Who can resist picking up a new plant or two when they visit a farm stand or even the big box stores? Who doesn’t enjoy getting a new plant as a gift when friends or family come to visit? Whether you prefer blooms of deep red, orange, yellow, white and purple, mums are an excellent choice!
Mums are often potted and used for decorations throughout the fall season in the Northeast and not planted in the gardens. Is this because we’re all exhausted from having flowers and vegetable gardens? Unlike annuals, which are the way the majority of people treat their mums, they are perennials that will return year after year with minimal work. You can still enjoy them in pots until Thanksgiving rounds the corner, but then it is time to make the move from pot to ground.
Did you know that the best time to plant mums are just like any other flowers? That would be in the spring. Perhaps this is why we see them being thrown out in droves. If the ground has not frozen from an early cold snap of cold spell, then there is still time to get the mum in the ground.
Mums are not a picky plant, they are rather hardy and can handle slightly acid soil, slightly sandy soil and with the tiniest bit of tender love and care, they will return next year and give you beautiful leaves through the spring with buds opening in mid-September.
Step 1: Remove the mums from the potted plant or container.
Step 2: Determine a location that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day.
Step 3: Dig a hole which can fit the entire mum, not just the soil/root portion as you would with a typical perennial, the blooms have passed and now it’s about putting 100% of the plant back into the earth.
Step 4: Prepare the soil with Compost tea (buy locally as they compliment soil from your area) or an organic starter.
Step 5: Place the entire plant in the ground and cover with dirt. If the root of the plant looks like white worms it may have become root bound in the pot and you should loosen the roots to give the plant the best chance.
The success rate of planting mums in the fall varies greatly on if the root system has a chance to develop before the ground freezes. Loosening the root and compost tea gives the plant the best chance. Next spring, you will see tiny green shoots coming up, which will turn into double the size of what it was the year before. Year after year, you now have yet another garden friend to welcome fall.
Stacy Skoldberg is co-owner of GreenSprays, an organic based lawn care and spray company dedicated to environmentally friendly methods and reducing toxins in the world. She spends her free time with her twins and in her vegetable and flower gardens. Stacy can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-916-3666