September 21, 2009

Fall Show from Hardy Garden Mums


My attitude about common garden mums used to be - that they are "temporary" plants to put in containers for fall color and then dismiss.

A year ago, I bought a few mums from a big box store to use on my front porch. I don't know why I didn't toss them like always, but they overwintered in the planters on the protected porch until spring.

In early spring they were green and looking good, so I asked Tina at In the Garden blog about when to transplant the mums to the garden. In the ground they went. After that, I didn't give them much attention except to keep them in shape. The foliage is quite beautiful and can easily be kept in a mound (meatball) shape with a bit of pinching back to promote fall blooms. I stopped pinching back the mums around July 4.

I love to experiment with conditions and critters to test how plants perform. I planted one in very hot, scorching conditions (these photos), one shaded by taller annuals (zinnias) and one outside the fence where the deer party all night long. No bugs, bunnies or deer have (to date) eaten the foliage, buds or blooms.

My three mums never complained about too much or too little water or attention and they are evergreen here in zone 7. That's a lot of positives and no negatives, unless you just hate the look of mums or their vigorous expansion in the garden.

Time to rethink the use of common garden mums!

Since I've basically ignored hardy garden mums until now, I'm no expert. Here is a link to read about the zone and care for Chrysanthemum morifolium.

As for companions, the mum shown in the photos was planted with a few other experiments. The coneflower is from seeds I collected from 'Prairie Splendor' and the sedum 'Green Expectations' is a tip that I pinched back from a mother plant in early summer. The hardy geranium 'Rozanne' was a rescue from the deer (moved inside the fence) and the rabbits (had to spray repellent). The dark red coleus were left-overs from container plantings this spring. Not a bad display for a bunch of misplaced and displaced plants. That said, they are crowded into this tiny space so I'll rearrange this bed again next spring.

With my positive in-ground experience with garden mums, I may look into some of the more interesting varieties in the spring catalogs next year!


Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; September 2009

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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