Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mums the Word

Garden mums are ubiquitous in fall gardens. The beauty of their instant fall color is hard to beat. The mums for sale in fall nurseries have been coddled to set buds for September blooms and are putting an awful lot of energy into blooming, not growing roots.  These garden mums may carry the label of being "hardy", but planting these out in the garden  in the fall  usually does not allow sufficient  time for the plants to become established.   In our area with some winter days of below zero, freezing and thawing of the soil will heave the plant out of the ground and kill the roots.  While spring-planted garden mums have a much better chance of survival, you can increase the survival rate of fall-planted garden mums by planting as soon as possible, keeping the foliage on until spring, and mulching the plants heavily.   Of course you can always enjoy the beauty of garden mums and consider them annuals.

Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Sheffield Pink' in my garden
Did you know there are truly hardy perennial chrysanthemums?  They are later blooming than the garden mums and will extend your growing season well into October.  You will not find the perennial chrysanthemums for sale with the fall garden mums.  Nurseries generally place them with perennials.

The chrysanthemum world has not made it easy on us, as they have been busy classifying and reclassifying perennial mums.
Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Mary Stoker' in my garden
About seven years ago these hardy perennial mums were reclassified from Chrysanthemums.   After the reclassification you would find perennial mums listed  as Chrysanthemum rubellum, Chrysanthemum X rubellum and Chrysanthemum koreana.  Then four years ago they were reclassified again to Chrysanthemums.  Now I find them listed under all classifications.

Many perennial gardeners are familiar with the Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Clara Curtis' often found in local nurseries along with Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Sheffield Pink' .  The following perennials are not as easy to find locally, but are definitely worth looking into for your fall garden.

  •  Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Mary Stoker'
  •  Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Sheffield Yellow'
  •  Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Venus'  (Pink  and White Form)
  •  Chrysanthemum x 'Bolero'
  •  Chrysanthemum x 'Cambodian Queen'
Let your favorite nursery know you are interested in purchasing perennial chrysanthemums.  They may be able to include them in their perennial stock next year.

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