2006-10-13 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Care For Your Mum
Commentary by Danielle McShane Danielle's Rockaway Florist

The flowers we have tended to all summer long are beginning to fade. The days have been getting a bit colder, and the air more brisk.

More obvious signs of fall are popping up everywhere.

Leaves begin to turn, and fill our streets with vibrant hues of red, gold and burgundy.

Pumpkins will line the stairways leading to every door and fall mums decorate the pots and flower beds where tulips and daffodils once stood.

Hardy mums are a low maintenance, easy to grow plant, available in a large selection of colors and sizes.

They are generally resistant to disease and drought, and require little care. Most cultivars prefer full sun for at least four to five hours a day.

Thoroughly water new transplants, and keep the soil moist.

You can brighten up your window box, or create a border of bold color in your garden with mass planting. Rich tones of rust, maroon, yellow, white, orange, and purple mums will do the job. Hybridized mums are also available in bi-color blooms, although are harder to find.

DANIELLE McSHANEDANIELLE McSHANE If you plan to reuse the containers from your spring planting, be sure that there are no pests in the soil, and that none of the previous plants carried disease. If so, replace all of the soil and clean the container before replanting. Be sure to plant the mums at least six weeks before the first frost, so that they may establish their roots. Hardy mums are likely to come back every year, as long as winter conditions are not too harsh. When the stems begin to blacken from the colder weather, be sure to cut stems close to the ground, and cover with 3-4 inches of mulch to ensure their return.

Tight, full foliage is moist desirable.

To achieve this look, "disbudding," more commonly known as "pinching," the plant is necessary in early spring.

When the mums grow about 6" tall, pinch them back 2".

After another 5" of new growth, pinch them back again. This will promote bushy greens, and compact flowers.

Fertilizing every month from the first sign of growth until August will help maintain the nutrients in the soil, and give an extra boost to keep plants strong.

Get Creative!

Share your gardening tips with neighbors, and share your flowers with friends. If you are having company, you may want to take a small cutting from your mum plant and place it in a bud vase by the bedside, or guest bathroom.

Using mums in gift-wrapping will sure get everyone talking.

Weather you are bringing a fresh baked apple pie to your host for dinner, or giving your friend a birthday gift, everyone would love to receive a box wrapped with in a brown paper bag, and tied with a raffia bow and a stem of fresh cut mums from your garden.

Do you have tips for our readers or questions about gardening?

Feel free to write me at Danielles Rockaway Florist@yahoo.com.

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