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Mum’s the Word

The crickets may still be chirping and the cicadas humming but that dry, cool morning air is making a comeback, and that can only mean one thing. One of the showiest flowers that thrive in the cool, crisp air of fall is making its appearance! The Chrysanthemum….or the more familiar name that many use, the Mum. Mums are the last breath of summer when many of the other perennials have retired for the season and cease to amaze.

On a recent visit to my garden center, I could hardly contain myself! No pun intended! There, looking out over a sea of color, I saw container after container of Mums in a variety of blooms, and colors ranging from white, yellow, orange or bronze, to red, purple or pink. The hardest part for me is choosing just the right color, although I would love to have one of each. There may be plants a plenty but the cash flow not so much!

Through the years I’ve learned that when selecting a plant, I don’t buy one already in full bloom. I make sure there is an abundance of unopened buds, which guarantees a longer bloom time since the buds will open in intervals throughout the season. If Mums are in full bloom already, they’re probably not far away from losing their brilliance.

A “word to the wise” to keep in mind: location is very important. The best time for them to sunbathe is in the early morning hours for about 5 to 6 hours and not the hot afternoon sun. This is the tricky part because even though they love the sun, it also means they will bloom faster and fade quicker, so it’s important to keep them cooler and in bright, indirect light the rest of the day to prolong their blooms.

Another good reason to give them morning sun is to dry the morning dew off their leaves. Mums are susceptible to mildew so keep them in a place where air circulates around them to keep them dry. Also, when watering your Mums, try not to get water on the leaves and flowers. Make sure you always water them at the bottom of the plant on the dirt in the container.

Usually, when I buy Mums from my garden center, they come in a not so pretty plastic pot, so for a decorative touch (as if the flowers aren’t enough), I place the Mum, plastic pot and all, into a more attractive container. It’s a no-fuss time saver for me considering I always have extra containers hanging around. If you don’t, here are a few examples of containers for displaying your Mums:

If you prefer a classic, lightweight urn made of polypropylene this will do the job: amzn.to/1Mq9KLy.

This elegant ribbed metal urn is also lightweight but has a natural appeal:  thd.co/1YBRHIV.

If your preference tends to lean toward the ceramic/stone glazed look, this container is for you: thd.co/1NMIEzM.

For a container that’s too deep, place a wooden block or an empty coffee can in the bottom of the container to prop up the Mum. I mention this because it’s happened to me; I thought I had just the right container only to have my Mum (not my mother…just saying) disappear into the abyss! The ribbed metal urn I mentioned above might need that extra prop.

And so to conclude, the Chrysanthemum is truly a fall favorite of mine and I can’t say enough about these fearless flowers of fall, only Mums the word! And I don’t mean keep it to yourself!