Ruth Correll: Chrysanthemums are fall beauties

Ruth Correll • Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 6:00 PM

Garden mums or chrysanthemums…it does not matter what you call them, but these plants give us a burst of color in the fall as they replace spring and summer annuals. There are thousands of varieties. Some were developed specially for use as cut flowers, while others were developed to serve as hardy landscape plants and houseplants. Colors range though most shades of yellow, orange, pink, purple, red and white. Some varieties are bicolored.

Garden mums are hardy perennials, although many people treat them as short-season, fall-planted annuals. Chrysanthemums grown as perennials will spread rapidly. They should be divided every year or two.

When planting mums, the proper site is extremely important. Chrysanthemums prefer fertile, highly organic, well-drained soil in full sun. Mature plants set in a shady area will give nice color the first year but do poorly the following year. They should be planted 18 to 36 inches apart depending on the mature size of the plant. Mums are heavy feeders and should be fertilized monthly with 5-10-5, 5-10-10, or 5-20-20. After flower buds develop, fertilization should be stopped. 

The right amount of water is vital to success with chrysanthemums. Too little water will slow their growth or stop it completely. Mums especially need plenty of water when they bloom. Mulch will help retain soil moisture, control weeds and improve appearance.

Chrysanthemums can be planted in the fall or in early spring. Spring planted mums will give a more hardy, full plant for the fall landscape. Pinch the tip growth of spring-planted mums regularly to cause them to branch and bloom well. Remove the top ½ to 1 inch of new growth about every four weeks from the time the plant is 6 inches tall until mid July or early August. Chrysanthemums are short day plants, which means they need lengthening nights to trigger blooms. 

Disease problems can include powdery mildew, Botrytis blight, aster yellows, leaf spots, viruses and foliar nematodes. Insects that commonly infest chrysanthemums are aphids, thrips and spider mites.

When the tops die in late fall cut off the dead stems at the ground line and remove them from the garden. Apply 3-4 inches of mulch – straw, fluffy leaves, evergreen boughs – to help preserve soil moisture and insulate. Frost heaving in poorly drained soil is the primary cause of winter death.

Whether you grow them in your yard, purchase them for a friend or enjoy them in a Thanksgiving bouquet, the chrysanthemum will brighten your day. 

Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program applications will be accepted online and by mail Oct. 1-16. TAEP is a Tennessee Department of Agriculture cost-sharing program. The goal is to increase profitability and efficiency while promoting long-term investments in Tennessee’s agriculture and forestry industries. Changes and additions include new livestock and feed storage equipment items were added, including portable feed bins, hay unrollers and fly sprayers, producers in the genetics program may now use multiple purchases in order to receive the program maximum. For additional information pick up an application at our office or go online to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture website at tn.gov/agriculture/topic/ag-farms-enhancement.

The Wilson County Livestock Association Field Day will be Sept. 23 at the James E. Ward Agricultural Center. Come and enjoy a great meal while visiting with your neighbors and friends. A trade show is planned. There will be special entertainment.  The event begins at 5 p.m. at the community stage. Tickets are available at the Wilson Farmers Co-op, UT Extension Office and Livestock Association Board members. Tickets are $10. All funds will go to support the annual Wilson County Livestock Association Scholarship Program and the 4-H Youth Livestock program.

For more information, contact the UT-TSU Extension Office in Wilson County at 615-444-9584. You can also find us on Facebook or visit extension.tennessee.edu/wilson.

Ruth Correll, UT Extension-TSU Cooperative Extension agent for Wilson County, may be reached at 615-444-9584 or [email protected]


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