Fall means garden mums

Richard Bogren, Owings, Allen D.  |  9/14/2012 11:25:36 PM

News Release Distributed 09/14/12

By Allen Owings, LSU AgCenter horticulturist

With fall approaching and football season getting into full swing, garden mums become one of the popular plants available for home landscapes. These plants are also known as chrysanthemums, and some folks in north Louisiana and other parts of the state refer to this popular plant as “pinks.”

Garden mums fill the gap between the end of the warm-season bedding plant period and the true beginning of the time for cool-season bedding plants.

Mums start appearing at garden centers during the latter part of August. They provide cool-season color from September through early November most years.

When purchasing garden mums, select top-quality plants and varieties that will bloom in the early, middle and later parts of the season. Flower colors are abundant with yellows, pinks, white, bronzes, lavenders, purples and others available. Two-toned bicolor flowers have been recently introduced.

Garden mums perform well in full to partial sun – six to eight hours of direct sun is ideal.

Be sure to properly prepare a landscape bed by improving aeration and internal drainage with additions of pine bark or some other form of organic matter. Select a site protected from northern and windy exposures. Provide about 2 feet between plants. Close spacing results in leggy, upright growth.

After planting, apply about 3 pounds of a slow-release fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed area. Broadcast the fertilizer uniformly over the entire bed and lightly water it in. Mulch with a 1-inch layer of pine bark, shredded pine straw or a similar material.

Because fall typically is dry in Louisiana, be aware that lack of water on garden mums delays flowering, slows or stops growth, and increases susceptibility to pest pressures. On the other hand, proper moisture leads to a successful garden mum crop. It is also imperative to avoid overhead irrigation and water only the bed area or around the dripline of each plant. Do not soak garden mums at the base of each plant. This will result in stem rot problems.

You can maintain garden mums as perennial plants if you follow these practices:

– Keep soil moist (not wet) through winter.

– Prune lightly several times between late winter and midspring next year.

– Continue mulching.

– Maintain good insect and disease management.

– Fertilize lightly in spring with a slow-release fertilizer.

Garden mums will bloom according to natural daylength conditions again next year, usually in late spring and then again in fall.

Petunias, ornamental peppers, marigolds and zinnias are good companion flowers for garden mums as we go into the fall season. You can add garden mums to containers on the patio or in landscape beds to add color through October and November.

You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by viewing the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals.

Rick Bogren

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