Denver Plants

The Gardens last Hurrah... Fall Garden Mums

As our summer draws to a close and cooler temperatures begin to prevail, we know the growing season is nearing its end. But is it really the end... or time for a new beginning? 
We've all heard the saying "Fall is for Planting".

This months topic... Fall Garden Mums

A very popular plant for late season color is Fall mums, sometimes Fall Mums called "Garden mums" or "Hardy mums". Fall mums were once known as Chrysanthemums but taxonomists have recently changed their botanical name to Dendranthema x grandiflora. Fall mums are available in a wide selection of colors, flower types... shapes and sizes. Fall mums are a low maintenance easy to grow plant that can be kept in containers or grown in beds. They are drought resistant and generally free of insect and disease pests.

How to Grow and Care for Fall Garden Mums

Most Fall mums are purchased and planted from late August into September. Fall mums prefer to be planted in an area that receives full sun, but most cultivars can get by with a half day of direct sunshine. For ultimate growth, plant your new fall mums in fertile well drained soil. Poorly drained soil is the leading cause of winter mortality. Young plants... that is those in small containers should be planted 18" to 24" apart. Mature plants can be planted at any desired spacing providing they are planted no closer than just touching its neighbor. Fall mums in above ground containers need to be planted in a flower bed before the first hard frost!

Fall mums should never be allowed to wilt... especially newly transplanted plants. Check your fall mums every couple of days for watering until you become familiar with their needs, particularly during dry spells. Be sure to thoroughly water-in your new transplants.

Newly planted fall mums will not require any fertilizer this season. During the next growing season begin feeding your fall mums as new growth emerges, with the plant food of your choice. Feed your plants monthly until August.

Over-wintering... getting them to come back again
Most fall mums are winter hardy in Colorado. One of the most important tips in over wintering fall mums is to keep the soil moist as winter approaches. If you're the tidy type... after several hard frosts have blackened the plants, cut them back to near soil level. If not, just leave the plants until the next growing season and cut them back then. 

Mulching your fall mums to a depth of 3" - 4" after the soil has frozen will help to ensure their return the following spring. The purpose of mulching your fall mums is to keep the soil frozen.

Re-growing... the following spring
Once your fall mums start re-growing... remove the old stems if you haven't done so previously. This is the time to start feeding your fall mums with your favorite plant food every month until August.

To encourage branching and compact bushy growth, its important to pinch your fall mums in early spring. Once your plants have reached 4" - 6" remove about 1" to 2" of new growth on every shoot. After the plants have grown 3" - 5" shoots from the first pinching... its time to pinch again. Stop pinching your plants around mid July. This may seem like a drastic measure... but come fall you'll be rewarded with compact bushy plants that are robust with flowers.

Propagating... giving new life to old plants
Your fall mums can be divided every two years in early spring. This helps maintain their vigor. To divide your plants simply take a sharp shovel and press it through the center of the plant and down into the soil. Dig out one of the halves and relocate it to a sunny area. Be sure to thoroughly water-in the new transplant. If you wish, the halves could be divided into quarters.

That's it. As you can see fall mums are very easy to grow. They'll provide you with constant color until the first hard freeze.

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