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Wednesday, September 3, 2014
It happens overnight – home and garden centers transition to fall with the addition of potted mums.
They are irresistible. After a long and hot summer, we are so ready to clear away the remnants of summer blooms and add some fall color in our landscape. Mums offer us instant gratification with their color impact. Chrysanthemums are the best showstoppers this time of year. The name “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek words for gold (chrysos) and flower (anthos) and is often shortened to “mum.”
There are hundreds of varieties. Mums are generally known as annuals, but hardy garden mums are grown as perennials in our area’s hardiness zone (Zone 8). There are two varieties of chrysanthemums – florist mums and hardy mums. The biggest difference is that florist mums, often referred to as show mums, have no underground stolons (shoots springing from the roots). For those who enjoy flower arranging, the chrysanthemum is one of the longest lasting cut flowers around, lasting well over two weeks. As the leaves usually die before the flowers, it’s best to remove them before placing them in your arrangement.
All mum plants at garden centers are hardy, meaning they are perennials in most climates and have the underground stolons. However, if you put them in the ground from August on, they may not survive the winter. The reason is that mums planted late in the season are at the flowering stage, and they don’t grow roots to sustain plants through the cold months. All the energy is put into blooming. That is why garden mums really should be planted in the spring.
To overwinter your potted mums, place them in a dark closet. They will hibernate if you keep their roots damp. In the spring, acclimate them to light gradually and set them out in the garden after the last killing frost. They should provide you beautiful splashes of fall color for years to come.
I enjoy beautiful blooming potted mums on the front porch. Then, within a week or two, the blooms often start to fade. There are a few tricks to prolonging the bloom time and getting more enjoyment out of potted mums. Try to select plants that have plenty of unopened buds. It is so tempting to purchase those with the fullest flowers, and you may need to do so depending on your need or use. If you buy mums already in full bloom, you have no way of knowing how close they are to the end of their bloom time. Also, protect mums from the sun. In our area, temperatures remain fairly high even as we approach the fall season. To prolong the blooms, place them in indirect light rather than the full sun. When watering, water mums from the bottom. Take care not to splash the foliage or blooms. This will help keep the blooms from browning. If possible, protect them from the rain. For more information, email Trish Manuel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The North Augusta Council of Garden Clubs and its three affiliated garden clubs Carolina Hills, Palmetto and Terrace, have begun their new gardening year. Watch for more information about scheduled Council activities, or call Council President Anna Sheets at 803-279-0272 for details.