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Fall mums offer big color splash
Just as the changing colors in nature signal the arrival of autumn, so do the appearance of beautiful, flowering mums at our local garden centers.
Adding fall mums, which is the short name for Chrysanthemums, is a stress-free way to provide color to the fall landscape. It’s easy to see why, as these plants will produce more flowers than you could possibly count. The selection of colors seems limitless, from rustic earth tones to bright and cheery pastels.
Available sizes range from 4-inch pots all the way up to 5-gallon containers and bigger.
Choose fall mums in full flower to make an instant impact on any autumn party or event. But I like to select plants that still have tight buds and are just starting to show color. This increases the time you will have a showy display as the buds begin to open in the garden.
Always place your mums in a spot that receives full sun. This will ensure the absolute best flowering. Never let your fall mums wilt. This is the quickest way to end the flowering show, as the plants are slow to recover from getting too dry.
One of my favorite ways to use fall mums is in containers on the front porch. I select a large plant and simply place the plant, container and all, into a beautiful, decorative pot. I don’t need to remove and replant from the original container to make this beautiful display.
Smaller-sized mums are great additions to combination containers. Use a native grass like gulf muhly grass -- a 2010 Mississippi Medallion winner -- as the thriller plant, and surround it with colorful 4-inch mums.
When making a combination container, be sure to use a high-quality container potting mix to ensure good drainage.
Fall mums can be transplanted into the garden to fill in gaps that occur when our summer color starts to fade. It’s a good idea to plant them in raised beds to aid drainage. Amend the soil with good compost and use slow release fertilizer for good nutrition through the fall season.
Many gardeners, including me, treat fall mums as annual plants, replacing them when the flowers fade with the next season’s plants. If you are growing fall mums in containers, you can transplant them to the garden after the flowers begin to fade. Sometimes the plants will overwinter in the ground.
Keep in mind that many fall mums are not winter hardy, even in Mississippi. Many have been selected strictly for color performance. Several years ago, I transplanted a range of gorgeous mums into my garden, and only the purple variety overwintered successfully.
If you want to try to overwinter your fall mums, here are some tips for success. Prune the foliage down after the stems have died back. Cover the plant with a 3- to 4-inch layer of pine straw. Water well in the spring and keep a lookout for new green shoots to appear.
This weekend, add some fall mums to your landscape to create a color splash for all to enjoy during the cooler months of the year.