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Consider Garden Mums for Fall Color

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I love the bright fall colors that pop in gardens all across the US this time of year.  On closer examination it is usually a a garden chrysanthemum that is just bursting into bloom.  It always seems to be summer's last breath before mother nature tucks our garden in for winter.  They bloom in many colors,  yellow, orange, red, purple, bronze, pink and white. The flower heads have many different forms as well, from the popular cushion or button type, that have compact, wider petals to the spider types that have long, narrow petals.  My personal favorites are the daisy type with the bright yellow centers.

These plants do best when planted in late spring after danger of frost, but the can do well if planted in the fall with proper care and watering.  Many plants are sold in the fall so for successful transplant, try to keep the plants stress free as possible with proper watering and sun, to make for a higher chance of survival through the winter.  If planted in the fall, give it a little extra protection for it's first winter. The best planting site for garden mums are sunny spots where the soil had good drainage and there is good air circulation.  Many garden chrysanthemums need to be divided every couple of years.  This should be done in the early spring.  Lift the plant, cut away the healthy, rooted rhizomes and replant them.

If you are wanting to recreate that full blooming plant next year, pinch off the flower heads as they begin to come up.  This makes the plant become bushier and fuller.  To do this pinch or snip off 1/2 to 1" of stem below each new bud in about mid June, and then again in mid July.  When they do bloom for you in the fall, the plant will be covered with blossoms that will last from 6-8 weeks or until a hard frost.

Garden chrysanthemum come in different cultivars with a range of winter hardiness.  To have better success with your plant, be sure it is planted in well drained soil and mulch the plant AFTER the ground is frozen to help maintain a constant temperature and reduce winter thrusting of roots from repeated thaws and freezes.

Here is a list of Hardy Garden Chrysanthemum's from The University of Minnesota

Recommended University of Minnesota Chrysanthemum Varieties

Variety

Flower color

Flower description

Height**

Time of bloom***

Autumn Fire

Burnt orange

3 ½" decorative

Tall

Midseason

Betty Lou Maxi-mumTM

Red

2 ½" button

Medium
30" spread

Early
Early

Burnt Copper

Orange bronze

3" double pompon

Tall

Midseason

Centennial Sun

Golden yellow

1 ½" double decorative

Medium

Early

Centerpiece

Rose lavender, gold centers

4" quill

Tall

Early to midseason

Dr. Longley

Bright rose pink

3" flat, decorative

Medium

Early to midseason

Gold Country

Peachy bronze to golden yellow

4" double, decorative

Tall

Midseason

Golden Jubilee

Deep gold

3" decorative

Medium

Early

Golden Star

Rich deep yellow

3 ½" single spoon

Medium

Early

Goldstrike

Golden yellow

2" pompon

Medium

Early

Grape Glow

Bright rosy purple

3 ½" flat decorative

Medium

Midseason

Inca

Light bronze orange

2" double button

Low

Early

Lemonsota

Lemon yellow

1" pompon

Low

Midseason

Lindy

Lavender pink

4 ½" quilled incurve

Tall

Midseason

Maroon Pride

Dark red

3 ½" flat, decorative

Medium

Early

Mellow Moon

Cream

4 ½" semi-incurved decorative

Medium

Midseason

MinnAutumn*

Reddish bronze

2 ½" formal decorative

Low

Midseason

Minnglow

Light lemon yellow

2 ¼" decorative

Low

Midseason

Minngopher

Crimson red

2 ¼" decorative

Low

Late

Minnpink

Rose pink

1 ½" flat, decorative

Low

Early

Minnqueen

Bright rose pink

3" decorative

Low-medium

Midseason

Minnrose

Deep rose pink

1 ½" pompon

Low

Midseason

Minnruby

Ruby red

2 ¼" decorative

Low

Midseason

Minnwhite

White

2" decorative

Low

Early

Minnyellow

Rich lemon yellow

2" decorative

Low

Late

Rose Blush

Mauve

2 - 3" decorative

Low-medium

Midseason

Rosy Glow

Deep rosy pink

4" decorative incurved

Medium

Midseason

Royal Knight

Burgundy, silver underside

3 ½" reflexed decorative

Tall

Midseason

Royal Pomp

Bright purple

2" pompon-spicy fragrance

Medium

Midseason

Snowscape

White, purple tips

3' semi-double decorative

Low

Early

Snowsota

White, cream centers

1 ½" pompom

Low

Midseason

Wayzata

Bright yellow

3" flat, decorative

Tall

Early

Wendy Ann

Fawn yellow

4" semi-spoon

Medium

Early

Yellow Glow

Rich yellow

2 ¾" decorative

Tall

Midseason

Zonta

Apricot bronze

2 ½" pompon

Medium

Midseason

* Names beginning with Minn indicate cushion habit of growth.

** Low: up to 12 inches; medium: 12 - 18 inches; tall: over 18 inches. These measurements refer to first-year plants properly spaced and grown in full sun.

 

*** Early: starts blooming before September 1; midseason: September 1 - 15; late: September 15 on (Twin Cities Area).

Finally, propagation.  We have already looked at dividing, but Garden Chrysanthemums are a breeze to propagate!  Just cut a 6" strip of plastic and run a 2" layer of damp sphagnum moss (paper towel works as well but need to check it for signs of mold) along it. Dip cuttings in rooting hormone (or cinnamon) and lay them in a line with the leaves above the edge of the plastic. Fold the plastic lengthwise like you are tucking your geraniums in bed then roll the strip of plastic up. Tie the bundle just below the leaves to keep the moisture in and check occasionally to make sure moss stays damp. Then keep an eye out for the roots that will soon peek through the moss.

While there are florist mums that can be purchased to grow in the garden that die in the fall,  it is the Garden mum that comes back year after year to create mounds of color though out our gardens. When buying plants, be certain you are getting garden mums.

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