"You also may want to try them in a landscape bed combined with the
low-growing Wave series of petunias or French varieties of dwarf
marigolds," the horticulturist says.
Mums provide color from September through early November most years.
When purchasing garden mums, select top-quality plants, and select
varieties that will bloom early, in the middle and late in the
season, Owings advises.
Color choices are abundant. Yellow, pink, white, bronze, lavender,
purple and others are available. Two-toned bicolor flowers also have
been recently introduced. The Prophet series of garden mums from
Yoder is the most popular. Varieties include Jessica, Marilyn,
Kimberly, Stacy, Tracy, Linda, Lisa, Lynn, Marilyn, Nicole, Cheryl,
Allison and other feminine names.
Owings says garden mums perform well in full to partial sun. Six
hours of direct sun is ideal. Be sure to prepare a landscape bed
properly by improving aeration and internal drainage by adding pine
bark or some other form of organic matter.
Select a site protected from northern and windy exposures. Provide
about 2 feet between plants. Close spacing results in leggy, upright
growth. After planting, apply about 3 pounds of a slow-release
fertilizer, such as Osmocote 14-14-14 or StaGreen 12-6-6, per 100
square feet of bed area. Broadcast the fertilizer uniformly over the
entire bed area and lightly water in. Mulch with a 1-inch layer of
pine bark, shredded pine straw or a similar material.
Since fall typically is a dry period in Louisiana, be aware that lack
of water on garden mums delays flowering, slows or stops growth, and
increases susceptibility to pest pressures. Proper moisture leads to
a very successful garden mum crop.
"It is also imperative to avoid overhead irrigation," Owings says,
explaining, "It is best to water only the bed area or around the
dripline of each plant." Do not soak garden mums at the base of each
plant. This will result in stem rot problems.
To make garden mums perennials, keep soil moist (not wet) through the
winter, prune lightly several times between March and June next year,
continue mulching efforts, maintain good insect and disease
management strategies and lightly fertilize next spring with a
slow-release fertilizer. The plants will bloom according to natural
daylength conditions next year.
For related topics, click on the Lawn and Garden link at the LSU
AgCenter Web site,
www.lsuagcenter.com. Additional yard and garden topics are
available from an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.