Barberton Mum Fest co-founder and Franklin Park Conservatory horticulturist offer mum-growing advice.
Horticulturist Bill Aulenbach says 80 percent of mums purchased in the United States are used for seasonal decoration and then either discarded or composted. Because mums are fall bloomers, most consumers buy them at this time of year, but spring is generally considered the better time to get the tender perennial into the ground.
“If you want to plant a mum in fall, get it in as early as you can to let the root system establish,” says Aulenbach, a co-founder of Barberton’s annual Mum Fest. “Keep watering it until the first hard frost. That’s sometimes hard to do because many people figure the growing season is over. Mulch the plants [with leaves] and don’t cut the stems back because they help hold the mulch in place.”
In the spring, Aulenbach advises to leave the mulch in place until temperatures are consistently warm. “Don’t be in a hurry to remove the mulch or you will freeze any new growth, even if we have a short warm spell,” he says. “After you see new growth, then cut the old growth off.”
Charlie Richardson, a horticulturist with Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, encourages pinching the plants until July 4 to encourage bushy growth and maximum flowers. Two of her favorite new garden mum varieties include Flamingo Neon Mum, a hot pink variety that is hardy in Ohio and Beverly Bronze, which she says has “tight, mounded growth and tons of flowers.”
The National Chrysanthemum Society suggests a slightly acid garden soil with a pH reading of about 6.5 for growing mums. A 5-10-5 fertilizer is also recommended, as is full sun. When the flower blooms in September and October, watering three times a week is sufficient.
Read our September 2015 story about mums here.