A Sentiment

God knew what He was doing when He sent a gentle breeze and brought a lovely butterfly to set my heart at ease. The happiness of your friendship and the gentleness of your words have touched my life in special ways and now I feel assured. Thank you for your loyalty and for reading everyday. I only hope you find things to make a happy day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Tiny Bit of Color

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.



Barbee' said...

Isn't the power of suggestion amazing?! All the time I was reading your post I could smell that sharp odor of bruised mum plants.

Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Hi Balisha,
I hope you are recovering quickly. I loved your post today, and the fact that it was long and informitive was a wonderful sign. Plus...it has so much information about Mums. I bought many of them early last year and cut them back. This year they have gone from their stumps...to lovely yellows in front of the house. Actually all over the place. I have them potted and in the ground. They are mostly the tiny ones. I bought the ones that are larger this year...and one I found I hope is the lovely lavendar you spoke of. :) Thank you for helping me along with learning about gardening.
I will print this post..and I never absorb everything the first time through... :)

Amber Star said...

I started reading your blog while you were in the hospital. Granted you weren't too talky then, but I felt somehow you would be again. You are and it is wonderful. I love mums and planted them all over the place last year. Some bloomed off and on all summer and that is something in Texas. We've had so much rain lately a lot of plants are having problems with too much water. Looks the same as too little, but I know for a fact it is from too much. I'm waiting for a goodly supply of mums to come to the nursery around me and then I'm getting another biggo bunch of them. Oh yes...I came from Judy's.

Judy said...

I love the lavender mums. I have planted them twice now in the fall and they never came back. I did not plant any yet this year and don't know if I will or not. I enjoyed learning all about them and may end up trying again. I hope your chili and bread pudding was good and you both enjoyed it. I cook all the time it seems. I am cooking sourdough bread right now.
My children go straight to the kitchen when they come over here and start rummaging around for something to eat!

cwa said...

Thanks for the information on the mums. We recently purchased two and are hoping we can actually keep them alive long enough for them to become perennials. One is burgundy and one is yellow. I really enjoy their rich color. Blessings to you.

Barbee' said...

I read that the yellow ones (mums and other flowers) seem stronger and last longer than the other colors. Tell Joe, that should make him happy.