a long brutally hot summer, two tropical storms and a
hurricane, one could use a little perk-up, and no plant
brings cheer like the chrysanthemum. Cooler temperatures
partnered with a few mum containers with flowers
numbering in the thousands will boost your spirits like
few other plants.
was seven years ago that I last wrote about Belgian
mums. To me, Belgian mums are so superior in bloom and
rugged perseverance that they are the only choice. This
last seven years, however, has taken me on a long
journey of sorts where I kind of forgot this Old Friend.
the grand scheme of flowers, the Belgian mum is really
not that old. Today I was looking at a large garden
center ó one that sells mostly generic, if you know
what I mean. There they were huge selections, and though
the tags didnít tell me what I really wanted to know,
I recognized them.
said to myself, "I know you and I gave the huge mum
ball of flowers a big hug."
am sure the cashier was having a coronary unless he knew
too. One of the best things about Belgian mums is they
are huggable. Itís not like being a tree hugger, mind
you. Sure, you will fall in love with the incredible
flower production numbering in the hundreds if not
thousands, but you will also be thrilled in their
mums is a recipe for disaster on typical varieties, as
the branches break like crumbling pretzels. But Belgian
mums literally refuse to brake. While filming them for
"Southern Gardening," I had a nice pot perched
on a fence post to get a special angle. Before anyone
could reach, a gust of wind blew them upside down.
Despite falling over three feet, no branches had broken.
You will be able to pack the SUV with Belgian mums for
transporting home and they will all arrive intact.
that day, there have been dozens of new varieties and
colors added to this group. Belgian mums come in early,
mid and late season varieties as well, meaning with a
little planning you can have mums blooming all fall.
had the opportunity to grow hundreds of them in a
university trial, and they thrilled 6,000 visitors who
attended the field day. We planted in full sun on raised
beds, with fertile soil that drained well. That is still
the regimen today. But to be honest, three or four 11-
to 15-inch containers with a rounded mass of your
favorite color of Belgian mum on the porch or patio is a
thrill you will want to experience every year.
garden settings, wonderful combinations can be created
with plants like Russian sage, Mystic Spires Blue
salvia, fountain grass and ornamental peppers. But by
all means, donít forget a pumpkin or two and a few
bales of hay.
the mums succumb to freezing weather, trim the foliage
back to just above the ground and give them a good layer
of mulch. It is not uncommon to have a good spring bloom
of mums. After this bloom, cut them back again and
fertilize to get them ready for fall.
are at your garden center now. Buy some in tight bud to
allow for maximum landscape impact and get some that are
blooming to add instant color for this weekís game day
could give you a big list of Belgian mum varieties like
Pobo Red, Conoco Orange, or Atlantico Yellow, plus
dozens more. Talk to your independent garden center and
let them show you the Belgian varieties.
the mass marketer will likely have Belgian mums too, but
generic tag. Look around and see if anyone is watching,
when the coast is clear, so to speak, give them a big
bear hug. If the branches move back in place, you have
found a Belgian mum. If the branches break, just say