OhWhatAWednesday – The Mum Experiment

Interested in seeing the results of this experiment?  See 4 Out of 5 Mums Came Back

I posted an article a few weeks ago on mums. Basically
• I like them,
• Many of the ones I plant in the autumn don’t come back,
• and I would like them to.

You can see here that I do have some mums that come back, which is why I can talk about them in ‘OhWhatAWednesday’, my series on what looks good in my yard right now. But I want more!

Since I wrote that article, I have learned a lot from Wally at Pesches Garden Center in Des Plaines. I’ve known Wally for years, and he is quite the gardening expert.

So what am I going to do with this information? A mum experiment!

I have planted my new mums a variety of ways. Some went in early. Others went in yesterday after they bloomed in a pot. Some received Dr. Earth Starter fertilizer. Some did not. And I wrote down what I did to each plant.

My Outlook tasks include the spring items Wally mentioned, and a reminder to post an article May 1st with the results.

Some tips from Wally:

Site Selection
Make sure your beds drain well. Amend your beds with Back to Nature’s Flower Bed Conditioner, which will loosen clay soil, improve drainage and add fertility. Full sun is preferred, but they will tolerate a minimum of 4 hours of direct sun.

Planting
We need the plant to root. Dig the planting hole slightly larger and deeper than the root ball. Fill the planting hole with water, and then let it drain down to hydrate the surrounding area. Next, loosen the roots up. Use Dr. Earth’s Starter Fertilizer per the instructions on the bag. After planting, water well again to remove any air pockets.

After the second hard frost, mulch around the plant with 1 to 2 inches of mulch and compact the mulch in place. DO NOT place the mulch directly on the stem of the plant, this can cause crown rot.

Watering
Mum plants drying out in late fall is the largest reason fall planted mums don’t return. Mums need at least 1 inch of water a week. Warm weather requires daily watering. We’ve had a beautiful and dry fall. So I’ve been watering mine.

Maintenance
After the mums are done flowering, deadhead. When new growth appears in the spring, the dead branches can be cut off.

When the ground begins to freeze, check for heaving above ground, and put them back in. Add more mulch if necessary. Evergreen branches from Christmas trees make excellent winter mulch. Wait until the first snow cover, and then lay a double layer of branches over your planting beds.

In the spring, add some Dr. Earth Bud and Bloom Fertilizer to the soil around the returning mums and gently work it into the soil, water well. To encourage branching and development of compact bushy plants, it’s VERY IMPORTANT to pinch back your garden mums till the 4th of July.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!
If you want to try Wally’s suggestions, Id suggest marking your calendar with the tasks he suggests – I did. Also mark your calendar for May 1st so you can stop back in at www.ohwhata.com to see how my plants did.

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