4 Out Of 5 Mums Came Back

I tried a mum experiment last fall.  It was my justification for doing what I wanted to do anyway – buy mums!  My quandary with buying mums in the autumn is that they don’t often come back for me.  If I can find some this spring, I’ll plant them now.  It will be cheaper. I will talk to them.  I will water them.  I will make them feel at home.  I will encourage them to bloom beautifully this autumn and come back next spring.

The question still remains:  What did I do last year that 4 out of 5 came back?  I think it was the watering.  Watering is just not something I think of in the fall.  I do it other times of the year for new plants, so it makes sense that I should be doing it for mums as well.  

Here is what Wally from Pesches suggested, and what he subsequently wrote in an article on mums.  I’m even reporting my actual results.  (See how that sounds like an experiment; justification for buying plants.)

Site Selection
I chose a mostly sunny site that drained well.  Wally suggested amending the beds if there was clay soil.  I didn’t need to.

Wally’s planting is a little more laborious than my usual ‘plop it in’ philosophy.  I dug the hole, diligently followed his instructions to fill and drain the hole, planted the mum, and then watered.  I even followed his suggestion to use Dr. Earth’s Starter Fertilizer on some of them.  I had a control group with fertilizer and a group without.  (There I am again making it sound like an experiment.)  I purposely planted some as they were blooming and some after they bloomed.  I wasn’t so diligent about following his instructions to mulch.  Basically, I didn’t.

Watering my mums is what I really think made the difference.  Wally says mum plants drying out in late fall is the largest reason fall planted mums don’t return. We had a dry autumn, so I watered mine regularly.

I did deadhead them as Wally suggested, admittedly only because I was out there watering.  I didn’t bother to mulch when the ground froze, or check for heaving.  Come on, it was cold out there.

I will add Dr. Earth Bud and Bloom Fertilizer to some of them (ah, the experiment justification again) to see if it makes a difference.  As always, I will also encourage branching and development of compact bushy plants by pinching back my mums till the 4th of July.  I’ll even ask you to mark your calendars to pinch your mums, and remind you in an article later.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!
Check back in the autumn. I’ll let you know how the mums are doing, and if it made a difference fertilizing some of them.  You have to come back.  Reporting my results to you makes this a legitimate experiment.  That’s what justifies my planting more next autumn.  Pretty devious, don’t you think?

4 comments to 4 Out Of 5 Mums Came Back

  • […] OhWhatAWednesday – The Mum Experiment By Carol Cichorski, on November 3rd, 2010 Interested in seeing the results of this experiment?  See 4 Out of 5 Mums Came Back.  […]

  • Gail

    Thanks for the info. I couldn’t understand why my mum’s never come back in the spring, but now I reallize that I should really plant them in the spring and give them a good long time to root before our long winter gets here. thanks again. Gail

  • becky

    I planted mums 4 years ago in the fall on the perimeter of of a flower bed. They came back every year and grew HUGE!! THey were absoloutely beautiful! But now this year nothing! Whats wrong with my mums> Are they laying dormant for a year? Should I dig them up and plant new ones or just wait it out till next year and see if they come back? Help!

    • Carol Cichorski

      I’ve never seen mums go dormanat, though I have seen them die. I always consider myself lucky when they come back, as they don’t tend to be reliable.

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