October 2010

Fall-planted mums need TLC to make it through winter

'Matchsticks' mum. Photo courtesy

'Matchsticks' mum. Photo courtesy

Mum season is upon us, and every year, gardeners want to know how to help these perennials survive winter, or when to divide them.

Even though it’s contrary to what the market tells us, the best time to divide and plant Chrysanthemum and its cousin Dendranthemum is spring.

The problem is that mums are hard to find in spring. That’s because the mums are sold as what’s called ‘green’ in the trade — small, leafy plants that don’t really put on their show until late summer and early fall. However, if you can find mums in spring, buy and plant them.

Mums are a fall commodity, burgeoning from garden centers, nurseries and roadside stands. These mums have been hybridized and grown all summer to bloom now. To help them survive the winter:

  • Plant them in the ground in a sunny spot as soon as possible. Keep them evenly moist.
  • Do not cut them back in winter. The dead stems help insulate the base of the plant and its roots. Wait until you see new leaves forming at the base of the plant in spring.
  • As the mums grow next year, prune them back by one-half until July 4. This reins in the height, improves the shape and increases the number of flowers.

Here are more tips.

Mum growing tips video.

Indiana in Bloom

America in Bloom has awarded Bloomington, Ind., the top prize for 2010 for 50,000- to 100,000-population size. The city also won first place in the urban forestry category. Rising Sun, Ind., picked up the 2010 national award for tidiness, in the national beautification and civic pride competition.

Indianapolis won the top award in 2003 in its population category. Other Indiana competitors since 2001 include: Columbus, Frankfort, Greenfield, Shipshewana, Aurora, North Manchester, Michigan City, Greendale, Ligonier, Lafayette and West Lafayette.

Here’s info on how your community can compete.