Sunday, October 6, 2013

Chrysanthemums in Pots

It is an acquired skill to grow and groom mums to be a perfect specimen with gorgeous bloom bursting forth as the weather cools. You want the shape of the plant to be full, with plentiful blooms and relatively close proximity.  The gardeners rule of thumb is 'no cutting back after July 4th'. It is not an exact science to trim back the plant just right, especially if you have varied sun and shade patterns as I do.  My goal is to produce full body Mum plants (in pots) suitable to display around my house and to share with my son's Pete and Paul. 

The mum stems reach for the light and can get lanky; creating weak stems that tend to hang instead of grow upright.  I want strong stems in the center of the plant to support a thick bloom.  So there is an element of trial and error to shape the Mum in the ideal form that you tend to see at the nurseries. From a practical standpoint, if I get really good spring growth, my trimmings of the growth can be my source for Mum cuttings to produce my next crop. I made about a dozen cuttings this year that are blooming nicely in my flower bed. 

In the picture to the below I have a yellow Mum in the background with a reddish purple Mum in front. This is a north west view  on my deck stairway landing. The sun is about perfect to give it the light it needs to grow and bloom. They seem to prefer a balanced amount of light and temperature which helps avoid the drying out tendency when you get direct sunlight all day.  I am quite pleased with the abundance of blooms on this plant. I planted my Mums, of course, in  my 'magic soil' early in the season in separate large flower pots.
My special soil consists of about 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat, 1/3 generic soil, and a fair amount of  sand and pearlite.The sand helps retain moisture and also prevents the soil from pulling away from the sides of the pot.The pearlite helps the roots to move easilty and aids drainage. I surmised that the sand might also keep the chipmunks from chomping through the soil to get at the roots, but they still seem to dig in the Mum's yard. The sand does help contain the moisture and I think creates an idea medium for plant growth. If I had a true green house, with good air flow, and continual sunlight,I think I could create award winning Mums. 

This was a good year for my Mums and I even left a few in my Hoop House and of course the humidity is making the blooms thrive; albeit, with a look of being a hanging Mum, with the stems looking a little gangley.  However, I  can not complain about the great display of color above. I was very happy with my Mums in the Garden Pots this year.  Next season  I plan to grow more cuttings from the yellow Mum so I have greater variety to display around my yard. This fall I displayed flower pots of Marigolds, Geraniums, Ageratum and Vinca vine on my 'Great Wall of Deegan', as Nancy calls it. See you in the garden. 

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