2011-10-14 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Mums The Word
Commentary By Danielle, 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. New transplants need to be watered thoroughly to 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.

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. If planting in a flower bed, be sure to get those mums in the ground at least six weeks before the first frost so they can establish their roots. Hardy mums are likely to come back every year if winter conditions are not too harsh. When the stems of your mum plant begin to blacken from the colder weather you have to cut stems a few inches from the ground and cover them with mulch to protect them from the freezing temperatures to ensure their return.

There are a few things you can look for when choosing a mum plant. Tight, full foliage is most desirable with fresh live greens filling the stems from the soil to the bloom. Tall leggy plants never have as many blooms and often look tired and withered. It is best to choose plants whose flowers are beginning to show color. They will perform for a long time with a showy pop of color. Often flowers that are in full bloom do not last as long and by choosing ones with really tight buds you are chancing that they will never actually bloom before the leaves begin to turn black and die off.

Mums are very hardy as a fresh cut flower and even last a while out of water so try and get creative in the way you use them. 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 add a touch of the harvest to your gift and 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 in a brown paper bag and tied with a raffia bow and a stem of fresh cut mums from your garden.

Looking for colorful hardy mums or fall decorations for your home or garden? Feel free to write or visit us at Danielle’s Rockaway Florist, 436 Beach 129 Street, Belle Harbor.

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