One little flower is opening on my perennial mums in front of the house. I planted these a couple of years ago. I put three in the front and four on the east side of the house. The three have flourished and the ones on the side never did come up the next year.Unfortunately, perennials, even though they are presumed to live forever, get tired just like the rest of us. Tell me about it!Some are longer lived while others have shorter life spans. That isn't the case for the ones on the side. I think that the ones in front are more protected and get more TLC. I have read that you should divide these plants after a few years. My huge aster plant is an example of that. I am afraid to cut into it. The real reason I didn't divide was because I so enjoyed the huge ball of blossoms each fall that I was afraid it would ruin the plant to chop it into several sections that might not grow as perfectly rounded as this one. I'm afraid that dividing the plants will come back to bite me, however, and I will have no plant at all. Decisions...decisions. Hardy chrysanthemum, also called garden mums, but more simply just called ''mums,'' is a member of the daisy family of plants. Hardy mums should not be confused with ''florists' mums,'' which are not hardy to our northern midwestern gardens. Hardy mums spend their summers growing quite quickly and can get as tall as 2 to 3 feet if left unpruned. But pruning them in late spring and early summer, depending on the cultivar, can help keep the stems shorter and more compact, allowing them to stand up well after the flowers open up creating a top-heavy stem. Don't prune after the first week of July, or there won't be enough time for the plant to form buds for late summer's show.
You aren't limited to red or yellow mums either. New cultivars are being introduced all the time that include shades of lavender, pink, bronze and even copper. Joe says, "No yellow?" That husband of mine and his yellow. I planted marigolds for him...isn't that enough? Some mum varieties will bloom in late summer, some bloom in early fall and still others into October when they won't even mind a few heavy frosts. If you know what you have, you can set your pruning schedule based on the cultivar. Earlier flowering plants shouldn't be pruned later than mid-June. Early fall bloomers shouldn't be pruned after late June, and don't prune past the first week in July for the latest bloomers. To be safe, I don't prune any of my mums after July 1.
Chrysanthemums bloom, not because they are finally tall enough, but because the shorter days and longer nights of summer's end encourages them to bloom.Planting mums near streetlights or other outdoor lighting can confuse their blooming habit. They should, however, be planted where they can enjoy full sun. Hardy mums are shallow rooted so watering should be done close to the roots and as deeply watered as possible to encourage sturdy root growth to help hold the plants up above the soil line.
Deadheading flowers will not produce bushier plants, but pinching off the tips of the growing plants will encourage the growth of side shoots. Deadheading does improve the look of the plant.
Most mums in our area are bought and planted in the fall, although it is perfectly fine to plant them in the spring. Plants that have been forced into bloom for spring retailers can be sheared for fall bloom that same season. It also might be disappointing to bring home a 10-inch pot of blooming mums, put them in the ground and stand back to see a puny bush of flowers that barely peek above the soil line. Don't dismay. Next season these puny plants will thrive and before you know it, you will have a huge brilliant mound of mums to enjoy.
It should be noted that patience is needed in the spring to see the first emergence of the green shoots that will be fall's display. Some novice gardeners may think their plants didn't make it through the winter ( now this is what I think happened to my side mums...I got impatient and pulled them up) and will reluctantly pull them out during the spring cleanup. Don't give up quite so easily. They take a bit longer to start spring growth, but when the tiny first leaves emerge from the surface crown, more will quickly follow. My mums are as big as bushel baskets and full of buds as you can see. Courage Balisha...when it comes time to divide, get out the tools and have at it.