A family member recently sent me an email note with a couple of gardening questions.
She attached some pictures of her porch and noted that “even though you don’t like mums, I think they make my porch more inviting“.
Uh-oh. Did I say I didn’t like mums? Actually, what I think I said was that I was kind of bored with mums (Chrysanthemums) and so I don’t go out and buy big pots of them in the fall as much as I used to.
I’m quite tempted to do so, though, whenever I visit a garden center in the fall and see all those rows and rows of mums.
Here’s the porch without mums.
Yes, that is a bit plain.
Here’s the porch with the mums.I think the mums do make this a more inviting porch, don’t you?
Honestly, I really don’t mind mums and I’d like to apologize to the mum growers if I maligned mums or inadvertently said anything that caused anyone I know to hestitate to buy any mums.
I have some mums myself, as shown on my bloom day post yesterday. I bought them six or seven years ago from someone at work who’s daughter was selling them for a school fundraiser. (Whenever someone’s kid is selling anything plant related, they seem to come right to me… why is that?)
As soon as I got them, I planted them in a little spot by the front door and left them alone.
Now they just come up each year and sort of fill in their little spot. I don’t eagerly await their bloom, like I do some flowers I have, but I also don’t try to rip them out and hope they don’t bloom.
They are just there, adding a spot of color in the fall.
I would like to officially go on record as saying that I don’t mind mums, they are a nice flower to add a kick of color in the fall. It’s perfectly acceptable to buy a few containers of them to set about for a spot of color and quite understandable why people do that.
However, if you want to have them come back year after year, here’s what works for me…
Get them out of those pots and in the ground as soon as possible. In fact, you don’t have to wait until fall to buy mums. If you can find them in the spring, you should buy them then and plant them out. If you do plant them out in the fall, be sure to keep them well watered, like you would any other recently planted flower.
Don’t cut the foliage back in the fall after they are done blooming. Leave them alone for the winter and then cut them back in early spring when you start to see a little green at the base of the plant.
Give them a little extra mulch after the ground freezes to keep them from heaving up out of the ground. That’s usually what kills mums around here. They get “unplanted” as the ground goes through freezing and thawing cycles and then they dry out and die.
As we do with other late flowering perennials like asters, cut them back once in early summer to encourage more lateral branching and more flower bud formation. In my garden, I do this around Memorial Day.
If you also like mums but think they are a bit too common and overused, you can try to use their new name, Dendranthema. Impress your friends by telling them about these ‘new flowers’ you found that come in all different colors… yellow, pink, purple, lavendar, and red and everything in between except blue. You can tell them that they are relatively disease free and don’t require a lot of attention.
People will then think you’ve got some fancy new flowers and they’ll want to get some, too, because some people are like that. They have to have anything new.
As for me, I’m going to keep calling them mums, but I’m going to be more careful about what I say about them. Let the record show that I think they are a perfectly good fall flowering perennial with the added versatility of being a good container plant as well! Long live the mums!
Bloom Day Update: Thank you to everyone who posted for bloom day! I haven’t been around to visit all of the blogs, yet, but I will do so in the next couple of days. It’s nice to see so many blooms in the fall!