Planting Mums in
I bought some lovely mums this fall for containers on my porch.
Although they are starting to go downhill, they have been beautiful
for at least two months. Because they have lasted so long, I hate to
just throw them away. Can I plant them in the ground?
A. While you can plant them in the ground,
there is a good chance that they will not survive winter unless it
stays as mild as it has been. The mums we purchase in fall have been
forced into bloom under ideal conditions in a greenhouse -- optimum
water, fertilizer, pest control and heat. They are tender and
succulent from this treatment and unprepared for cold weather when
it hits. While mums are generally hardy in our climate, they require
time to acclimate. It is too late for that now.
You could try to hold them over in an attached
garage, and then plant them in the ground next spring. Water very
sparingly over the winter, just enough to keep them from totally
drying out; too much water will cause the roots to rot. If the pots
are in decorative foil, be sure to remove the foil so it does not
hold water around the roots.
By planting them out in spring, they will have plenty
of time to become acclimated. To create the bushy plants with
numerous flowers you have now, you must pinch them back a few times
in spring and early summer. This simply means pruning the stems back
a few inches. Begin pinching them back shortly after they come up in
the spring and repeat at least twice before the Fourth of July.
Pinching after July 4 can delay flowering until it is too cold, then
the flowers may be spoiled by a heavy frost.