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How To Keep Your Potted Mums Looking Fresh

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Photo of potted mums.

Perhaps no sight signals the coming of fall to gardeners more than a pot of brightly colored mums. Here are some tips for keeping yours looking their best this fall.

Determine Use-Annuals vs. Perennials

The first thing to determine when selecting your potted mums is whether or not you eventually want to transplant them to the garden after they are done being displayed. If growing them as perennials, make sure you choose hardy fall mums or garden mums that have been raised locally and are rated for your hardiness zone. If you plan on using your potted mums as annuals, simply choose whatever plants strike your fancy. Keep in mind that hardy garden mums, as opposed to florist mums, will be much more able to withstand cool crisp nights if you plan to display them outdoors. Florist mums, on the other hand, may start to develop black leaves if exposed to temperature below 60 degrees F.

Selecting Your Plants

Select only those with deep green leaves and vigorous growth. Pay special attention to the flower heads. They should be well-formed and pristine with no signs of wilt. If even a single flower head exhibits one or two wilted petals, make sure you perform the thrip test before plunking down your hard earned money (see below).

The thrip test: If you plan to display your potted mums indoors, the last thing you want is to introduce your houseplants to a pest problem. A florist taught me to check potted mums for thrips by using the following test ( a good idea when introducing any new houseplant) and save me from a what could have been a big headache.

Take a small piece of white paper with you to the store. Before making your purchase, carefully tip the potted mum on its side so that the paper is positioned under the flowers. Brush your hand across the tops of the flower blossoms, sweeping any loose debris down onto the paper. If you see anything resembling a tiny (and I mean tiny) black speck running for its life, discard the plant immediately. It has Thrip.

Potted Mum Care

Potted mums can drink considerable amounts of water-especially when kept indoors. Whether youre displaying them indoors or out, check their moisture levels several times each week. Keep the soil slightly moist (never wet), and make sure the pot is never allowed to stand in water for more than a few hours. Good soil drainage is essential.

Fertilizing potted mum is not necessary when they are blooming. If you buy plants that are not blooming yet, feed them every other week with a water-soluble organic fertilizer.

Tips for Extending Blooms

You can extend your total bloom time by picking plants with tight buds (the more the better) rather than those with wide-open flowers. The flowers will also last longer if you keep them out of direct sunlight while they are in bloom.

When displaying mums indoors, keep them away from heat vents and cold air returns. Remove (deadhead) spent blooms as soon as they fade to keep plants well groomed.

Troubleshooting

  • Lack of flowers: If buds are small or fail to open, try giving the plant more light.
  • Black leaves: Your mums may be too cold. More them to a warmer location.
  • Yellow leaves: You mums may either be too wet or receiving too much humidity. Let the surface of the soil dry out to the touch before watering again and move the plant to a drier location.
  • Gray, fuzzy leaves: This could signal a fungal disease. Move your mum to a drier, warmer location and allow it to dry out some before watering it again.

Mums fail to survive winter or fail to bloom following year: You may have planted mums that were not hardy to your zone. For example, florist type mums (those available year round) are typically less hardy than garden mums. Because they take longer to bloom (bloom later in the season), their flower buds may suffer fall frost damage before they have a chance to open.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

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By likekinds [38]11/10/2013

I have been raising Mums for many years and this is an excellent article. I would add though, that some florist Mums are very Winter hardy and will last for years in the garden, particularly in well drained soil. If you have one, do plant it in the garden after flowers are spent. You've nothing to lose and maybe years of enjoyment to gain.

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