. A few things to remember when caring for fall mums are:
Planting-They prefer to be planted in an area that receives full sun, For ultimate growth, plant your new fall mums in well-drained soil. Fall mums in containers need to be planted in the ground BEFORE the first hard frost! The sooner the better to allow the plant to establish a root system.
Watering- Fall mums should never be allowed to wilt…especially newly transplanted plants. Check your mums every other day for watering until you become familiar with their needs, particularly during dry spells. Be sure to thoroughly water-in your new transplants.
Fertilizing- Newly planted fall mums will not require any fertilizer this season. During the next growing season begin feeding your mums as new growth emerges with fertilizer. Feed your plants at least monthly until August.
Overwintering-After a hard frosts have blackened the plants, cut them back to within one inch of the soil. Mulch to a depth of 3-4 inches.
The following Spring-To encourage branching and compact bushy growth it is important to pinch the plants in the early spring. Once the plant has reached 4- 6 inches, remove 1-2 inches of the new growth on every shoot. After the plants have grown 3-5 inches from the first pinching, it is time to pinch again (1-2 inches). Stop pinching your plants around mid-July to have beautiful blooms for the fall.
Don’t forget, you can also plant pansies, violas, dianthus, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage and kale to accent your mums. These will last well until frost and possibly through the winter for early spring color.
Mum is the word from Mammoth Cave Transplants!!
~~“If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums.” —a Chinese philosopher