A lifelong love of mums
Since childhood, this gardener has been surrounded by chrysanthemums, generating a lifelong love of the plants that brighten fall as no others can.
(Page 2 of 2)
Later, after I got married, I carried cuttings of these mums into my own gardens. Unfortunately, my mums never received any compliments for they were gangly, wind-whipped hulks with blossoms way too small for their height. I had never given them the love and attention bestowed by my elders.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Mums, like children, need boundaries. And hardy mums have a few unique growing quirks. To grow stocky, heavy-flowering plants, pinching back the growing tips several times in spring and early summer is essential.
I never did – for lack of time or inclination, I really can’t say. At the very least, I should have staked them and pinched off most of the buds from the lowest section of the stems. To my discredit, I never did this, either.
Still, they have survived, if not thrived, under my care.
As years passed, commercial growers introduced new varieties of mums that soon became the darlings of the floral industry. Regal and bright, they were bred to retain their good looks and color longer than other potted plants.
Thus, all of my friends and neighbors who had babies, were hospitalized or incapacitated for any reason or invited us for evenings filled with merriment and sumptuous food wound up with my ubiquitous offering – potted mums.
And Monet, one of my favorite painters, didn’t stop with waterlilies, either; he also painted glorious pots of mums.
So yes, to this day I buy those potted cushion mums in full autumn flower so readily available everywhere for some immediate gratification. I treat them as annuals, enjoying their fiery colors now, and remembering them fondly when they are gone.
But come next spring, I intend to revisit my old friends in my garden, lovingly divide them, pinch them back a few times, and hope they’ll keep my garden colorful – and my memories vivid and bright – for seasons to come.
Growing instructions for Northern and Southern gardens
For Southern regions, see “Chrysanthemum” at Clemson Cooperative Extension.
Betty Earl, the Intrepid Gardener, blogs regularly at Diggin' It. She's the author of “In Search of Great Plants: The Insider’s Guide to the Best Plants in the Midwest.” She also writes a regular column for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine and The Kankakee Journal and numerous articles for Small Gardens Magazine, American Nurseryman, Nature’s Garden, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as other national magazines. She is a garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens and a regional representative for The Garden Conservancy. To read more by Betty, click here.