Most, but not all, 'mums' do not bloom until fall


For generations, chrysanthemums have blessed Southern gardens.

I remember my mom had these little white ones, plus pink, purple, yellow and red ones. Chrysanthemums, better known as "mums," are easily grown. Some would bloom shortly after school started and others in October and November. The little red ones would bloom at Christmas and were called "Christmas mums."

I carried many a bouquet to my teachers in grade school. You don't see mums in today's gardens very often, and I have wondered if it is because people are too impatient. Mum plants are seen in the garden all year, and though they may bloom some in spring, most do not bloom until fall. I think most people just pull them out rather than allowing them a place until they bloom.

Chrysanthemums grow into a large patch of green right at ground level in winter, so they would make a good winter ground cover. They begin growing taller as spring gets warmer and need to be pinched back two or three times by mid-summer.

Fertilize in May or June and again in September with a little 15-5-10 fertilizer, and they will erupt into bloom in October through December. After they bloom, cut off all old bloom stalks and allow the new green growth to sit and enjoy all the winter sun it can get.

Mums are very old-fashioned flowers, and everyone needs a few. They make wonderful cut flowers to bring inside, and they last a long time.

In a year or two, you will have plenty to share with friends, or just pull out and add to the compost pile.

You may be able to pick up some mums for practically nothing at garden centers once the blooms have faded. The plants are still good. Nursery mums are not like the old-time ones, and usually do not perform quite as well.

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