Tuesday, October 2, 2007


We have been "mum"ified here at Countryside. Every year we grow around 15,000 (yes, that's right) mums of just about every color, bloom-time and plant growth habit. We also provide mums at a discount to many community organizations here in McHenry County for their fund-raising efforts, so even if you don't come by the store, if you have bought mums through your local school or club, you have probably bought Countryside mums.

Mum History-- The Chinese wrote about chrysanthemums as long ago as the 15th century BC. It was cultivated as an herb and was believed to have the power of life. The mum appeared in Japan around the 8th century AD and they were so taken with it, they incorporated a single flowered chrysanthemum into the crest and official seal of the Emporer. The mum finally made it to the West by the 17th century. Since then it has been hybridized to the plant we know today. The National Chrysantheum Society (proving once again there is a club for everyone) divides bloom forms into 13 types but basically they can be summed up as: cushion, daisy, pompon, and spider, quill or spoontip. The spider or quill types are not hardy in our zone and the spoontip is the closest one.

Early, Mid or Late Bloomers-- I was a late bloomer myself. Really, I feel like I'm just coming into my own (and I'm 50) but that may be because my kids are all off at school and Mr. Ross just asked for a divorce BUT lucky for you mums bloom alot sooner than that, although is is all relative and dependent on the weather.

We list our mums as early, mid, late or season extenders. Mums are short day plants, meaning they bloom when the days become shorter (like we needed to be reminded of that!). The early mums will start to bloom around 1 September with the season extenders not blooming until mid to late October. Warm weather in August can delay bloomtime by a week or so. However, once opened warm weather will shorten the life of the bloom, while cooler, overcast weather will lengthen it. As long as the buds are not open, frost will not hurt the bloom.

Most people I think use mums as annuals but if you want to use them as a perennial, here are a few tips: 1) Do plant them as soon as possible. Don't put them in a container, then plant them in the ground at the last minute; 2) Do plant them in a sunny location in well draining soils; 3) Do use a fertilizer high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen when planting, but once established (i.e. next spring) fertilize monthly. Phosphorus is stimulates root growth, which is important any time you plant, but especially in the fall. ; 4) Do water thoroughly once a week until the ground freezes, usually in November; 5) Don't cut them back in the fall. Leaving the stems on provides winter protection. Also, mulch if you remember; 6) Left to their own devices, mums can get quite tall. Cut them back by about half no later than 30 June.

I forgot to take some pictures so hopefully when I get to work tomorrow we'll will still have some left and I'll add them later.

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