In the Garden:
Middle South
August, 2003
Regional Report

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The longest lasting mums often have the "decorative" flower form, in which new petals constantly emerge from the blooms' centers.

Minding Your Mums

By late summer, I'm ready to see sunset colors in flower beds that featured pinks and purples during summer's first half. This is but one excuse I use to adopt more chrysanthemums. New mums provide a quick shot of seasonal color, but that's not all. When handled right, they are one of the finest perennials you can grow.

Best Bloom Times
As you shop for plants, check the tags to see if the variety blooms early, mid-season, or late. Early mums bloom in August, mid-season varieties bloom in September, and the late ones wait until October to cover themselves with flowers. At our latitude, you will get the strongest perennial performance from mid- and late-season mums. The reason? Mums that enjoy a long season of vegetative growth have more time to grow into tall, bushy, heavy-blooming plants.

Shop Early
The first step toward perfect perennial mums is to get plants into the ground as early as possible. The winter hardiness of mums depends on how well they are rooted, and root growth is slow in fall when the plants are focused on flowering.

Give 'Em Shelter
After your mums turn brown in early winter, let the old stems and leaves remain on the plants so they can shelter the roots from ice and cold. If the plants look too shabby to endure, trim them back to about 8 inches tall. In spring, you should see several green stems arising from the base of your plants.

The Georgia Extension Service recommends digging up the plants, cutting off the new stems, and planting them in a new spot in April or early May. In my experience, mums grow beautifully when they are divided only every other year. Yet I do root a few stem cuttings each spring. Mum cuttings always root fast, whether I plant the cuttings in pots or my garden.


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