Perennial of the Week – Hardy Mums (Chrysanthemums)
Chrysanthemums, or just plain mums, are the backbone of the Fall American Garden. Their autumn colors are a welcome addition to the landscape as your summer flowers begin to fade into the September sunset. This is a great flowering perennial that gives you a burst of color that can handle the cool days and evenings of the autumn months. The best part is that they are easy to grow.
Mums like nutrient-rich soil, so before you plant them, proper soil preparation is the key to success. Incorporate into the soil Bumper Crop organic compost and peat moss. This will provide the perfect soil foundation for new plants that can retain water and nutrients. A large healthy root system is the reason mums survive over the winter. Adding Espoma Bio-Tone Soil Conditioner with beneficial Mycorrihizae will help them develop the largest root system possible, which will then translate to your success.
Mums like the sun. Choose an area in your garden that gets a full to half day of sun. They also get pretty big, so if you are planting them in your garden beds, space them at least 12 inches apart. Gently remove them from their grower’s pots and place them in the soil. A few inches of bark mulch around them after planting will help preserve moisture in the soil. Water them once a day for a week while their root system adjusts to the new site and then water as needed. A mum will tell you it isn’t getting enough water when its leaves start to wilt. Don’t worry if this happens. They will usually bounce right back after a cool drink. Mums do beautifully in your planters so you can decorate your deck or patio in the fall. Clean out your summer flowers and combine mums with purple fountain grass, sedum, or ornamental peppers to make the perfect fall combination. Mums won’t survive in your planters over the winter, so in November, transplant them out of your pots into a chosen area in your garden so they will grow again the following year.
After a few hard frosts, your mums will let you know that its time to cut them back to the ground. The leaves will wilt and start to turn black. Mulch the area over to help shelter the root system from the cold winter months.
The fall is not the time to be sad that your perfect summer garden is almost done for the year. It’s the time to continue what you started in the spring. Mums are the perfect plant that allows you to enjoy your landscape late into the fall.
Have fun and enjoy!