Archive for Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fix-It Chick: ‘Mums’ the word

November 14, 2013

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Mums

Mums

Chrysanthemum blooms can be found throughout the year, but their long flowering season and cool weather hardiness make them a very popular fall decorating mainstay. Typically referred to as mums, these tropical flowers are second only to the rose in popularity and have over 1,000 genera and 20,000 species. With a little know how, it is easy to keep mums blooming year after year.

Step 1: Over-winter potted mums by placing the pots in a cool, but protected area such as a garage or basement. If temperatures will drop below freezing in the storage area, place the pots on stacks of newspapers and surround the pots with crumbled paper to help protect them from the cold. Remove dead blooms, but leave the foliage intact until the spring. Water the plants monthly.

Step 2: Mums that are planted in the ground should be covered with 4 to 8 inches of mulch. Dry leaves or straw works well for this. Leave the foliage intact, but pinch off dead blooms before covering.

Step 3: In early spring, before the weather warms, uncover the mums and cut back the dead foliage. Water the mums thoroughly.

Step 4: If desired, transplant potted mums to a sunny spot with well drained, fertile soil. Spread one inch of a rich soil and compost mixture at the base of each plant.

Step 5: When new growth appears, begin fertilizing the mums with a standard plant fertilizer. Water and fertilize on a regular schedule.

Step 6: To create full blooming rounded plants for the fall new foliage and spring buds will need to be pinched off on a regular basis until mid-summer. Pinch away new buds whenever a good number have appeared. Begin pinching plant stems when foliage is 4 to 6 inches tall. Pinch the top 1 to 2 inches of each new stem and continue to do so with every 3 to 5 inches of growth until mid-July.

Step 7: Continue watering chrysanthemums on a regular basis, but stop fertilizing the plants by the first of August.

Step 8: Additional mums can be planted in the ground up to six weeks before the first hard frost.

Step 9: To keep pests and diseases at bay, mums should be uprooted, divided and re-planted in new freshly prepared bedding areas every three to five years. Transplant mums in the early spring after the last hard frost, but before they start growing.

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