Fall is nearly here (yeah!), and the cooler, more bearable temperatures make this the ideal time to get back into the garden after hiding inside from the sweltering heat. Not only does this mean taking care of your annual fall cleaning like weeding, pruning, and perhaps even deadheading all those spent blooms, but also planning next season’s garden and prolonging what remains of this season. After all, most of us can continue enjoying our garden up until the first frost, which here in the south can be late October or November.
Why not take advantage of everything this season has to offer, beautiful fall color. While foliage color is probably the most common garden element during fall, don’t overlook the striking colors found in Chrysanthemums (Mums). Mums make beautiful displays in the fall garden. They are easy to grow and require little care. These tough little darlings simply dot the fall landscape with color. There are numerous types of mums in a variety of colors, from purple, pink, red, and orange to yellow, bronze, white, and even bi-colored.
Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China over 2,000 years ago. These beautiful flowers, and members of the Daisy family, got their name from the Chinese city, Chu-Hsian, which means Chrysanthemum City. Their roots were once boiled and used as a remedy for headaches. Mums were also believed to have the power of life. I don’t know about that but I do know they have the power to shine in the garden. Mums were introduced to the U.S. during Colonial times and were then, as now, widely grown as potted plants. However, mums make as much a statement planted directly in the garden as they do in pots. Best of all, these easy-care plants have long-lasting blooms, which also make them great for cutting.
Mums make exceptional centerpieces in bouquets and lovely fall accents for decorating inside or out. Therefore, whether out in the garden or sitting indoors, you can still enjoy beautiful fall color. Mums are best planted in late summer and throughout fall. Although these hardy plants will thrive under various conditions and in nearly any soil, mums typically prefer a well-drained, sunny location in the garden. Since mums have shallow roots, keep them watered thoroughly but take care not to overdo it.
Mums can be easily propagated by dividing and separating them. You can also grow them from seed or cuttings. Do you have some potted mums? You can easily transplant these in the garden while still in full bloom without any problems. Just be sure to give them plenty of water. Mums can survive winter in most zones; however, in cooler, more northerly climates, it may help to apply a thick layer of mulch (such as straw or pine boughs) over the plant after its leaves have died off, usually in late fall. This will also help minimize winter heaving due to freezing temperatures. Disease problems with mums are few, and insects are not generally a threat either, with exception to nesting in the leaves during fall.