|Dendranthema ‘Cool Igloo’|
Mums, they aren’t so bad, especially if they have a more natural shape and don’t look all poodle cut and perfectly rounded.
And by mums, I mean Dendranthema, which is the actual genus for mums. Or maybe they switched back to Chrysanthemum? It’s difficult to keep up with taxonomists sometimes.
Regardless, in the right colors, and not perfectly mounded, mums add some nice color to the fall garden.
Friends ask me about planting their mums in the garden to winter over until spring. Mums will winter over but there are a couple of tips to remember.
First, you should plant the mums as soon as possible, hopefully when they are still just budding out and not in full flower. Around here that was about a month ago for most mums, if the ones I saw at the local big box hardware store a few days ago are any indication of the condition of the mums for sale now. But even if my mums were in full flower, I’d still be tempted to plant them out now. What do you have to lose if they don’t make it, except a little bit of time?
Next, avoid temptation and don’t cut the mums down to the ground once they are done blooming. Leave that foliage standing through the winter.
Once the ground has frozen over, cover the base of the mum with some mulch to prevent it from heaving out of the ground when we go through those freeze-thaw cycles, especially in late winter. Many a gardener has lost her mums when they heaved out of the ground and dried out. If you find your mums out of the ground in late winter, push them back down using the heel of you boot.
Then in the spring when you see some green shoots starting to peak through at the base of the mum, go ahead and cut the dead branches down to the ground and pull the mulch back. Fertilize the mum when you fertilize other perennials. I try to remember to fertilizer my perennials in early May. If you want a lot more blooms in the fall, cut the branches back by about one-third around Memorial Day. This encourages more branching, and thus, more buds.
Many gardeners shun the mums as ordinary and boring. I think they can be quite nice and cannot resist a little plea… all I am saying… is give mums a chance.