Mums – A Gardener’s Guide

Mums – Introducing the Species

Mums, the short name for chrysanthemums, are one of the most popular flowers in the entire world. They come in a wide range of colors and are greatly prized for their elegance and beauty. Whether used in bouquets, worn in the hair or planted in the garden, it is hard not to love and enjoy the various varieties of mums found across the globe.

Mums are among the easiest of all of perennials to grow. They should usually be planted in early spring after all danger of freezing has passed, however they can be planted at almost any time so long as they have sufficient time to establish their root system before the hottest weather arrives.

Mums have had a great amount of historical significance in Asia. Records indicate that the species has been cultivated in China as far back as 1500 BC, making them one of the earliest popular garden and ornamental flowers. The flower was introduced into Japan probably in the AD 800s. Mums were so popular there that the Emperor of Japan adopted them as his personal imperial seal.

Mums – Modern Uses

There are a variety of different popular uses for mums as a species that are not solely limited to gardening. Yellow or white chrysanthemum flowers are boiled to make a sweet drink in some parts of Asia. The resulting beverage is known commonly as “chrysanthemum tea.” This tea has several medicinal uses, including as an aid in recovery from influenza.

Mums are a very popular ornamental flower, often being featured at garden shows around the world. The modern varieties are showier than the originals, which were largely golden in color. Today’s varieties come in a very large assortment of shapes and colors, all of which have been developed for show.

Growing Mums in the Garden

Mums can be started as seeds, cuttings, or divisions. They can be purchased at a nursery as bedding plants for the garden, although you can find many larger varieties as well. They should be planted into well prepared, fertile, sandy soil if possible. Make sure that the hole is dug deeply for the best results. It is not recommended to grow mums in the same location for more than three years in a row so that you can prevent diseases or other unfortunate conditions.

The plants should be spaced 18-30 inches apart for the best results. Be sure to feed lightly every two weeks or so with a well-balanced all-purpose fertilizer. When using any fertilizer, be sure to pay attention to special instructions listed on the container or packaging in order to prevent accidental overdoses.

Once the plants have reached about six inches in height, it is a good idea to cut about three quarters of an inch away from each branch. This will promote a larger number of blooms and an overall bushier appearance, which is usually valued for show. Repeat the process once they have reached a foot. On the largest varieties of mums, you should remove any buds except for the one on the top.

The seeds of mums should be planted into prepared soil where you intend them to grow at least two months prior to the first frost. Seeds may also be started indoors in very early spring for later transplanting if the weather is not agreeable. Keep the temperature between 70-75 degrees for best results. Germination usually takes between eight and twenty five days.

Mums as Gifts

This species makes for an excellent gift plant, with the blooms lending themselves well to many bouquets and other assorted floral arrangements. They are popular to feature at weddings, often in the bride’s bouquet or as table centerpieces for the reception ceremony. It is best to select lighter colors such as white, pink and red and to match with other flowers and decorations to prevent clashing.

If you are looking to buy arrangements to send as gifts, visit your local florist. Their shop will always stock this variety of plant due to its popularity, and you can often find several different colors from which to choose. You can arrange for delivery if you are sending to someone far away, making it a convenient option to consider for birthdays and other occasions.

Also consider mums as decorations for the interior of your house. Filling a vase with freshly-cut flowers can create a great centerpiece for a living room or dining room table. Matching vases for end tables work well in unison with a centerpiece. This is a great idea if guests are coming by for dinner in the spring or summer, as it lends a natural beauty and elegance to the room you’ve placed them in.

If you are interested in learning more about various species of chrysanthemums, including more about their historical and cultural significance in China, there are many online databases filled with useful data. Your florist is also a great source of information, making them a good person to consult.

Copyright (c) 2008 Brant Florist

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