With Halloween, Thanksgiving and the holidays in the air, fall mums come to mind. Garden mums come in many colors and styles. Garden mums are a staple of the fall season and represent the end of summer and the onset of cooler days and evenings.
Mums are actually fairly easy to grow and can withstand both low and high humidity situations. Mums can actually mimic the look of other flowers such as the smaller flower of a daisy (daisy mums) or the larger and fancier varieties that can almost look like roses. You can get chrysanthemum plants in almost every color but blue.
The first batch of garden mums have already arrived at many local stores and more will be arriving in the coming weeks.
Mums have been around for a long time and I am sure that many of you have helped your parents or grandparents display these colorful gems during the holidays.
Most of the varieties that we use here in North America are simply known as garden mums with the botanical classification of dendranthea grandiflorum.
About 80 percent of all garden mums arte sold during the fall and early winter. The reason these colorful plants burst into bloom in fall is because the shorter days, cooler temperatures and longer nights all contribute to the triggering mechanism that causes these plants to burst into color.
Many people simply buy their mums in the fall already in bloom from retailers, while still others like to plant their own plants and watch them mature and bloom in their own gardens.
If you decide to try planting your own, do so in the spring so the root systems can have a chance to get well established to ensure a happy healthy plant.
Mums should be planted in a location that will get only a half-day of sun or slightly less. This is especially true in the areas south of Vero Beach. The areas north of Vero Beach will probably have better results with growing mums in your garden, as the harsh effects of the sun are slightly lessened.
You can ensure you will get more flowers in the fall if you pinch back the top inch or so of growth about every three weeks until about mid July. This process will help to promote heavy flowing in the fall. Please note you only do the above process if you plan on growing and maintaining your garden mums on a year round basis.
Mums will grow in a variety of soils as long as they are well drained. Mums do not require a lot of fertilizer, but will appreciate a light feeding about once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Gro. It will also help if you stake your plants, as this will help them to support themselves and keep the heavy Florida rains from knocking them over.
If you plan on only using your mums as potted decorations for the holidays, many of the same rules will apply. Keep the plant in a bright, well-lit area of the house and do not let the plant get too dry between watering cycles. Remember that potted plants will dry out much faster than plants that are placed in the ground. A/C will also have an impact on your plant's moisture level.
Once your plants have served their useful life as holiday decorations, many people just choose to throw then away and plan on buying new next year and many people will choose to plant them and enjoy their color again next season.
If you decide to plant your gems for next year, simply choose a well-drained area that has some protection from the hot summer sun. Dig a hole about twice the size of the plant's existing root ball. Place the plant slightly below the original soil level of the pot. Fill in with good-quality topsoil or a soil mixture with organic compounds mixed in. Water the plant in. You are now on the road to enjoy your plants again next season.
Joe Zelenak has 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.