The Q&A Archives: asters/mums

Questioner's Location: Groton, MA
Date: October 14, 2005

Question: Are mums and asters different? How do I keep the mum from dying? I just purchased a gorgeous mum at Home Depot that would be $25 for only $9.99. I'd like to see it return every year. Is this possible? It's a mum and not an aster. I'm in zone 5b and have a solar green house I could store it in all winter. Thank You, S. in Groton,Mass.

Answer: Although the flowers are similar in appearance, asters and mums are completely different plants. Your mum will overwinter in the garden and next spring will send out healthy new shoots.

Here's some pointers on overwintering from "Perennials for Dummies" by Marcia Tatroe and NGA. 1. Cut back on watering as temps. cool. This signals plants that it's time to go into dormancy and helps "harden" them off. 2. If you had any insect problems, remove any plant debris and mulch from that area so eggs and disease won't overwinter. 3. Place a fresh 4-6 inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants. 4. If your temps. are regularly below 0 degrees Farenheit, don't cut back the perennials until late winter or early spring. The dead foliage helps protect them from cold. 5. After the ground freezes, cover the whole bed with a loose layer of straw or hay. Leave it until early spring and then gradually remove it as temps. warm. Don't remove it all at once.

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