Colorize Your Fall Garden

Colorize Your Fall Garden

Instant impact! That’s what you’ll get when you add a generous helping of blooming chrysanthemums to your fall garden. By Doug Jimerson

These hardy colorful perennials are available now at garden centers across the country. Shop for your favorite colors and drop these blooming beauties into your garden beds, containers, or window boxes.

Selecting Mums
Chrysanthemums come in two basic types: florist and garden. Florist mums are the ones you see blooming in gift shops and grocery stores. They make excellent gifts, but are basically indoor plants and won’t overwinter in your garden. Garden mums, on the other hand, are perennials that have been developed to come back year after year in your garden, even in cold climates. The plant tag should tell you if you have a garden mum, but as a general rule, garden mums are sold on racks outside the garden center and florist mums are displayed with other houseplants indoors.

When you shop for chrysanthemums, look for plants with fresh, firm green leaves with a crown of flower buds just about to open. Don’t buy wilted plants or those where most of the flowers are completely open and beginning to brown. To plant, simply slip them out of their pots and drop them into containers or beds, wherever you need a quick dash of color.

Colors and Partners
Garden mums come in a wide variety of gorgeous colors including orange, red, purple, white, cream, yellow, and pink; choose a shade that complements your home or landscape. Mums go on sale in garden centers in autumn, the perfect time to color coordinate with holiday décor—choose blooming mums in Halloween and Thanksgiving colors (think orange, rust, and yellow). Colorful gourds, pumpkins, and Indian corn are great accents for mums, too.

You also get a selection of flower forms: single, daisy-like, double-pom-pons, and exotic flowers with spoon-shaped petals. No matter where you plant them, chrysanthemums look terrific by themselves or when paired with other fall bloomers such as pansies, asters, and ornamental grasses.

Chrysanthemum Care
Caring for chrysanthemums is easy. They require a sunny location and slightly moist, well-drained soil. And, because they are relatively frost resistant, they will keep on blooming even after nightly temperatures get chilly. Most mums will bloom for two to three weeks (keep them well watered). After the flowers fade, clip them off, but leave the foliage intact. If you are growing mums in containers, this is the time to transplant them into your garden if you want to save them for another year. Mulching the plants with a few inches of shredded leaves or straw will improve their chances of winter survival. In the spring you’ll see new growth sprouting at the base of the plant. At that time, you can remove the old foliage. By next fall, your chrysanthemums will be blooming all over again.
Get more tips to get your garden ready for winter.