Fall is starting to set in and the weather is getting a little cooler and more crisp. For those of us in the northern climates that means hoodies and campfires and pack away the shorts and tank tops. It's also time to think about fall mums.
We try not to get fall mums too soon even though you will start to see them everywhere. Purchasing a mum early might be tempting, but will just mean that there is little chance that you will have color left for fall. Pick up those mums when they are nice and tight with plenty of small buds. Be sure to check out the zone on the tag if you intend to plant them in your garden or landscape, matching up your zone. Beware...not all mums are perennials and it is a good chance that if you are shopping at a mega mart or grocery store that the mums will not last. Stick with your local garden center or florist for the best quality.
The best site for your mums is up against a south-facing wall of a house or other shelter. Choose a sunny location where they won't be crowded in coming years.
To plant your mums:
- Dig a hole to the depth of the mums' pot and twice as wide.
- Place the root ball in the hole, and fill in the remaining space with a good quality soil.
- Firm the soil around the base of the plant.
- Water well.
- Mulch over the base.
A good thick layer of straw, shredded leaves or other mulch will help insulate the soil somewhat and protect your mums from standing in water, which may freeze and damage the tender roots over winter.
Throughout the growing season, prune your mums lightly by pinching off the buds from the end of growing shoots to encourage growth, creating a thicker, fuller plant with an abundance of flowers.
Feeding and Watering
Fertilize your fall mums often from early spring until late July. Mums are heavy feeders and heavy drinkers, so keep an eye on how much water they are getting. They will definitely let you know when they are too dry.
Once the foliage has died back, trim the dead stems back to ground level and mulch to a depth of three to four inches.
Water your mums regularly in the spring, and soon you will see new green shoots poking up from the trimmed back old stems. Throughout the spring and mid-summer, trim your mums back. This will create a thick, bushy plant that will produce an overwhelming display of fall flowers just as your other garden flowers begin to fade.
Of course be sure to fertilize your mums often with only the best fertilizer...