Chrysanthemums, better known as mums, say fall as much as pumpkins do. Fall mums have a range of colors and come in pinks, reds, rusts, deep plums, pure white or white blends, garnets, purples and of course yellows. They are easy to take care of and make great centerpiece flowers.
When looking for the perfect mum, you want a lot of buds. The ideal mum to take home will have about 80% buds. You want just a little color beginning to show so you can tell what you’re getting. The more buds on the plants, the longer they will show. You can expect roughly 4-6 weeks of stunning color if you buy the right one. However, if you are buying for an event a few weeks away, grab one that’s 1/2 to 2/3 in bloom so you can be sure you have lot’s of color for the big day.
Sadly, mums are incredibly easy to kill. They are known to dry out very fast and need to be watered at least once a day. After the repeated stress of drying out, they often just up and die. Here are a few tips to help your mums live a long and happy life.
Re-potting is the is the most important thing you can do to increase the lifespan of your mums. Most mums are completely root bound when you get them, which makes it really hard for the soil to retain any water. The best way to deal with this is to provide your mums with more soil by re-potting them. First, choose a container that is a little bit larger than the container your mums originally came in. Second, fill the bottom of the new pot with a good quality potting soil and carefully remove the mum from its nursery pot. Break up any roots you can and put the plant in the new pot, making sure the surface of the soil rests at least an inch below the lip of the new pot. Third, fill potting soil in around the plant’s root ball and gently tamp down the soil. Last, give the pot a good watering — until it flows out of the bottom of the pot. You may need to add more soil after watering the first time.
Mums love sun, so make sure your pot gets direct sun for a minimum of 4 hours a day. Fall days are shorter and the sun has already moved across the horizon since the summer, so you may find the places that used to get the most sun have changed. Where you once had full, unobstructed sun, a tree or building may now be blocking the light. You can use a sun calculator or just try to observe how long the sun is hitting your pot. You might be surprised.
Mums need to be watered often, but not too much. When their leaves begin to droop, which can happen very fast, they are way too dry. Try to water them before they get to that state. You usually water plants until the water pours out the bottom, but with a pot bound mum, it’s possible that the water will go around the roots, down the sides of the pot and out the bottom without the plant getting much water. Also, if you’ve let the plant dry out, the soil contracts and the same thing can happen. To avoid this, and to re-hydrate dry soil, put the mum pot in a bucket of water with a few inches of water and leave it to soak for a few hours. Don’t forget it, because the plant can drown if you do. You can also fully submerge the pot in a bucket of water to rehydrate the soil. Stick a skewer or a pencil in the soil at the top to make sure the water soaks in.
Deadheading mums is not a very fun task, but worth the trouble. They will look much better and chances are they will last longer. Most flowers benefit from having their spent flowers removed. This is called deadheading. Flowers that repeat bloom will often do so only if the old, dying flowers are removed. If they remain on the plant, they will go to seed and stop producing flowers. Even many flowers that bloom only once per season benefit from deadheading, because the plant puts its energy into strengthening itself instead of producing seed.
Choosing the right, strong plant is key to how well it thrives. A plant that has repeatedly dried out will be stressed and not a good candidate. If you buy a mum at a supermarket or big box store, be particularly careful because they often are under-watered. It even makes sense to ask the store what day they get their new shipments and try to buy one on the day they get there, before they’ve had too many chances to be neglected. Look for plants where the leaves are deep green and healthy, not droopy. Find plants that have lots of buds and not too many blooms.
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Using the fall & winter months to prep your space is the Perfect way to prep for spring!
Check out one of our favorite blogs – by clicking the image below – to read about how to use the ‘ber months to elevate your outdoor living!
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