Choose the Right Mum for Autumn Beauty

Just as summer blooms begin to fade, chrysanthemums emerge to brighten the autumn landscape. But there are things to know before you buy this very popular fall plant.

“If you want to plant it in the ground and see it come up year after year, be sure to buy a hardy mum,” says Jamie Swanson, owner of S & H Nursery, 5956 McCurry Road in Roscoe. “Hardy” mums are bred to withstand our winters like other perennials do.

Annual mums, sometimes labeled “garden mum” or “florist mum,” are bred to provide one season of beauty like other annuals you might place in a pot on your front porch. Enjoy them while they last, keep them watered and expect them to die at the end of fall.

Both kinds of mums come in a variety of lovely colors including yellow, gold, rust, white, pink and lavendar.
Mums are sometimes confused with asters, another fall-blooming plant that comes in vivid shades of purple, blue, pink and white and also can be grown as a perennial.

S & H sells locally grown hardy mums known for their dense foliage, fullness and prolific large blooms.
“I sell them for as long as I can get them,” Swanson says. “They’re really popular.”

Plant hardy mums as soon as you purchase them, she recommends. “The earlier you get the mums into the ground, the better. Plant them while the buds are still tightly closed.”

For best results, don’t dig the hole too deep. Leave about a half inch of the plant soil above the ground to give roots a chance to breathe and adjust to new surroundings. Water and fertilize as you would other flowering plants, and pinch off tired blooms. As long as they’re well-maintained and weather permits, mums will keep blooming.

“I’ve seen mums still blooming outside at Christmas,” she says. ❚