Friday, September 18, 2015

PLANT OF THE WEEK: MUMS

I get it. Mums are ordinary. Everybody has them.
But, the reality is that they do their job, and do it very well. Mums bring color to our fall porches and gardens. They have hundreds of buds when we first see them in early fall, which translates to hundreds of flowers over a 6-8 week period.
And the hues and shades are extraordinary.
Suzanne, Dotty and Katie water mums most days. The plants' prolific root systems and robust foliage and blooms make frequent watering necessary to keep the plants nice. Once they are transplanted in the ground, mums may require less water, but keep an eye on them on bright, warm sunny autumn days.
Here are a few tips to be successful with mums
  1. Choose mums when they are heavily budded and cracking color. Expect 6-8 weeks of bloom, though that will depend on the weather
  2. Water mums daily if left in pots and containers
  3. Once buds have started to open, mums will continue to color-up in sun or shade. If the plan is to compost them at season's end, sun or shade is fine. If planted in the ground with the expectation of returning next year, plant in full sun 
  4. Double flowering mums will "age" better than their single-petaled counterparts. The flowers will fade but remain attractive well into the fall season
  5. Ideally, choose up to 3 colors to display together. Almost any combination is pleasing to the eye
  6. Darker colors fade to light as the season progresses. Burgundy, red, and purple are all very popular
  7. Purple is especially popular in the Baltimore area since mums and Raven's football share the season
    Work up a fall combination of flowers to celebrate our teams. Red and yellow for the Redskins, and yellow with whatever for the Steelers
  8. Buy the bigger plant. Once the buds have started to open, the plant will not grow much more this season 
  9. Use mums to decorate for your own fall festivities. Mix them up with pumpkins, squash oddities, corn fodder and other fun fall d├ęcor
  10. Wait to cut mums back until spring if you are over-wintering them. Then, remember to cut them back to about 6 inches on St. Patrick's Day, Mother's Day and the Fourth of July. They will be compact nd full of buds come next fall
  11. Purchase mums from local growers. Ours are grown on our own farm in Hydes, MD
Mums are by no means the only thing to plant in the cooler months of autumn. Pansies, ornamental cabbage and kale, scores of perennials, and trees and shrubs all benefit from being planted now as the air temperatures cool off while the soil remains warm.
The colors of fall are beautiful. Enjoy the season.

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