If you would like to add some color to welcome the fall season, you can’t beat chrysanthemums.
It seems that everywhere you look in October you see chrysanthemums blooming. Widely available and relatively inexpensive, they are almost indispensable for providing quick color to the fall landscape. Whether you plant them into beds or feature them in containers, these cheerful plants covered in yellow, gold, bronze, purple, lavender, white, pink or burgundy flowers are a delight in the landscape.
Chrysanthemums, also called mums, are hardy, long-lived perennials that bloom in the fall. Chrysanthemums are triggered to bloom only when the nights are long enough. During the summer, when days are long and nights are short, chrysanthemums in the garden grow vegetatively. As the period of nighttime darkness increases in late summer and early fall, flower bud initiation occurs. This takes place here in August and September, with flowers of chrysanthemums growing in gardens opening from October through December. Blooming container-grown plants are available at nurseries as early as September. Plants generally stay in full bloom for about two to three weeks.
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When purchasing chrysanthemums at the nursery, it is important to choose the right type of chrysanthemum for your landscape. You may find three different types of chrysanthemums offered at the nursery — cut-flower mums, pot mums and garden mums.
Cut-flower mums are selected for their ability, when cultivated properly, to produce spectacularly large flowers with long, strong stems suitable for cutting. Typically, cut-lower mums grown in pots will have a number of stems, each one terminating in one large, showy flower.
Pot mums were developed to produce a beautiful container plant with large flowers. They are grown in greenhouses and must be pinched, disbudded and even treated with growth regulators to produce a shorter, more attractive finished product. By manipulating the greenhouse environment, growers can produce blooming pot mums all year. These are the mums commonly available in pots at florist shops, but you also see them in nurseries this time of year. The plants are more upright and produce larger flowers than garden mums.
Neither cut-flower mums nor pot mums are generally suitable for the flower garden. Both tend to grow tall and leggy in the garden, resulting in plants that are floppy and unattractive, even though the flowers may be pretty.
The best chrysanthemums for planting in the landscape are garden mums. These mums are bred and selected for growing in the garden. They are short, bushy plants about 12 to 18 inches tall that literally cover themselves with clusters of small one and one-half inch flowers in virtually every color except blue. This type of mum is available now at nurseries and garden centers in 4-inch, 6-inch and gallon-size containers.
Well, we needed the rain — the weather overall in September has been quite dry. That means the soil was receptive