Here in Michigan we know fall is almost upon us when we see Hardy Mums flood our retail garden departments and stores. The Hardy variety of Chrysanthemum comes in many colors and is all the rage for porches, walkways and balconies to signify the changing season. But, what happens to the mums once fall is over?
A few fortunate mums get a chance to bring beauty and happiness to their owners year after year by being planted outside. Some end up on a compost pile but most end up in the landfill.
Hardy Mums are perennials in Michigan (zone 5). However, they can be a bit particular as to the soil they are planted in. They like direct sun and fertile well drained sandy like soil that is a bit acidic at a ph of about 6.5. The mum in the picture above thrives in these perfect conditions. It is sandy under our top soil due to the nearby lake plus I added fresh compost when I transplanted it. Two pine trees stand about 8 foot from it which create the more acidic soil.
This picture was taken just before it fully bloomed. The bit of green showing on the left completely filled in. This plant is 3 years old. It stays in clump form and this years circumference is 5 foot.
If you have tried growing these mums outside and have failed at your attempt, try amending your soil. Thicker soils can be made fluffier by mixing in compost. If the area you are wanting to plant in is wet or soggy after just a little rain, make a raised bed to plant the mums in. Plant them about an inch deeper than they were in the pot and as with anything you transplant water them in good. They may need a bit of water throughout the first week but after that they will need little extra watering. You will know when they require your aid. Their leaves will look a bit limp. I have read that a bit of phosphorus fertilizer can be added to help the plant stabilize if you plant just before winter. However, I have never fertilized any of mine.
This mum is also 3 years old and this is it’s best year. It is planted at roads edge and the soil in this area is probably not as acidic however, the soil is very fertile and light. It only receives 4 to 5 hours of sun depending on the time of year. It does grow on a slight incline from the road and the soil is well drained. I’m sure it’s stunted growth is due more to lack of sunshine.
This mum does not grow in clump form. It is a spreading mum and new shoots pop up here and there, up to about 6 to 8 inches (thus far) from the main plant. I do not relocate it because I like the bit of color it gives the area. I am hoping that this extra good year has enabled it to become more established and that the following years will be better than the previous 2 in spite of the odds.