How To Buy Garden Mums

This is an excellent stage to buy a garden mum if you need it to last a long time and show off immediately.

This mum is fully open and will probably be pretty for two weeks at the most.

If I want a long fall display this garden mum is perfect. Note how many of the buds are showing color.

For me cooler weather means it’s time to do a bit of fall decorating, and nothing beats the beauty of mums. The images above are good examples of how to buy as it relates to flowering longevity. But there are other things I think you should be cautious about, especially since most of the garden mums are bought at big box stores or home improvement centers. First, since it has been so hot and they have had garden mums for weeks, make sure the foliage is not yellowing. This is generally a sign of poor watering habits or not enough sun because they have been crowded. Second, check to make sure the soil is at least damp. So many of the mass sellers do a very poor job of watering their plants, and since we have just finished one of the hottest fall periods in a long time, if they are dry now chances are they were not watered well if they had been in the store for a few weeks. Never purchase a wilted plant. Recently I saw a big plant on sale at a very good price at the grocery store. Because of the price, there was a big temptation to buy a couple. Two things immediately kept me from purchasing them; the flower buds were not showing color, and the soil was dry even though the plant had not started wilting. Here is a case that if I bought them I would most likely be disappointed with a poor flower display if they opened. Now I must say I have also seen beautiful mums at some of our local garden centers like Leaf and Petal at the Botanical Gardens. Theirs were in excellent condition, even though they were delivered several weeks ago. So here’s the deal, buy wisely and enjoy them outdoors, but keep them watered and in a bright sunny location for the best fall display.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

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