Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
November, 2011
Regional Report

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Mums come in many colors and shapes -- all striking!

Fall Color Means Mums

One of my great fall delights is the chrysanthemum. The wide variety of blossom shapes, sizes, and colors is astonishing and a real seasonal boon when growing and blooming in the garden and in containers, as well as displayed in vases indoors.

Types are designated by shape descriptions, including anemone, brush, cascade, cushion, decorative, football, homecoming, intermediate incurve, irregular curve, pompom, quill, reflex, regular incurve, semi-double, spider, spoon, and thistle. Colors range the rainbow.

Mums are easy to grow, and multiply prolifically so are easy to share with friends, especially beginning gardeners.

Widely available in 4-inch and 6-inch containers, they're easy to display in groups and then transplant into the garden or to more permanent and decorative containers. The only trick is to remember to separate individual plants, removing the peat potting medium, and transplant into potting soil that retains water better. Mums die "high and dry" when the original five-plants-in-peat mass is plunked whole into soil, since the peat dries out while the surrounding soil is still moist.

Once the plants are finished blooming, cut their stems to about three inches from the soil, rip them apart, trim the roots to about three inches, replant, and water in well. If the weather gets chilly enough, the foliage will die back completely before resprouting much more fully in the early spring.

Plants can be trimmed or left to develop according to planting location and intended use -- or neglect. To encourage bushiness and more masses of color, trim to about a foot tall several times through the spring and summer, up through August. Or they can be left to become straggly, crawling into nearby openings to pop up several feet from the original planting and add a spark of color. Planted at the edge of a wall, they can be left to drape and offer color at many lengths along the way.

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