How to care for mums
Mums have long been appreciated for their array of fall colors. Whether it is for a homecoming game, the prom, or your own backyard, mums have a special beauty. Chrysanthemums were named from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower). They were first raised in China about 2500BC. They valued the flower so much they named a city after them: Chu-Hsien means Chrysanthemum City.
Modern day mums are valued for their long-lasting blooms and variety of colors. Prized by florists and gardeners alike, mums are hardy plants. They can survive in a number of climates, and can be planted in pots or in the ground. Even nicer, they can be raised as annuals or perennials.
Learning how to care for mums can provide an unexpected bonus. In addition to enjoying them in the garden, you can also make your own corsages for those special occasions in life. With the colors ranging from white and cream to orange, rust, red, and gold, you can probably find one in your school colors.
Choose a spot with well-drained soil in a sunny location. Protection from afternoon sun is important in hot climates. Protect from winter winds and do not allow soil to dry out.
Spade a deep area in the earth. It should be about twice the size of the root ball. Add fertilizer if the soil is poor. Use a commercial fertilizer weekly until they bloom. Do not crowd the plants. Mums have a shallow root system, so do not plant near trees or other large plants.
Mums can be planted in the fall or spring. Spring planting will give them a longer time to establish before cold weather.
Types of mums
Types of mums – by flower shape:
- Single (daisy-like)
- Pompon (small, stiff)
- Spoon (petals spoon-shaped)
- Spider (long, tubular, hooked ends)
- Quill (petals straight, long and tubular)
- Decorative/football (flattened with petals curving towards center)
- Anemone (daisy-like, rounded crest in center)
Keep plants symmetrical by pinching off growth. Remove the top pair of leaves. This will keep the plants bushy. Removing half the buds will force larger blossoms. If you prefer, you can use clippers for the trimming job. You may need to stake taller plants.
Keeping your mums healthy
Spraying with an insecticide or fungicide can help prevent insect damage and disease. If the products are from the same company, they may contain similar ingredients. If so, you may combine them in one application to save time.
Watch for aphids, the main pest to attack mums. Remove any dead or dying leaves.
Cut plants back after they have finished blooming. Leave stalks about 6 to 8 inches tall. Level out ground around plants to avoid water accumulation. After the ground freezes, apply a mulch for protection. This is to keep them frozen, not to guard against excessive cold. Avoid leaves or grass clippings. These can decay and create an unhealthy growing medium. Remove mulch when ground softens in the spring.
Mums can also be treated as annuals and discarded at the end of the growing season. If so, you won’t have to worry about the previous paragraph.
Propagation of mums
Mums are easy to propagate. In the spring, divide the clumps and plant in a new area or in a pot. Be sure to leave 1-2 feet between plants. Larger plants will need at least two feet.