Northwest NEWS

October 2, 2000


Fall is time for family fun and mums from Yoder Brother, Inc.

Fall is the time for planting garden mums and having some family fun outdoors before winter's chill settles in. The two can go hand in hand.
   Anyone can grow garden mums and children are especially fascinated with growing plants.
   Plan and plant your own splash of fall color as a family. Working together to find just the right planting spot, creating a garden design and choosing plants can be as fun as actually planting the mums.
   The first step is to pick a spot for the mums. It can be a mass planting in the ground or smaller plantings in containers - or both.
   Look for a sunny location, with six hours or more of strong direct sunlight and well-drained soil that will not be exposed to frigid winter winds.
   Next, design the mum garden. Gardening magazines or a walk around the neighborhood can provide some good ideas.
   Decide on the size and shape of the garden to determine how many mums will be needed. Then choose a color scheme and determine the layout.
   Garden mums in the fall can be purchased in a wide variety of containers ranging from 6-inch pots, to 2-and 3-gallon containers and hanging baskets.
   Visit local garden centers or other retailers to see what is available. Check for healthy plants with dark green leaf color, firm leaves, absence of flower and leaf damage, strong stems and healthy long white roots.
   Plant garden mums in fertile, well-drained soil with fairly equal parts of sand, silt and clay. Good soil is made up of a series of "crumbs" or particle sizes. If soil feels hard and is not crumbly in the hand, add compost, peat moss or other organic matter. Spread about two inches on top of loosened soil and mix it in with a shovel.
   For gardening in containers, it is best to avoid using soil from the yard because it is heavy and doesn't drain as well in containers.
   Instead, use a commercially prepared soilless potting mix from a garden store. Try not to plant garden mums where they will be exposed to frigid winter winds.
   Dig a hole for each garden mum plant, making the hole slightly larger than the container.
   Depending on the size of the plant, garden mums should be spaced 15 to 20 inches apart from the center of one plant to the center of the next. Put the plant in the hole and gently firm the soil down around it.
   Thoroughly water the freshly planted mums. Add one or 2 gallons of water (measure with milk jugs) to the soil around the plants. Continue to water as needed to keep plants from wilting.
   Garden mums planted outdoors in the fall do not need any fertilizer until they begin to grow the following spring. In northern areas, garden mums often struggle to survive through the winter. To help your mum's chances of survival, try the following tips.
   Winter protection:
   Keep the soil moist as winter approaches;
   There is no need to prune back plants until the following spring execpt in warmer climates where plants are likely to continue growing through the winter;
   Mulch plants after the ground begins to freeze - not before - with leaves, straw, peat moss or other organic matter.
   In the spring, remove any old garden mum stems and gradually remove mulch.