ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN
Red and yellow are two popular chrysanthemum colours.
During the autumn, retail shops and garden centres are filled with potted chrysanthemums. First appearing in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and even well after Thanksgiving and nearing Halloween, potted mums continue to be available for people to use in their autumn décor.
For long lasting display choose a plant with lots of buds and few mature flowers. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
An orange chrysanthemum literally shouts, “Autumn!” (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
Incorporate chrysanthemums into autumn displays on porches and verandas. (ALBERT PARSONS/FOR THE SUN)
Chrysanthemums are quite tolerant of cool temperatures, but will be damaged by all but the lightest frost, so the pots will have to be moved indoors overnight when frost is forecast. Until after Thanksgiving, this is usually not too onerous a task.
Between Thanksgiving and leading up to Halloween, overnight frosts are more common, but the pots are light and easy to move indoors for the night. There might be days in late October when the temperatures are too cold for the pots to be put outside, but they can be enjoyed indoors or inside a covered veranda or sunroom.
Many people display their potted mums outdoors until after Thanksgiving, then as the daytime temperatures decline, the plants are moved indoors, where they will contribute a few weeks of colour to the indoor landscape.
If they have been moved indoors at night and then back outdoors during the day for a couple of weeks, the transition to permanently being indoors will be less stressful for the plants.
When choosing a potted mum to buy, ensure that it has lots of buds and few fully open flowers. This will guarantee that the plant will put on an attractive floral display for as long as possible, both outside and indoors.
Most of the colours of potted mum blooms are fall-like colours, including bright yellow, deep maroon, shimmering copper, and vibrant orange. You will also find potted mums with pure white blooms as well as stunningly bright red flowers; when in full bloom a potted mum will take centre stage in your autumn displays.
To ensure that a potted mum looks its best for as long as possible, proper care is advised — they are live plants that require regular maintenance.
Mums like bright light so the best location indoors would be close to a sunny window. It is best to protect mums from the full rays of the strongest afternoon sun, however, as full direct sun will cause the blooms to go past more quickly.
Water your potted mum regularly. The soil in the pot will be full of roots, which will suck up moisture from the soil in no time at all.
Do not allow the planting medium to dry out because once it does dry out, it will not absorb water well — the water that you pour into the pot will simply run down the inside of the pot and out the drainage holes without wetting the soil.
If you think the root ball has dried out, place the pot in a tub of water for a few hours — you might have to weigh the pot down as it might float. After several hours have passed, take the pot out of the tub of water and let the pot drain well before it is placed back into its jardinière. And do place the pot in an attractive jardinière — perhaps one with an autumn motif — as this will greatly improve the appearance of the plant.
You do not need to fertilize the plant; there will be enough of the fertilizer applied in the greenhouse to carry it through until it is finished blooming. Cut off spent blooms and discoloured leaves with a pair of sharp shearers or scissors to keep the plant attractive.
Be on the lookout for insects, particularly after the plant is brought indoors;
Spider mites and aphids will attack chrysanthemums, especially in a warm dry environment. Give the plant a quick shower once a week, being careful not to damage the blooms, to reduce the likelihood of an insect attack.
Enjoy your potted chrysanthemum as long as it continues to have attractive blooms and then compost it.
Your potted mum will have supplied you with brilliant fall colour for several weeks, and by the time it wanes you will be ready to create some winter — and dare I say, Christmas — displays. Autumn will be just a memory.
Albert Parsons is a consultant for garden design and landscaping who lives in Minnedosa.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 3, 2013