For late season color in your garden, “Mum’s” the word!

Ron Lardie, KV Garden Center Manager and plant expert, has the answer to one of the most frequently asked question:

How do I get my “Hardy Mum” to come back up in the spring?

Hardy mums are so called because they are bred for northern climates.  They are not the “florist” mums which are bred for the flowers alone. However, many people in our area have difficulty getting their mums to come back in the spring after planting them in the fall. There are a few reasons for this.

First, mums like a well drained soil enriched with good organic matter. Heavy clay soil can cause slow growth and rotting in the winter.

Also, mums don’t like drying winds in the winter time. Plant them where they are protected from the wind, preferably on the south side of a house or garage in full sun.

Finally, when you buy mums in full bloom in late summer and fall, chances are they have been grown as fall blooming plants and not as perennials. Mums in nature perenniate by sending off rosettes of  new plants from underground stolons. After the original plant flowers and goes to seed, it dies off. The offshoots come back up in the spring. There are other plants that do this:  the yucca and the aloe plant are both reborn from offshoots when the original plant has died off. When mums are grown primarily for fall bloom they are started from a rooted stem cutting (that is not mature). Then they are pinched and fed to produce thick lush stems that will set buds and flower when the season is right. Most of these mums have not had a chance to mature and set off shoots for the following spring. You can get them to do so by burying the plant about two inches deeper.  This will help set off some runners and cause some of the lateral shoots to take root. Then late in the fall–usually after Thanksgiving– mulch them with straw or pine needles. The earlier that you plant mums the more likely they are to set offshoots by winter.