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Early-season mums add landscape sizzle
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Landscapes are starting to look great as hurricane debris is cleared and fall mums are planted. There is something to be said about the way mums change your mood and brighten the landscape.
There are more varieties than you can dream of, including early-, mid- and late-season varieties. They come in a wide range of colors, even two-toned. In the past couple of years, Yoder Brothers have brought us new multi-colored varieties like Stacy (purple and white) and Roxanne (rose, white and yellow).
Grolink has changed the industry significantly with the Belgian mums that are more durable from the standpoint of branch breakage as well as the sheer number of flowers. New this year in the Belgian mums are Conaco Orange and Conaco Yellow that appear to be slightly larger.
Of course, the all-time favorite in Mississippi is the old-fashioned selection called Clara Curtis, or Country Girl. This heirloom plant from Russia is known botanically as Dendranthema zawadskii and is still in production today because of its glorious fall display of large, rose-pink flowers with orange disks. It returns year after year and puts on a show that is unrivaled. This chrysanthemum is indeed one that will be a long-term perennial.
Whether you choose County Girl, Belgian mums or one of the other great selections like my personal favorite Champagne, plant them in full sun to produce the most abundant flowers. A little afternoon shade is tolerated. The soil must be fertile, organic-rich, moist, but very well drained. Drainage may be the key to winter survival. Mulching mums should be a no-brainer. If the plants dry severely, many buds will fail to open.
By planting now, you will get full value for those dollars spent because the first buds will open in your landscape. Keeping them well watered will ensure glorious fall color for weeks. By choosing types carefully according to bloom season, it is possible to have mums blooming until Thanksgiving.
There is certainly nothing wrong with buying some with color for decorating around the porch and patio. Mums are perfect for football tailgate parties. They are readily available 6-inch and 1-gallon containers, and some absolutely tremendous 2- and 3-gallon selections that will have hundreds of flowers. Despite costing more, these larger containers have jumped off the charts in popularity in the past few years.
Chrysanthemums combine well with other fall bloomers like the Mexican Bush Sage (salvia leucantha), Indigo Spire salvia and ornamental grasses. Combine late-season mums with ornamental kale and cabbage and even pansies.
If your landscape looks drab compared to your neighbors, then head to the garden center this weekend and get several mums not only for the landscape but the porch, patio and deck as well. Be sure to pick up a few bags of fresh mulch while you are there.