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Mums the word

September 28, 2018
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


Yes, when fall arrives, it is time to plant the many colored varieties of the garden mums, or chrysanthemums.

Read your plant tags. Sun is the big word here, not the many varieties of sizes, colors and shapes.

These beauties love the sun. They also love dry feet so do not plant in low spots or dry clay. They do not need to be in sand either, of course, but a nice, loose, well-draining space.

The sun is still pretty hot for another couple of weeks, so make sure that the soil is wet when you plant and allow some sprinkling every day to keep them from burning up right away.

I would always plant without fertilizer, in a garden, for the first week then once every couple of weeks a light all-purpose bloom fertilizer.

In a pot, fertilize lightly and wet it in carefully.

In the garden, these plants are herbaceous perennials. When planting, pinch off one or two tiny buds, keeping the center larger flower alone. New buds will appear after the shock of planting wears off.

The stems die back every year at the end of growing season, new growth restarts from the rootstock and will be a little larger each year.

About three years of an established bed is a good time to dig up clump and re-plant, cleaning out old dry pieces.

These plants are not expensive and you may decide to just enjoy for one season and then compost them all to start anew the next fall.

There are so many colors and varieties to choose from, that it is fun.

A large pot of chrysanthemums will need to have faded blooms pinched off and a little trimming off and on to keep the nice looking mounded form. If there is a dried up stem among the blooms, just snip it off. The plant will soon cover up the empty space.

Planting single garden mums in a straight row is kind of boring unless you are planting a whole lot of them. They look tiny at first but they will grow into nice busy plants and be nice and close together.

You can always pull out a plant or two and later re-do it someplace else. You could also plant them around your herb garden or over by your tomatoes.

Some unfriendly critters do not like the scent of these plants and will stay away.

The plants are native to Asia an and Northeastern Europe.

NASA has done a clean air study and decided chrysanthemums, as

house plants, reduce indoor air pollution.

Yes, these plants are not really pet friendly, but are also not very tasty. It is possible if ingested by dogs and cats to cause vomiting, diarrhea and loss of coordination.

The good news, there are over 140 cultivars of chrysanthemums and mums that have gained the Royal Horticultural Societies Award of Garden Merit, in 2017.

Also think Greek. The Greek prefix "chrys" means golden and "Anthemion" means flower.

The flower symbolizes optimism and joy, mostly. Chrysanthemums mean a lot of different things to different populations.

The plant can be made into tea and the greens may be blanched in hot, boiling water and eaten as salad. PLEASE. Do not use flowers or plants that have been sprayed with anything, but good water.

The tea is made from the dried flowers, in our modern life, use tea bags.

Chrysanthemum, in Chinese, is known as "ju hua."

The tea is thought to be helpful to treat chest pain, high blood pressure, fever, colds and headaches among a few things.

Note that while used for hundreds of years in Chinese medicine, our contemporary scientific research does not support all of these uses.

The Western cultures always need to know how things work. The Eastern cultures are secure in their ancient traditions.

One of my kind of ancient traditions is a hot cup of black, or green tea to make all of my problems fade. A drip or two of local honey helps, as well as some of the more exotic tea flavors to really help.

So I am willing to try a chrysanthemum tea bag for sure.

I have looked for some chrysanthemum tea in local health food stores and there are many teas available but I have not found chrysanthemum tea yet. I am not the kind of shopper who walks into a store and asks for what I want, to me part of the fun of something new is finding it myself. It takes a little longer, but the reward is bigger.

We gardeners are like that.

On Saturday the 29, the Cape Community Garden plots will be dedicated at noon. The area is just north of the City Hall parking lot. See the large tiki hut built by the Cape Coral Rotary Club.

Contact Rotary Park for plot rental information.

Happy Gardening till we met again.

H.I. Jean Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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