Mums the Word
by Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes
Summer has finally come to a close and we are easing into fall. Cooler nights, sweaters, colorful leaves and pumpkins are what most folks think of when you say fall. There are lots of plants that look great at this time of year, but probably the single flower most associated with fall is the chrysanthemum.
Mum in Pot 2
We have lots of mums in the garden right now. You can find them in various pots scattered around and we have installed two displays in the garden. The arched flower beds in the vegetable garden now feature mums just about to burst open while the mums in the Parterre are blooming gloriously right now.
Mums in the Parterre
You can go into any garden center, farmer’s market and even at the grocery store at this time of year and see a colorful display of mums and pumpkins for sale. They aren’t terribly expensive. You pick up a pot or two and take them home, drop them on your front steps or porch and you have instant fall decoration. Once the bloom fades and the frost comes, into the compost bin they go. But this last step doesn’t have to happen. In fact, most mums purchased are quite suitable for the garden.
Mum in Pot 1
If you plant mums in the ground now, their roots have a fighting chance to get established before the cold of winter shuts down their growth. If they are in containers and you wait until frost comes before planting them, don’t be surprised if they don’t make it through the winter.
So what happens next spring? Your mum will start to grow and it may get longer and leggier than the plant you bought the previous fall. That is because they were regularly pinched at the nursery during the growing season (There are some newer hybrids that do not need as much pinching). This keeps the plant shorter and bushier, maintaining the rounded habit that is easy to sell at market. If you are the obsessive type, then you will want to pinch your plant through the spring until about mid-July when the buds will begin to set for the next fall’s flowering. If you have a more laissez-faire attitude, you do not have to pinch the stems and you can let the plant just grow and flop where it wants. In either case, as the days shorten next year, you will have some beautiful flowers once again.
Mum in Pot 3
Of course if you don’t want to bother with planting and pinching mums, just come see ours. They sure are pretty.
Photos by Director of Gardens Perry Mathewes.