Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mums and Asters

The colors of fall.

Mums and asters are in bloom everywhere. The colors in my garden are mostly yellow to orange, a few pinks and a purple. The size varies from a diminutive button mum to the 3 foot high and wide yellow mum that was an Easter gift. (Yes, I did pinch it back.)

Chrysanthemum rubellum 'Clara Curtis' has been a real winner. This pink daisy mum, purchased in 2004 from Wayside Gardens, grows and grows and bloomed all summer. I’ve given away a few pieces of this plant.

Another winner in the hardiness category is Chrysanthemum koreanum ‘Single Apricot’. This daisy-shaped mum spreads and needs to be propped up. I use 4 sections of 24” or 32” Gard’n Border green round folding fence to make a cage. The fall color is a sweet peachy-pink. I purchased it in 2004 from Hickory Grove Greenhouses in North Catasauqua.

A spectacular show this year is the orange mum transplanted from my Mom’s garden several years ago. I don’t know the name but it produces a great bloom every year. This one also gets pinched and propped and grows 2 to 3 feet tall.

Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’, planted in 2004, has a deep, rich purple color. I originally planted 2 but only one remains. I pinch the plant back lightly until the middle of June. I didn’t have much trouble with mildew this year – because it was so dry? It doesn’t spread (unfortunately) and is pretty care free if you can put up with the mildew. I would like to add a few more asters next year.

I try to plant mums in a wind-sheltered, sunny spot. They make good foundation plantings. In winter, I cover them with branches cut off when the plant dies back and some leaves or mulch. I try to shelter them from the winter freeze/thaw cycles. Sometimes I lose a mum but mostly they make it through the winter.

The hardiest of my mums: ‘Clara Curtis’ is planted in a sunny open spot and seems to do fine. I haven’t done anything to it – no fertilizer, no pinching, no cutting off dead branches. The ‘Single Apricot’ is under a dogwood tree but gets some sun. This one is pinched, propped, cut and covered. It spreads a lot so I end up with plants to share or plants for the compost. I just pull or cut them out when it gets too wide.

What a colorful way to end the summer.

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