How to grow mums from seed

Propagating Mums: Growing Mums From Cuttings And Seeds

Chrysanthemums are one of the heralds of fall although they are also produced for spring blooming. The flowers come in all the hues of the harvest and echo the changing leaf colors. Mums, as they are commonly called, are easy to grow and can be propagated by a variety of methods. Propagating mums can be from seed, started from division or even from cuttings. With so many ways to propagate it is easy to learn how to start mums.

Easy Mum Propagation Through Division

Propagating mums is fast and easy when done through division. Mums benefit from division every three to four years to enhance the form and flowering of the plant. This is done in spring and yields a spare plant or two. The centers of mums can begin to get leggy and may even die out when they get older.

In spring when the mum begins to show signs of sprouting, dig out the entire root ball of the plant. Use a sharp soil knife or spade and use it to cut the root ball into three to five sections. Each one of these sections can be planted to make a new chrysanthemum.

Planting Mum Seeds

You never know what you will get when you plant mum seeds. They will bloom the first year after planting but may not be true to the parent plant. Growing from mum seeds is easy and can prove quite an adventure due to the uncertainty of the type of bloom.

Because of the long growing season required for mum seeds, it is best to start them indoors six to eight weeks before the date of the last frost or sow the seed in spring in a well prepared bed. Cover them lightly with mulch and keep the bed evenly moist. Transplant the mums when they are 6 to 8 inches high.

Growing Mums from Cuttings

Cuttings are how to start mums for quick blooming plants. Cuttings produce the fastest mum plants, which will bloom within months. Spring or summer is the best time to take cuttings for mum propagation.

Use a sharp sterile knife to remove a 2- to 3-inch section of new growth at the end of a stem. Pull off the leaves on the bottom 1 inch of the cutting and insert it into peat moss or perlite. The cutting must always be moist but not soggy. It will root within a couple of weeks and then you should pinch off the top growth to encourage the new plant to form lateral growth.

Propagating mums is a task that you can enjoy as a home gardener. The variety of means for reproduction means you just have to decide how to start mums. Chrysanthemums make excellent potted plants for special occasion gifts or as perennials in the garden bed. You can bring them indoors or out for early spring or late fall color.

By Delilah Onofrey|September 11, 2009

Believe it or not, mums are the big story in this year’s report, as a common denominator among the top three cuttings producers in the world.

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We started our Top 10 Cuttings Producers survey and report four years ago to learn more about companies supplying vegetative propagation material globally. For many of these producers, Europe is the primary market and North America is a secondary but growing market, especially in vegetative annuals and blooming potted plants.

One crop I didn’t appreciate enough when we began this survey was chrysanthemums, which are propagated for blooming potted plants, garden plants and mostly fresh cut flowers worldwide. There is trade protection prohibiting chrysanthemum cuttings from coming into the United States from outside sources to prevent diseases like chrysanthemum white rust from becoming established. As a result, Yoder Brothers always had the dominant position here and any competing lines were propagated in the United States, like at GroLink in California.

Yoder has since sold its mum lines to Syngenta Flowers, which increased its cuttings production by more than 100 million cuttings this year. Fides and Yoder used to collaborate globally on mum lines and production, but now Fides is focused on its own genetics. While Fides is known in the United States for flowering potted plants and annuals, 65 percent of its cutting production is for cut flower farms. Fides, which ranks at No. 1 producing 800-850 million cuttings at farms in five countries, is owned by Kirin Holding Company in Japan but based in De Lier in The Netherlands.

We also just learned about Beekenkamp, a large family-owned breeder, producer and
broker based in Westland, The Netherlands. It acquired Florema, a breeder and young plant producer last year, and also owns Deliflor, a very large chrysanthemum producer that opened a new facility in Holland in June. Of the 635 million cuttings Beekenkamp produces in five countries, 550 million are chrysanthemums and 85 million are bedding and potted plant varieties.
Beekenkamp has a joint venture with Holtkamp Greenhouses in Tennessee selling unrooted cuttings to North American growers. (See page 34.)

While there are only a few companies specializing in chrysanthemums, globally they remain a very important crop, which is why these lines were of interest to Syngenta. Vegetative annuals continue to be the most important category for Syngenta Flowers, encompassing geraniums and New Guinea impatiens from Fischer and a wide range of annuals from Goldsmith and the former S&G Flowers. The poinsettia piece came from Fischer.

Top 10 Cuttings Producers
Rank Company Quantity Produced* Greenhouse
Square Footage
HQ Countries
1. Fides B.V. 800-850 million 7,535,880 Holland five
2. Beekenkamp 635 million 8,611,128 Holland six
3. Syngenta Flowers 550-600 million n/a Switzerland seven
4. Selecta Klemm 230-250 million 3,659,730 Germany three
5. Dummen 200-220 million 6,048,196 Germany three
6. Oro Farms 200 million* 6,100,000 (shade and field) Guatemala one
7. Ball FloraPlant 190-200 million 4,700,000 United States four
8. ForemostCo 190-200 million 653,400 plus 150 shade acres United States nine
9. Cohen Nurseries 155 million* 1,151,247 Israel one
10. McGregor Plant Sales/Florexpo 120-135 million 4,305,564 Costa Rica one

* = estimate

Strategic Maneuvers

After Syngenta purchased Goldsmith and the Yoder mum and aster lines, the next big headline in the cuttings world was Selecta Klemm aligning itself with Ball Horticultural Co. for distribution in North America. While all unrooted cuttings will be sold through Ball, Selecta’s root-and-sells will still be able to sell liners through any broker they choose. There will be open distribution at the rooted level.

This is the first year we’ve had Ball FloraPlant in the rankings and report. The vegetative breeding/producing division of Ball Horticultural Co. will produce between 190-200 million cuttings at its farms in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico and Portugal this year. Expansion is likely in Guatemala next year. Seventy percent of the cuttings are shipped to growers in the United States. The strongest gains are coming from unique varieties in new and core crops, while certain commoditized products are declining.

Ball FloraPlant’s biggest challenge has been dealing with volatility in offshore costs while still providing grower customers a reliable, economical source of supply. “This has renewed our standing commitment to continuous improvement in production efficiency,” says Ball FloraPlant’s General Manager Allan Davidson. “We also have invested in post-harvest processes and technologies from picking and packing of orders through farm to grower cold chain management.”

On the expansion side, Dümmen’s new 23-acre greenhouse facility in El Salvador is planted and ready for the spring season. A second, 18-acre facility is in the works. Why El Salvador? “We researched the location in detail to find the ideal growing climate for the highest quality cuttings: high light, low humidity and good temperatures,” says Iris Schulz-Dümmen, who is general manager of the operation with her husband, Simon Schulz. Both managed Dummen’s former Canary Islands operation. “Also, proximity to two major airports allows flexibility in efficiently shipping to U.S. and Canadian customers and for receiving our proprietary cultures from Europe.”

Most cuttings are produced in Africa to serve Europe and in Latin America to serve North America. These countries include Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. Asia has emerged on the tropicals side, especially in orchids. ForemostCo works with farms in Taiwan, Malaysia and China. Beekenkamp plans to expand production in Uganda next year to support gains in Europe and Asia.

Selecta streamlined its production centers from seven farms to three in Tenerife, Kenya and Uganda, with plans to expand production in Kenya and Uganda. “By having reorganized our unrooted cutting production structure from seven to three centers and having centers of competence in our main crops, we are sure to have made the right steps in taking a top position,” says Per Klemm, who owns the business with his brothers, Nils and Christian. “We see strong gains in flowering potted plants, as well as in annuals for our sales.”

Delilah Onofrey directs Flower Power Marketing for the Suntory Collection. She can be reached at See all author stories here.

Exhibition Mums in Full Flower : Order Cuttings Now for Special Garden of Color Next Year

Most of us don’t think of chrysanthemums as perennials, but that is exactly what they are, and one of the first we Californians grew. We know them as potted gift plants and as cut flowers from the florist, but not as tough, easy-to-grow garden plants.

October and November are their season and a good time to become reacquainted. One of the best places to do so is Sunnyslope Gardens, Southern California’s center for chrysanthemums for 55 years.

Philip Ishizu worries that what he grows is too seasonal, but what a season it is. From this weekend until Thanksgiving, the nursery is a riot of color as one kind of chrysanthemum after another flowers.

There are pots of bushy chrysanthemums that can be popped in the ground in full flower.

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There are spectacular cascading chrysanthemums that spill several feet out of their containers like waterfalls of flowers, which should brighten any balcony.

And, there are the rows of exhibition mums that aren’t for sale just now, but can be ordered and grown to produce the flashiest of cut flowers.

The potted mums at Sunnyslope and at other nurseries right now are the best garden plants and with very little effort they can become permanent parts of the flower bed. Unlike the potted mums found at other times of the year, these are flowering when they should. At other times, they have been “forced”–brought into bloom early.

Forced mums received as gifts or bought at florists can also be turned into garden plants. Ishizu told us the secret: After they finish flowering, cut off the flowers and some of the stem, but leave some green leaves until sprouts appear around the base. Then cut the old flowering stems off completely.

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These sprouts are the proof that mums are really perennials. They are the replacements, growing from creeping underground rhizomes–next year’s plants.

In early spring, they can be dug up, divided and planted, and each will make a new chrysanthemum. Or, they can be left to grow where they are and will make a big clump.

The plants you buy at this time of the year follow the same cycle–after they finish flowering, cut them back; in the spring divide them, or just let them regrow, though in time they must be divided or they will make poor plants.

Most of the chrysanthemums you buy in pots will grow to three or four feet high–and will probably need staking–if you don’t pinch the growing tips several times during spring and summer to make them bushier. “Pinching” means cutting off the very tip of the stem, with shears or your thumb and forefinger. The gardener in a hurry can get around pinching by simply cutting the plant back to within six or eight inches of the ground in July, from which it will regrow and branch.

One garden-type mum worth noting at Sunnyslope is the English variety “Morning Star,” which is unusual in that it requires no pinching to become a perfectly round bush under two feet tall.

If there is a problem with mums in the garden, it is that they occupy space for much of the year, but flower only in fall. The flip side of this is that little else flowers so profusely in October and November.

One solution is to dig them up after they flower and replant them somewhere out of the way until spring, when they can be divided and planted back in the flower bed. This lets you grow something else in their place all winter and spring–bulbs for instance.

Ishizu cautions that the plants shouldn’t be overwatered in winter when they are nearly dormant, but during the rest of the year, they are tough plants and can take a lot of mistreatment.

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“They are weeds,” he says, “like all composites, and very easy to grow. Put them in the ground and jump back!”

Growing the cascading types is not so easy, but the Sunnyslope catalogue shows how. In full flower, as they are right now, they are an incredible bargain at $25. In fact, those about to go over the hill but good for another week or so are only half that.

The exhibition types are what chrysanthemum fanciers grow to show in competition, but they are also gorgeous cut flowers. There is an almost infinite variety to choose from–more than a dozen official categories–including some with petals rolled up into narrow cylinders, called spiders. If you ask Ishizu for his personal favorite, he is reluctant to commit, but finally says it would be one of the spiders or the reflexes, mums with petals that curve gracefully back from the center.

To grow these exotic mums, you must first order the cuttings. As you come in the nursery, order forms and pencils are handy and the rows of flowers have a tag on each with a name or a number. The tag says: “This is a SAMPLE PLANT of rooted cuttings sold between April and July.” The rooted cuttings are sent out in spring and cost between 75 cents and a couple of dollars, depending on how new they are.

These exhibition mums are not great garden subjects and should be grown off by themselves, because they grow quite tall and need staking. They could be the beginning of a special cutting garden, an old idea that needs reviving. These mums should also be fertilized once a month while they are growing, and then disbudded, but that is explained in the catalogue.

Cuttings can also be ordered through the mail from their catalogue. The nursery’s address is 8638 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel, Calif. 91775; telephone (818) 287-4071. Sunnyslope is not far from the Los Angeles State and County Arboretum, where the Los Angeles Garden Show is going on.

Garden Show News: The Los Angeles Garden Show at the County Arboretum, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., in Arcadia, ends Sunday. Its theme is “The English Influence” and, true to name, there are some very pretty displays that do indeed look like English gardens. Everyone’s favorite seems to be the border of perennials put in by Sassafras Nursery, simply because it is so tastefully colorful.

Monrovia Nursery made a handsome little knot garden using the golden foliage of Ligustrum vicaryi and the red foliage of Berberis “Crimson Pygmy,” two handsome dwarf shrubs, which, unfortunately are deciduous.

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Hines Nursery made a little cottage garden right next door, so between these two big wholesale nurseries and Sassafras, the gamut of English garden history is covered.

Cornell & Wiskar Landscaping worked with Magic Growers to make an English garden that looks right at home in California and in it I spotted two perennials that haven’t been all that easy to find–a white, fall-blooming aster and a white cone flower, but because Magic Growers is one of the larger wholesale growers, they should now be available. Be sure to see the delightful collection of topiary animals having a tea party in the exhibition hall, by O’Farrior Topiary.

Briggs Garden & Home

Mums provide glorious color for the seasonal garden throughout autumn. Garden mums, originally from the Orient, are now grown all over the world for their wonderful display of colorful blooms. They are available in a wide range of colors with many variations of each hue. If the colors aren’t enough to choose from, these flowers come in many different shapes and sizes. By planting mums with early, mid and late-season bloom times, you can have an outstanding array of colors and textures from the end of August into November.

Are Mums Hardy? Annual or Perennial? Will they come back next year?
Mums are considered tender perennials. Whether they come back the next year depends on when and where they are planted:

Spring or summer – If planted in spring or summer, mums will have ample time to establish a good root system. If the soil is not too wet during the winter, they will overwinter just as other perennials. Mums will do best in raised beds or sandy soil.

September – If they are planted in September and the weather in September and October is warm, they can possibly overwinter as other perennials.

October – Mums planted this late in the fall season may not have time for their root systems to become established enough to survive the winter. If this is the case, enjoy your mums as annuals.

Planting
When planting mums, choose a sunny location with adequate drainage. Remove the plant from its pot and gently score the root balls to free the roots. Place them carefully in the ground, making sure not to plant them any deeper than they were in their original pot. Mums have surface roots and will suffocate if planted too deeply. Water with a transplant fertilizer such as Miracle Gro Quick Start or Bonide Root and Grow to stimulate root growth.

Watering
An area like New England will have sufficient rainfall most of the time to keep garden mums growing well. During dry spells, water them as needed to keep the plants from wilting; on average about one inch per week. Always thoroughly water in any freshly-planted garden mums.

Overwintering
Keep your garden mums’ soil moist as winter approaches. As the blooms fade, deadhead them to avoid having any stray seedlings come up. It’s best, however, to leave all the foliage in place until spring. Mulch the plants after several hard frosts with salt marsh hay or evergreen branches. In the spring, remove any old stems and gradually remove the mulch as your plants come to life again.

Don’t try to move them at this point, even if you don’t want them to stay where they are through the next growing season. Repeated freezing and thawing of the soil can heave plants out of the ground, exposing roots to the elements. Newly transplanted mums are especially vulnerable to heaving.

Spring Care
When growth resumes in the spring, carefully clear away the mulch and remove any dead foliage. This is the time to move them to a summer home if necessary. Replant the clumps in good quality soil which drains well; this is essential for healthy mums. Fertilize again with a transplant fertilizer.

Fertilizing
Mums, being surface feeders, appreciate fertilizer applied as a top dressing. Around the end of May, scratch a granular fertilizer for flowering plants (such as GardenTone) into the soil around each plant. Apply granular plant food every four or five weeks until August or supplement with water-soluble fertilizer throughout late spring and early summer to encourage branching and bud formation.

Pinching/Pruning
To encourage branching and development of compact bushy plants, it is very important to pinch back young garden mums in the spring as soon as the new growth is 4-6 inches tall. Try to avoid damaging the little side shoots developing where the leaves meet the stem. On young, tender plants you would typically pinch with your fingernails. Narrow-bladed scissors or pruning shears can be used also.

Mums are stimulated to bloom by the declining day length of summer and early fall and to some extent a late-summer pattern of warm days and cooler nights. Pinching out the growing tips (even if they already have tiny buds) until about mid-July will make the plants bushier and keep them from trying to set blooms too early.

When is the best time to plant garden mums?
Spring! When mums are planted in the spring after the last frost, they have plenty of time to develop a substantial root system that will lead to good blooms and healthy plants in future years.

Where can I get garden mums?
In recent years, garden centers and the large home stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.) have begun to offer mum plants in the spring. Local chapters of the National Chrysanthemum Society often have spring plant sales. See our Chapters Page for a list of NCS Chapters.

Do mums have special soil requirements?
Not really. Mums can be very happy in well prepared, slightly acid garden soil. To grow chrysanthemums successfully you should have a pH reading near 6.5. As with most plants, mums appreciate well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, such as compost. Adding some standard garden fertilizer (such as 5-10-5) to the soil for growth and some super phosphate for root development always helps.

How much sun do mums need?
As much as you can give them. Mums will thrive in full sun conditions, given adequate moisture. About three hours of direct sunlight is about the minimum that will produce bushy plants and plenty of flowers.

How much water do mums need?
Early in the season mums should be watered like your lawn, about one inch a week. As the plants increase in size and summer brings warmer temperatures, your watering should increase proportionately. By flowering time in September and October, watering three times a week would not be too much.

How do I keep my mums short and bushy?
In the last several years, hybridizers have been introducing varieties that remain low to the ground and form bushy balls of flowers with little effort on your part. However, a little pruning will produce even better results. Early in the season, when the plants are about 6” tall, pinch off or prune about 1” from the top of each stem. This will cause the plant to vigorously produce side branches. When those new stems are about 6” tall (the whole plant is now almost a foot tall), pinch off or prune about 1” from the top of each stem. Again, this will force new growth from each stem. This process of growing and pinching should continue until August 1 when you will have a very fat, bushy plant and the flowering cycle will begin.

Should I feed my mums?
Yes. If you added granular fertilizer to the soil when you planted your mums in the spring, you might make one or two applications of water soluble fertilizer (such as Miracle Gro) over the summer. If your mums are older than one year, apply water soluble fertilizer once a month throughout the growing season.

Will my mums that I planted in the spring come back next year?
They should. As perennials, mums are genetically programmed to lose their top growth to the frost, go to sleep for the winter, and wake up with the warm temperatures of the spring. However, you can help the process. When the foliage succumbs to frost, cut the plant back to the ground. Apply a thick layer of mulch (chopped leaves, pine needles, etc.) over the plants. When spring arrives and the threat of frost is over, pull back the mulch and watch your mums rapidly grow.

Will the mums I buy in the fall come back next spring?
Maybe. Flowering mums planted in the fall don’t consistently make it through the winter. The plants don’t have the time (or the inclination, since they are working hard on flowering) to extend their roots beyond the pot-bound root ball into the soil. The fragile roots are damaged by frequent cycles of freezing and thawing over the winter. Without a good root system, the plant dies. Some growers have had success by wintering mums in a cool, dry location (garage, porch, etc.) that doesn’t freeze. After cutting off the foliage, keep these plants barely moist throughout the winter (watering lightly once a month). Expose them to warmer temperatures and more water once the threat of frost is past. Plant in the ground after the last frost.

How do I make more mums?
There are two ways to multiply your mums. 1) If your plants have been in the ground for a number of years and have formed a large clump, just get out the shovel in the spring when the mums are just beginning to grow and divide the plant into pieces about a foot wide. Plant each piece in a new hole with some organic matter and fertilizer. 2) Regardless of the age on your mums, they can be propagated through cuttings. When a new stem is about 6” tall, break off or cut the top 4”. Dip the cut end into some rooting hormone (this isn’t absolutely necessary) and plant the cutting into a pot with sterile potting soil or a mix of sand and peat moss. Keep the pot moist (not wet) and warm. There should be bright light, but no direct sun. In about two weeks the cuttings will have formed roots. Before planting the cuttings in the outdoor bed, gradually acclimate them to brighter light.

Can I revitalize my old mums?
You bet! Mums seem to do best when they are growing on roots that are new or not more than a few years old. To put a spark in you mum bed, make new plants through cuttings (see: How do I make more mums?) and plant them in a newly prepared spot with organic matter and fertilizer.

Are “football” mums really mums?
Yes they are. The large incurving or reflexing blooms that you see in florist shops or at National Chrysanthemum Society shows are just hybridized varieties of hardy garden mums that have been bred for size, shape, or color.

Where can I get “football” mums?
“Football” mums (exhibition mums) can be purchased from local chrysanthemum societies or by mail from several suppliers. Kings Mums has an extensive offering of exhibition and garden mums in many colors and shapes.

Can fall mums be planted in the garden?

Brightly colored fall chrysanthemums, or “mums,” are hard to miss as summer winds down and fall approaches. They can be purchased just about any place that sells plants, from garden centers to grocery stores. The popularity of mums is easy to understand, as they add a pop of color to the garden or porch just as most other blooms are starting to fade, and there is surely a color that will appeal to every gardener’s taste. It’s easy to find mums in fall hues of yellow, bronze, purple or burgundy, but they also come in white, pink and red. These plants can either be planted in containers and hanging baskets or stuck into the ground to fill gaps in the garden. Regardless of how they are used, do not expect them to survive the winter. The fall blooming mums that can be purchased late in the growing season have not been bred for cold hardiness. If they do manage to live through the winter, they seldom bloom again. It is almost always easier to treat them as annuals and add them to the compost heap after the first hard frost.

However, there are some mums that are hardy enough to grow perennially in New Hampshire gardens. These so called “garden” mums are typically hardy in Zone 5 but may require extra winter protection. Some of the single-flowered varieties like ‘Sheffield’ (Chrysanthemum ‘Hillside Sheffield Pink’) or ‘White Bomb’ (Chrysanthemum weyrichii ‘White Bomb’) are hardier than the double florist varieties. To give these plants the greatest chance of survival, plant them in the spring so that they have the entire growing season to become established before winter. Choose a spot in the garden that has rich, well-drained soil and full sun.

Garden mums can be made more attractive by “pinching” them once or twice between Memorial Day and the end of June. To properly pinch a mum, remove one inch of the tip of each branch or shoot when plants are 6-8 inches tall. Pinch a second time when the resulting new shoots reach 6 inches in length. If pinching does not happen, mums may become top-heavy and require staking to keep them upright.

Occasionally garden mums do winterkill, especially if the soil drains poorly or if there are excessive temperature fluctuations in the winter. Since mums have shallow root systems they are very easily damaged by freezing and thawing. This type of winter damage can be prevented with mulching and proper care in the fall. Garden mums are much more likely to survive the winter if the dead plant stems are not removed until the spring. Additionally, adding a 2-4-inch layer of mulch over the crowns of plants can help. Pine needles, shredded bark, clean straw or evergreen boughs work well, but avoid leaves as these flatten and provide very little insulation. Remove the mulch once the ground thaws in April and cut back dead stems before new growth begins.

If successfully growing hardy garden mums sounds like too much effort, stick to annual florist types, or try planting other fall blooming perennials to extend the bloom season in your garden. Asters (Symphiotrichum species), ironweed (Vernonia sp.) or sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) are all excellent choices for New Hampshire gardens.

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How to Propagate Mums

Chrysanthemums refer to a genus of flowering plants with great genetic diversity. The Chrysanthemum was widely grown in China during the 15th century B.C as a flowering herb.

Stories recount that the boiled roots were used as a headache remedy, the leaves were used as a drink in festivities, and the sprouts and petals were useful in salads.

In 1753 the Swedish botanist, Karl Linnaeus named the flower using the Greek words chrysos and anthemom for ‘gold’ and ‘flower’, which early specimens of the plant resembled.

Today we have incredible cultivars with various colors and flower shapes like the one you see below.

There are three main methods to propagating Chrysanthemums; seed, divisions, or cuttings.

Things you will need: A round pointed shovel, potting soil, planting pot, Chrysanthemum plant, Chrysanthemum seed, sharp pair of hand clippers, honey or rooting hormone, pumus/perlite, sharp knife, seed starter mix.

Method 1: Propagate Mums by Seed indoors

Propagating Mums by seeds in early spring is a very inexpensive way to propagate new plants. Start off with is some premixed soil specifically for seeds that you can find at your local nursery or hardware store. You will only need a bag or two to get started.

You will want to fill very small pots, seed trays, or homemade newspaper pots with your seed mix to slightly below the rim. Press down firmly with your fingers. Then follow the seed packet directions for how deeply to plant.

Slowly water in lightly afterward just enough to moisten the soil. Place your seed pots or trays underneath a light fixture with a full spectrum bulb. You can purchase these from hardware stores or online. Many are very inexpensive light fixtures that you can hang in the house or garage.

Just make sure the light bulbs are full spectrum as this will give the best results inside. You want to have the lights only a few inches above the soil until the seeds germinate. After a week or two depending on growth you can raise the lights up higher.

You will want to keep the temperature at 60 to 70 degrees. Initially every other day check the soil to see if it is remaining moist but not soggy. If the soil is drying out water lightly. After the seedlings have rooted in the pots/trays well you will want to watch the soil every day to see if they need additional water.

A week or two before you last frost date (Check online for your region for what day this is usually) take your plants outside into a protected area such as a garage with windows or covered porch and grow them outside for several weeks before planting. This will help your plants to adjust to the temperature difference between inside and outside and harden off.

After 2-3 weeks carefully transplant your new baby plants into the soil. Make sure to plant your plants only as deep as the soil on your transplants. Water in gently as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Method 2: Propagate Mums by Cuttings

The best time for this is late spring or early summer before flower buds have developed. Fill small pots about 3 inches wide with fast draining potting soil, pumus, or perlite. Select a 2-3 inch long section of stem from the top of the plant using the soft newer growth not the woodier growth.

Cut the stem section off the main plant and remove the last pair of leaves near the cutting. Dip the stem into honey (a natural way of preventing bacterial and fungal problems) or rooting hormone and insert the cutting into the soil or perlite.

Place the cutting in bright indirect light. Use a misting bottle or slowly water as needed when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Roots take between 1 to 4 weeks to develop. You can lightly tug on the stem to see if it has developed roots. As new growth emerges you can pinch it back ¼ to ½ inch on each stem a few times to develop a fuller appearance as desired.

Method 3: Propagate Mums by Division

Propagating Mums by division is by far the easiest and fastest method for creating new plants.

When new growth barely starts emerging in spring time take a shovel and dig out the plant from the ground. Shake off or gently remove extra soil.

Take a sharp knife (butcher works best) and cut straight through the root mass to cut the plant in half. You can repeat to make quarters.

Take each section and pot up with new soil or plant out at the same level in your landscape. Each section is now a new Mum for your enjoyment.

About the Author:

Jonathan Aflatooni is the co-owner of Blacklotus Landscaping LLC and co-owner of Amber Bear Nursery and Farm. Jon has many years of practical experience in the field, from propagating his own collection of plant life to creating and designing new landscapes. He looks forward to sharing with a wider audience some of the insights and knowledge he has gleaned along the way.

Planting and Propagating Chrysanthemums

Hardy, garden chrysanthemums can be purchased from garden centers and other outlets in the spring and fall. Although fall is the time we enjoy the beauty of their colorful floral displays, spring is the best time to plant garden chrysanthemums. Spring-planted garden mums have the best chance of successfully overwintering in cold climates.

Garden chrysanthemums can be planted from spring through mid- to late July. Plant them in a well drained location that receives full sun. Plant them at the same depth they were growing in the container. Space chrysanthemums 18 to 24 inches apart in the garden, depending on the mature size of the variety. Water them thoroughly at planting and once a week through the summer during dry weather. Fertilize newly planted mums with a complete analysis, water soluble plant food and continue fertilizing once a month through mid-July to encourage vigorous growth.

Chrysanthemums grown for spring sales may have been forced into bloom. After the flowers fade, prune the plants back to about one-third to one-half of their flowering height. This will produce a sturdy, compact plant that will bloom again in the fall.

Cuttings of chrysanthemums can be taken in early spring to early summer from plants already established in the garden. This in an inexpensive way to increase the number of plants in your garden or to share with gardening friends. Take cuttings when the new shoots are 3 to 5 inches tall. Use a sharp knife to take a 2- to 3-inch cutting from the end of the shoot. Remove the leaves on the bottom half of the cuttings. Insert the cuttings in a flat or pot containing moist perlite. Insert the cutting into the perlite up to its first leaves. A rooting hormone can be used to speed up root formation, however, roots will form without it.

Keep the perlite moist at all times. Chrysanthemum cuttings will root in 3 to 4 weeks. When the roots are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, remove the cuttings and plant them into small pots containing fresh potting soil or plant them directly into the garden. Pinch off the top 1/2 inch of the small plant to encourage branching. Continue to pinch all shoots every 2 to 3 weeks until late June. This will produce full, mound-shaped plant.

Chrysanthemums sometimes become crowded in the garden. The old, center portion of the plant dies back and the new growth occurs around the perimeter of the clump. Renovating chrysanthemum clumps every 3 or 4 years will encourage healthy growth, neat plant growth habit, and continued flowering. When new shoots appear in the spring, dig the entire clump. Use a sharp spade or knife to cut the clump into wedge-shaped sections, like a pie. Remove and discard the point of the wedge (this is the oldest part of the clump). Plant the new plants, “wedges”, 18 to 24 inches apart at the depth they were growing. Water and fertilize as described above.

This article originally appeared in the March 14, 1997 issue, p. 21.

Mum’s the word as seasons change in Oklahoma

The middle of September has arrived, and the first hardy mums are already in bloom. Most all the varieties of chrysanthemums, one of Oklahoma’s grand fall traditions, are either in bloom or heavily budded and getting ready to bloom. The cool, moist weather of August is resulting in earlier fall flowers. If you already have some in your yard, they probably grew nicely this summer, and you can expect mounds of color.

If you go to buy some now from your local garden center, they will likely be in bud or bloom, and the size you buy will be the size they are for this fall. Once they set buds and flowers, the vegetative growth of the plant is complete for this season. If you buy a 6-inch or 1-gallon plant and enjoy it this fall at that size, remember that when it sprouts next spring and grows all season, most varieties will make a mound of 18 to 24 inches in diameter and 12 to 18 inches tall. Most hardy mums in Oklahoma survive our winters and grow nicely through spring and summer to produce a great fall flower show if watered regularly through the growing season. They are heavy drinkers and respond well to liquid or granular fertilizer during the growing season. You can get many flower styles of cushion mums in all tones of red, bronze, yellow, purple, orange and white to add excitement to your fall garden, as each plant can produce bushel-basket-size mounds of color. There is still time to apply weed-and-feed products or pre-emergent weed killers to control winter weeds in your lawn before they germinate. The sooner you apply the pre-emergent, the more effective it will be. This is the time to complete your final feedings for the season on your trees and shrubs to ensure a healthy root system as they prepare for winter. State fair time is when spring flowering bulbs usually go out for sale. I like to wait to plant them until mid-October through November, but now is a good time to select and buy the biggest, firmest tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses to have them ready to plant later this fall to produce bright cheerful colors early next spring. Those gardeners that kept watering and taking care of their tomato plants that didn’t produce well this summer are being rewarded with great crops of fall tomatoes. At my house, we are enjoying fresh tomatoes and peppers with every meal and bowls of green beans and potatoes, and eggplant dishes as fall vegetable yields are bountiful. Rodd Moesel serves on the Oklahoma Horticulture Industrial Council and the Oklahoma State University agriculture dean’s advisory committee. He is a former president of the Oklahoma Greenhouse Growers Association. E-mail garden and landscape questions to [email protected]

Fall is coming and with it comes the beauty of flowers most often available this time of year: mums. Chrysanthemums are a staple in fall gardens. They are a national symbol of fall abundance, and this hardy perennial is an easy addition to give a gorgeous pop of color in your fall garden landscape. With a little understanding and a few simple tips, you can have a lush, beautiful fall chrysanthemum garden display to help celebrate the changing of seasons.

Exactly what are chrysanthemums? They are a member of the Compositae family and are available in a wide range of brilliant colors, shapes and sizes. First cultivated in China over six centuries ago, this type of daisy was initially grown as an herb associated with the power of life.

The chrysanthemum flowers range from dazzling whites to deep bronzes, and the hardy plants are highlighted with full, dark green leaves.

So when is the best time to plant chrysanthemums? Planting chrysanthemum in the spring gives the perennial plant time to establish and adapt to its new garden home, but you’ll easily find mums in garden centers and nurseries in both fall and spring. Although it is tempting to buy those huge beautiful fall mums you see during the autumn season, in terms of longevity, the smaller spring mums are actually a better investment.

The root system becomes stronger throughout the summer and fall, which increases a plant’s ability to survive the winter. Planting in the spring will also result in a bigger bloom the following season. Although some fall mums can survive winter if planted immediately, the odds are much better with spring-planted mums.

The chrysanthemums you purchase in garden centers are frequently referred to as “hardy mums” for a reason. The majority of mum varieties are winter hardy in Zones 5 through 9. Some varieties, such as Mammoth Daisy, are hardy down to Zone 3. (Remember, we are in Zone 7.)

Chrysanthemums can survive in most soils, but they thrive in well-draining soil with consistent moisture. Growing mums in hard, dry soil prevents the roots from becoming well established, while wet, boggy soil drowns the roots. Finding the middle ground is key.

Chrysanthemums are sun-loving plants. Although they technically require only six hours of sunlight each day, the more light they receive, the better their growth, bloom and hardiness. Slight shade in hot, summer afternoons is appropriate in warmer gardening zones to prevent scorching.

Spacing mums properly is essential for plant health. Plants that are too crowded compete for nutrients, have root system issues, attract pests and suffer from disease. Following the plant spacing directions for your chrysanthemum variety increases the health of your garden and protects your investment of time and money.

Mums are generally considered low maintenance plants. Knowing how to care for chrysanthemums properly simply requires basic gardening techniques. With just a little special chrysanthemum care, your garden will be filled with a multitude of beautiful blooms. Mums require even moisture for the best growth. Consistent watering throughout the spring, summer and fall is essential. Once the ground is frozen in the winter, watering can be suspended until spring warms the soil.

Deadhead spent blooms throughout the fall for an extended bloom time. Once the plant has died in the winter, resist cutting it back. Research reveals that allowing it to die back naturally over the winter produces a stronger plant. Simply clean up the dead stems and foliage in the spring.

The key to winter survival is a consistent soil temperature. Frequent freezing and thawing cycles damage the roots and confuse the plant. Adding a thick layer of mulch — up to four inches — can help maintain an even soil temperature throughout winter. Spread mulch under your mums as soon as the surface of your soil begins to harden and the thermostat begins to dip into the 20s. Using a loose mulch, like straw, can reduce compaction and increase the insulation of the ground.

Add chrysanthemums to your yard to ignite some floral fireworks each fall. They are a hardy perennial that flourishes with minimal care and rewards you with glorious color in your landscape.

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