October 30, 2009

Mystery of Mums

Like a lot of people, I love to buy mums in the fall for my porch and for indoors. I didn't know much about this plant, so I did a little research and found terms like "hardy" mums and "florist" mums, neither of which was considered to be anything that would make it through an Iowa winter if planted in the ground. Usually I purchase them at a garden center and I never spend a big wad of money on them, since we know they're really just temporary decoration - right???

Well, meet the wonder mum, the never-say-die mum, the how-does-it-do-that mum! This strange plant has been growing and re-growing in a big plastic resin planter for three years now. The first year, I planted it in this pot along with some other autumn plants, and then it stayed on our porch until we needed to move it out of the way for Christmas decorations! It was plopped into a corner of the garage and stayed out in the frigid temps all winter long. I never watered it or had any notion of tending to it, since as I said before, I considered it a disposable plant. However, in late spring I noticed that this plant was actually sending up new green foliage - how strange. At that point I did start watering it and it grew to full size and flowered right on time in the fall. It's now done the same thing for a second year! I don't think it's the same color that it was originally, but that just makes it all the more intriguing to me.

And here is another anomaly among mums. This plant was sent to us two years ago in the spring as a get well wish. After it quit blooming, I planted it out front, where it proceeded to grow and grow and bloom again in the fall. I simply cut it back to the ground after that and of course, it came back again! It got so big this year that we had to tie it to the porch railing to support it. Another thing that we've never done is pinch back the early buds that form on these, which several gardening sites strongly advised for maximum blooms. Even so, this pant in particular couldn't possibly bloom any more vigorously! I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that the plants we fuss with the least are the ticket to a satisfying landscape garden. Maybe I'll stop all the feeding, mulching, spraying, dead-heading, and so on. Maybe from now on I'll just plop the plants in the ground and let them have a go of it!

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