Chrysanthemums Before Season


My husband hates my seasonal decorating obsession. He thinks it’s a waste of money, a waste of storage space and it’s plain ol’ silly. Despite this though, last year for our anniversary he bought me six huge mum plants from Lisena Garden Center (12-5 Cross Bay Blvd, Broad Channel). They looked beautiful on my porch. Adding the burst of yellow and orange color I needed to contrast the hay bundles and corn stalks in my fall harvest display. The flowers lasted well into late October.

I never understood why people throw chrysanthemums out after they pass bloom, they’re perennial. If you plant them in the ground over winter, mums will come back year-to-year. Maybe they’re not kept because of a garden space issue? It pains me to see them sitting curbside with the trash. A few times I’ve picked healthy ones out of the garbage pile in front of my neighbors homes to “save” them.

Last fall I planted my anniversary mums in the backyard. This spring they started growing! I was excited to see the plant come alive once more. Interestingly, I noticed buds developing in late July. This was so curious to me, as we all know, mums at our local nurseries in September are budding then.

After a few google searches I learned the causes of premature budding:

  1. Temperature: low temperatures initiate early flowers, high temperatures (above 90°F in the day and/or above 75°F at night) can delay flowering. Temperature change will override day length bloom cycles.
  2. Lack of water, too much fertilizer, other stressors such as blight can cause early bloom.

What I’ve deduced from the above is: the mums my husband purchased last year were most likely a cultivar that naturally bloom earlier, during longer days of more sunlight. I didn’t pay attention to watering so lack of water could also be a factor.

4Chrysanthemums cultivated for trade are grown in extremely controlled environments so that growers can coordinate bloom in the fall, making a profit, when this popular plant is sought after. Now I know and understand though, this perennial isn’t necessarily a late-blooming plant by nature.

My initial intention was to dig up the mums growing in the backyard for display and then replant again, using them year-to-year. But now that mine are in early bloom,  I’ll have to purchase new mums in mid-September. So I’m back to spending unnecessary money on season decor but I look at it this way…  I’m supporting local business which is important and it makes me happy as hell – so there you have it.

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tagged in fall, gardening, plants