Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mums the Word

I know I said I would try to keep on the pruning track this week, but I am running short of time so it is a good thing I have so many posts already prepared. This is one of them. I will still get some pruning posts prepared (of course, what would you expect from a Citizen Forester and tree lover?) and post them later. So much to talk about and to do-in the garden....

It is so hard to beat Chrysanthemums in the garden for fall color and interest. I have a lot of favorite plants, but mums have to be one of my all time favorite ones. And of course, there is a story behind it.

I lived in Germany many years and tried to garden wherever I was living. While living in Patrick Henry Village in Heidelberg Germany, I purchased and planted a few mums. They were beautiful and I enjoyed them that fall. Little did I know at the time they would return the following spring. I had no idea they would survive the harsh German winters but those mums came back every year I lived in that apartment building. For all I know, they may still be blooming.

Some people here in Tennessee and surrounding states do not realize most mums are hardy and will come back year after year. I have lost a few over the years but mostly because they were not well suited for the location, or were under stress. I think to be sure your mums return you must plant them in a well drained soil. They cannot be allowed to sit in water and freeze repeatedly over the winter.

Another really great thing about mums is they are so easy to propagate. You must cut them back and keep the plant size to around six inches until mid July or so if you want them to be bushy and full of flowers in the fall. If you don't cut the mums they can get leggy and will bloom less heavily. When you clip them back, plop the cuttings in some soil on your deck or porch away from direct sun, water well, and by the time September rolls around you will have more mums to plant out in your garden. These same cuttings taken in June will bloom the very first year!

Mums are heavy feeders and in order to have a great show give them a balanced fertilized in July or August. So the next time you buy mums for your porch, don't give up on them after their bloom has passed by and throw them on the compost heap, plant them out and grow them for many more years.

The mum pictured above was a gift from one of the master gardeners (Mrs. Moody) during the 2006 Master Gardener tour. She had a beautiful garden and was very gracious by putting out freebies for the touring gardeners to take home with them. This is by far my favorite mum and even though the picture does not do it justice, this mum is different from most of the mums I grow. First of all, it doesn't even start blooming until all my other mums have gone by, then it blooms for over two months, all the while looking like it has just started blooming. This mum still had color in January, so I will have to say mums can be great for winter color AS WELL as fall color. The center of the bloom looks like a dandelion (Geri's view), but has distinctly different outer petals surrounding the cushion part of the flower. I thank Mrs. Moody for sharing her garden with me by giving me such a great plant. And, Mrs. Moody, if you read this blog, can you tell me the name of the mum if you know it? Thanks!

in the garden....


  1. Hi all. quiet today. Wonder where Dawn is. Maybe I will have to use my phone to see what she is up to.

  2. Yup. You gotta call her. I might have to bust her out for not commenting yesterday! Oh yeah, and the Pats won so surely she would have something to say about it!

  3. Hi Guys,
    I was exhausted yesterday, finished sanding my hooiser, painted it, then spent hours shoveling. My tech has the snowblower otherwise he won't be here for work! Mom I know you got far less snow than us, we got about 17''. We went to the home improvement store today and got the rest of our breakers, oh did I mention on fri, when school had a snow day, Nikki and I were napping and apparently my meter was installed?!!! On the home stretch now.

  4. Dawn, please tell me you stained your hooiser, not painted it.

    Nope, we did'nt get any where near that much. What we got was light and fluffy, probably 8 inches or less. It was so pretty but did'nt stick to the trees. We had bare ground before that. But they say more coming Friday. Christy wants to go snowboarding this weekend. She has not been much this winter like other years. Love you

  5. We have been hearing about the Nor'easter up your way Mom and Dawn. Hope things clear up and don't get too bad. Christine said they were swamped with snow! Must've all melted where you are mom. Still fairly warm down here. Been in the gardening dividing and moving things around and rain is expected tonight (with a little sleet but that will change over to rain) as the ground warms. I am glad it is going to rain because it really helps plants to settle in after moving them around.

  6. I got potted Mums for the front porch a few years in a row. After the blooms died out, I planted them into the ground by the creek then left them alone. They did well for a few years but lately only get a few scraggly blooms if any. I think I need to move them into the sunny part of the garden as they dont get much sun by the creek. Do Mums need a lot of sun Tina???

  7. Mums do like alot of sun. Sometimes you need to rejuvenate them about every three years by digging and replanting with some fresh soil and compost. Sometimes just take cuttings and start over in a new area. I am partial to my mother plants and move them around just to save them.

  8. Yep, I thought they needed sun. In the shade by the creek, they dont get sun! Thanks, I will move them...