Each year, I’d help my mother tend hundreds of hardy mums in her greenhouses as we prepared for the busy autumn selling season. During the summer, we’d pinch back the mums so that they would end up bushy and full instead of spindly. We’d also fertilize each individual pot too.
My mother is retired now, so this year, for the first time in a long time, I’ve had to visit someone else’s greenhouse to choose my annual mum.
It’s hard choosing a mum because they are all beautiful. There are several different types of mums: daisy, spoon types, spider mums, and football mums. Mums come in many different colors too. I’ve seen white mums; various pinks-from light pink to a deep, rich magenta; burgundy, purple, orange, yellow, rust, red, and mums in different combinations of colors.
If you’d like a mum for your fall decorating, mums labeled “hardy” or “garden” are what you want. Mums used to be a nickname for “chrysanthemums”, but the name has now been changed to the tongue-twisting “dendranthema x grandiflora”.
I simply display my fall mum on my deck, enjoying it until a really hard frost finally turns it black. If you prefer, you can plant your mums in the garden instead.
If you’re going to plant your mum in the garden, make sure it has sun for at least half the day, though it would do well in the sun all day too. Make sure there is good drainage in your garden, and the soil should be moist, but not soggy.
There is no need to fertilize your fall mum. All you need to do is mulch it with some straw. In the spring you can remove the straw, remove any dead plant matter, then re-mulch with wood chips. Once the mum starts growing in the spring, keep new growth “pinched back” so that it doesn’t get spindly, but stop pinching back once the end of summer arrives.
One of my favorite things to do in the fall is to drive around looking at how everyone uses fall mums to decorate their homes. Some people are very creative and design very attractive arrangements using mums, pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, bales of hay, and scarecrows.
Mums require very little care, and can be enjoyed from the end of summer until after several frosts.