All over Birmingham, garden centers big and small are getting in their garden mums. But while the prices are highly variable, so is the quality. You can buy them as small as a 4 inch pot in bloom, to some the size of a small round table. Be selective in what you buy. The one shown in the picture is perfectly shaped coming into bloom and has been cared for since it arrived to the wholesaler. So, here are my tips for buying garden mums that should last at least a month outside in bloom.
- Buy plants that are just showing color and maybe only a couple of blooms are open. If you are planning to put them in a shady place, make sure lots of the buds are showing color, as they need sun to bloom their best.
- Do not buy leggy plants or ones that move in the pot when you pick them up.
- Inspect the plant and make sure none of the branches are broken, as they are very brittle and break easily.
- Buy for the location you intend to place them, paying special attention to their height and color.
- Make sure the plants you buy have been watered and are not wilted. Many of the big box hardware stores let some of their plants wilt before they water, and that reduces their quality.
- And finally, since there are so many colors, sizes and heights, shop price. For example, two smaller plants put together might be a better buy than one larger one.
Once you get the plants home, the most important thing is to keep them watered. Remember, these plants were grown and watered by drip irrigation, so it is best to water them and not get the foliage and flowers wet. Enjoy them this fall, and then when they finish blooming, add them to your compost pile.