fall mums

Cheerful mums, with their autumnal hues, hardy character and abundance of blooms, are easily the showoff superstars of a fall garden.

These robust babies will produce blooms (and bunches of them) for weeks, even in finicky weather. And for those among us who prefer less labor-intensive gardening, all you need to plant these flowers are a few containers. Pop the plants in terracotta pots or in window boxes to add easy seasonal flair to your windows, porches or decks. In true fall style, mum varieties with burnt amber, golden yellow or deep burgundy blooms work perfectly with a display of pumpkins and gourds.

While resilient, these happy blossoms still need some TLC. Try these four tips to keep your mums looking fresh all through fall.

1. Make a plan

Selecting the right variety of mums can mean the difference between a pot overflowing with bronze blooms and a plant wilting with blackened leaves before Halloween even arrives.

First, you need to decide whether or not you want to transplant your mums to the garden after they’ve lost their panache. If you plan on using your mums as perennials, you’ll need to choose a hardy mum variety, or select mums that have been raised locally so they fit your zone. With a little gardening elbow grease, when transplanted, these locally-raised mums will last through winter and produce new blooms next fall.

If you simply want your mums to dress up your doorway, however, then choose whichever varieties you like. Keep in mind that garden mums will last longer through chilly weather than florist mums. Don’t forget to compost your one-use mums when the season’s over.

2. Be choosy

A sick plant can quickly ruin your floral fall display. Check your mums for these conditions:

  • At the store, scrutinize plants for signs of insect or disease damage before you plunk down your money. Mums’ foliage should have a deep green color and lots of growth.
  • Also, make sure the soil in the container is moist. Dried out mums may have already suffered damage.
  • Don’t be swayed by those gorgeous splashes of color at the store or nursery. Instead, choose green plants with tightly closed buds. This way when your mums do bloom, you can keep those sweet, colorful displays all to yourself—for longer.

3. A little TLC

Mums are thirsty little suckers. Water them daily and make sure the soil remains moist. Use new soil if you’re planting your mums in the same pots as your summer flowers. Those summertime blooms may have eaten up all of the tasty nutrients. Or, at least add an organic fertilizer to the mix.

4. Mix it up

To get more bloom for your buck, plant different varieties of mums. Mums can bloom in early, middle or late fall. Check the tags or ask an expert at your local nursery for suggestions.

image: Mr.Mac2009

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