Mums, also known as chrysanthemums, are a staple in many gardens due to their hardiness and vibrant colors. As an intermediate or advanced gardener, you may be looking for ways to take your mum gardening to the next level. In this guide, we’ll cover some advanced techniques for growing mums, including how to propagate, train and prune them for optimal growth and blooming.
Propagation: One of the most rewarding ways to grow mums is by propagating them from cuttings. This is a simple process that involves taking a stem cutting from a mature plant, rooting it in water or soil, and then planting it in a new location. To propagate mums, take a stem cutting that is about 6 inches long and has at least one set of leaves. Remove the bottom leaves and dip the cutting in rooting hormone powder. Place the cutting in a container filled with well-drained soil or rooting medium. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, and place the container in a bright, warm location. In about 4-6 weeks, roots will begin to form and new growth will appear. Once the cutting has rooted, you can transplant it to a new location.
Training and Pruning: Another way to take your mum gardening to the next level is by training and pruning the plants for optimal growth and blooming. Mums are naturally bushy, but by training them to grow in a certain shape, you can achieve a more attractive appearance. One popular method for training mums is the “pinched” method. This involves pinching back the tips of the stems when the plants are about 4-6 inches tall. This will encourage bushier growth and more blooms. Additionally, it is important to prune your mums regularly to promote bushier growth and more flowers. This can be done by cutting back the stems by about one-third in the spring and again in mid-summer.
Pinching and Disbudding: Another advanced technique for growing mums is pinch and disbudding. Pinching is the process of removing the growing tips of the stems of the mums to encourage bushier growth and more blooms. This should be done when the plants are about 4-6 inches tall. Disbudding is the process of removing the buds or blooms that are not needed. This will direct the plant’s energy to the remaining buds, resulting in larger and more vibrant blooms.
Mulching: Mums are very sensitive to temperature changes, therefore, it is important to protect their roots from the heat and cold. Mulching is a great way to do this. Mulch is a layer of organic or inorganic material that is placed on top of the soil around the mums. It helps to retain moisture, control weeds and maintain a consistent temperature around the roots of the mums.
Another important aspect of growing mums is soil preparation. Mums prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. If your soil is heavy clay or sandy, it may be necessary to amend it before planting. You can do this by adding compost, peat moss or well-rotted manure. Additionally, mums benefit from having a slightly acidic soil pH between 6.0 and 6.5. You can test your soil pH with a soil test kit, which can be found at most garden centers. If the pH is too high or too low, you can adjust it by adding lime or sulfur.
Mums are also heavy feeders, so it is important to fertilize them regularly. They will benefit from a balanced fertilizer, applied every 4-6 weeks. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that mums require consistent moisture, so make sure to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. A good rule of thumb is to water your mums once a week, and more frequently during hot, dry spells.
Another advanced technique for growing mums is to grow them in a greenhouse. This is a great way to extend the growing season and produce blooms that are larger and more vibrant than those grown outdoors. In a greenhouse, you can control the temperature, humidity, and light levels, which will allow you to grow mums year-round. Additionally, you can also use a greenhouse to start mums from seed, which will give you a larger variety of colors and shapes to choose from.
Finally, it’s important to remember that mums are perennials, which means they will come back year after year. However, if you live in a cold climate, it’s important to protect the roots of the plants with a thick layer of mulch. This will help to insulate the roots from the cold and prevent them from freezing. Additionally, you can also bring your mums inside for the winter and enjoy them as houseplants. To do this, simply cut the plants back to about 6 inches and place them in a sunny window. They’ll continue to grow and bloom indoors.
In conclusion, mums are a great choice for intermediate and advanced gardeners. With proper soil preparation, fertilization, and watering, you can achieve optimal growth and blooming. Additionally, by propagating, training and pruning, pinch and disbudding, mulching, and growing them in a greenhouse, you can take your mum gardening to the next level. Remember to be patient and consistent in your efforts, and you will be rewarded with a stunning display of mums. Happy gardening!