Chrysanthemums and Asters, Staples of the Fall Garden

There are very few gardens in Middle Tennessee that go without Chrysanthemums (Mums for short) or Asters for fall colors. With such a variety of colors there is one that can fit in nearly any garden. Both asters and chrysanthemums belong to the same family, Asteraceae, along with many other popular plants. In our garden we a have a few of both asters and mums blooming. In the first picture we have our New England Celeste Asters. The effervescent purple blooms are mixed into the front garden with the 'Purple Homestead' Verbena and some Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) which are both still blooming.

These red mums were all bought on the discount rack last fall. I don't buy mums at the regular price since there are always some on sale after the season winds down. Since mums are perennials here in Tennessee they should come back the following year. This would be a good time to mention a pet peeve of mine. I hate to see perfectly plantable mums sitting by the roadside waiting for the trash to be picked up. MUMS AREN'T TRASH! Either do one of three things:
  1. If they were in pots plant them in the ground somewhere in your landscape. If they were in the ground let them stay there, don't rip them out because the growth died back.They will come back!
  2. If you really don't want to mess with your mums deposit them in "Ye Ole Compost Bin."
  3. Give them to someone who wants them!

The purple mums in the picture below are mom's mums but the yellows are ours. If you want the typical bushy-bloom covered look of fall mums you have to trim them a couple times during their growth. Prune them back twice before July then once in the first two weeks of July then let them go. The pruning encourages branching which will make a bigger and fuller plant. I like to take cuttings of the new growth to make more mums for the garden.

Enjoy the fall colors!

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