Mum’s the word

Mums Fall
Available in bright shades of white, yellow, red, orange and purple, chrysanthemums mirror the stunning fall colors found in trees. As annuals and perennials begin to take on that dreary late summer look, a few strategically placed mums can extend the beauty of your garden.

By Olivia Bloom

End your summer garden season with a bang, not a whisper.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and retire those whimpering annuals and cut back fading perennials. Drop in large pops of fall color with chrysanthemums, that is, mums. Your eyes (and your neighbors) will thank you.

If all the world loves a party, nature decorates for the best festivities in fall. Consider the color carnival in the trees. Join the fun with a carpet of matching mums.

With hundreds of cultivars to choose from, nurseries recently started selling the fall favorite in early August. Local garden centers will continue offering later-blooming varieties into October, making it easy to replace the long-blooming shrub-lets when petals begin to brown.

When the fall flower officially fades depends on the fickle forecast in Northeast Ohio. While they’ll survive a frost, a blanket of snow might put the perennial to bed for the winter.

Chrysanthemums have deep history in China. Ancient pottery images suggest mums were part of the landscape 3,500 years ago. Over time, they spread through Europe, but didn’t cross the Atlantic to the United States until five years before Ohio was an official state. Mums first arrived in New Jersey, but met commercial success across the continent in California. And, they’re always bigger in Texas. (Just Google it.)

Mum popularity has been growing in recent years. As consumers embrace them, growers feed the demand. In fact, they are now the most widely grown potted plant in the United States, according to the National Chrysanthemum Society. And, their ease makes them the largest commercially produced flower.

Easy to Care For
Even a brown thumb will appreciate their lack of pests and simple need for water. But not too much water or they may develop mildew. Variety expands creative options when decorating a landscape, porch or patio. While 13 classifications exist, basic petal types are cushion, anemone, pompon, daisy and spider. Plants vary in height. And, vibrant colors include shades of white, yellow, red, orange and purple.

Those who are ambitious can keep chrysanthemum love alive as the plants are hardy perennials. The real challenge is timing. Sinking plants into soil in late summer/early fall restricts the ability to establish strong root systems and increases vulnerability to Northeast Ohio’s sometimes-harsh winters.

And so, it’s best to plant in spring and follow up with regular pruning to persuade bushy and properly prolific plants for fall. However, given the abundant availability of mums from grocers to home improvement centers, it may be more practical simply to buy new plants as desired. 

Categories: Home & Garden