Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mum's the Word

        My red mum hedge is so bright and cheery that it inspired me to buy some of these plants. That's right, I haven't purchased any mums before. I "inherited" the red ones from my son. The other colors came from drawings at my spouse's class reunions. But I bought five plants the other day, and planted fifty.
       In the past I've divided my mums in the spring.  I don't know if fall division will work as well. I'm not even sure that "divided" is the correct term to use here, but I went ahead and "divided" (or whatever it's called), all in the spirit of experimentation. Left alone, mums will self-propagate vigorously. I've moved mine around so many times that they haven't had a chance to take over any one spot, but I'm hoping that will change in the near future. I love the masses of color mums produce! And they do so with so little care! 
Mums and salvia
       To propagate, I break off a stem, being careful to insure that some roots are starting at the base of the stem. In the spring there are no flowers, so I simply stick the soon-to-be-new-plant in the ground and water it. For these fall purchases, I snapped off all the flowers, leaving four or five inches of stem, before putting them in the ground. The one thing mums do need to grow well is plenty of sunshine. I nearly lost the red mums years ago before I figured this out.  
       I couldn't leave all those lovely blooms lying on the ground! I brought handfuls into the house and plopped them into a tub, considered, then added some blue perennial salvia for height and color contrast and took a photo.
       I placed a row of yellow mums alongside the feverfew that grows along the fence at the east end of my herb garden, with a few more yellow ones under the trumpet vine in the center of the herb garden.  White mums now edge the single reddish mum (from one of those reunion drawings) at the west end of that same garden. I'm looking forward to viewing these from my east-facing kitchen window next fall.
Feverfew.  Next year, with luck,
there'll be a row of yellow mums on the
other side of this fence,
       The entire almost-lavender mum plant now resides in the rock garden where lavender and calendula grow.  I'll want whites in the Moon Garden, but for now I've put starter plants in a nursery near the strawberry patch. The magenta mums are near the old quince tree outside the west-facing kitchen window, with the rust-colored ones not far away in a rock garden that's been in the back yard for well over a hundred years.
       While I'm delighted at the prospect of all these colors next fall, I don't want to wait that long for a colorful yard. I expect hundreds of daffodil blooms in the spring, but what about the summer? I'm going to have to think about that.
       If you want to grow mums in containers, keep in mind that the size of the plant depends on the size of the container.  An eight inch pot can give you a blooming plant two feet across.

Note. Few fall mum starter plants made it through the winter. Best to wait for spring.

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