One of the benefits of having a mother who is a florist and does landscape design, is you get to learn all of the gardening and flower secrets a lot of people don’t know about, like how to grow big Chrysanthemums. I know it seems early to think about fall flowers, but if you want those big, beautiful plants, you actually have to start now, or even a few weeks ago, if you have a time machine.
I have to admit though,I love how they add amazing fall color to my front when everything else is done blooming, but I will add a personal disclaimer. I HATE how they smell. Blech! Some people don’t mind it. Not me, but, I am willing to trade the color an texture for holding my nose every time I walk by them. I also mistakenly call them Geraniums from time to time and do not know why. I have to constantly correct myself, even though they look nothing a like. Maybe it’s because I hate the way those smell too.
For years, I would buy fall mums in September,October for about $3.00 each, enjoy them for a month, let them die, and then throw them out. I didn’t even know that you could plant them here in Chicago and they probably would come back. Now I say probably, because sometimes they don’t, still not a bad investment for 3 bucks if they do. The trick is to putting them in the ground in September so they have time to form an adequate root system before the bitter cold. And, finding a spot they like. There are certain areas of my yard where they come back year after year, and there are certain places they die every.Single.Time. I save those “dead zones” for the urns and planters.
The idea to grow those big, beautiful bushy plants is pretty simple.
In the Spring, you will see teeny little bracts of leaves for out of the ground on old wood. These are going to be the focus of how to grown big Chrysanthemums.
They are almost hard to see, and seem to grow slow, but once they get going they need a little attention, at about once a week.
Watch them carefully, once they start to form shoots, with what looks like little bids on the end, you are going to start pinching them back when they get between 3 and 6 inches tall.
I’ve even marked for you on this picture where you should pinch the leave back at. About once a week, I do a yard tour around my plants and do my pinching. It’s really mini-pruning to stimulate growth if you prefer to think about it that way.
Then when those form new shoots, pinch those back again-but only until the Fourth of July. After that, let them go and stop pinching!
This is a mum we put in 2 years ago.
Yo can see how it not only came back,but by the mini-pruning, it’s tripled it’s size.
The result is going to be round bushy, Chrysanthemums that give out mounds of beautiful flowers, that will last much longer than any you could buy at the store. I like to plant mine with Coleus. The annuals not only compliment each other, and Coleus can fill in the blank space until the mum gets big enough, but coleus is very transplant-able, that if your mum grows big and crowds it out, even in fall with a little water you can plop it in a new space. That another one that benefits greatly from a lot of pinching. If you see the bright, chartreuse plant behind my mum, that’s a Coleus that was pinched every time the new growth got about a few inches tall.
To keep your mums blooming, once the flowers start dying, dead head those right away. Your blooms won’t be as plentiful, but they will keep going for a little bit longer, so you can enjoy your Mums well before a heavy killing frost and heavy snow.