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YARD AND GARDEN: “Bold” Moms Need Work to Help them Stay That Way | Home & Garden



Master gardener Juanita Sherwood is sharing information about chrysanthemums this week.

What does the term “robust” mean? When it comes to gardening, and applied to moms, most people assume that moms labeled “hardy” will winter well and come back the following year, maybe even for several years. In other words, the expectation is that the plant will be more or less a perennial.

People have asked me why their hardy mums planted in the fall have disappeared and have never been seen again. I asked myself the same thing. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why these moms may not have performed as expected.

First, there is the labeling. Just because a mum tag says a plant is “hardy” doesn’t mean it will live to grow back. An important factor that contributes to the success of a mom or not is the weather. Some winters are of course more severe than others. Most gardeners have lost a favorite plant – mom or not – that was supposed to overwinter very well, maybe even had in the past, but still succumbed to a harsh winter.

In the case of moms, this usually involves freezing and thawing, killing the plants if their root systems are not firmly established. Plant the moms early enough to give them plenty of time to establish good root growth. Be sure to plant them in a protected location and mulch them to provide insulation. Don’t plant moms in open, windy areas. It is also recommended to amend the soil with at least four inches of organic matter before planting.

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Factors beyond your control can also influence how well any plant, not just moms, performs for you. This is especially true when it comes to caring for the plant before purchasing it. For example, a plant may have been consistently overwatered or overdried.

Plants may also have been improperly fertilized. Some other growing conditions such as the amount of sunlight could also have compromised the plant, especially sun lovers. By the way, sunlight affects moms a little differently from other plants, as their nature is to bloom as the hours of sunlight decrease each day. Look for healthy plants before you buy.

If you have moms that reappeared in the spring, you need to keep the pinched plant (s) until around July 4th if you want that “cushion” looking plant later. This forces the plant to grow instead of pushing. I missed the boat last spring on one of my moms and ended up with a little 24 inch tall, washed out flowered “weed”.

One of the best moms I have ever had is the one I planted in the spring when she was little. The flowers looked like white daisies and the plant came back in good shape every year. Here again it had a long time to establish itself and it was a variety that seemed destined to come back every year. However, I struggled to find little moms to plant in the spring.

If you haven’t released a mom or two this year yet, think about it. Planting now could give them time for good root development if the frost doesn’t come too early. They will add color and texture to your fall landscape. If you don’t have a place to put one in the ground, consider displaying a mom in a basket or other container on your porch, or on one or more steps. They might even attract an appreciative glance or smile at someone.

For other interesting and informative reads on fall flowers, visit the Illinois Extension website. If you have questions about your garden or landscape, contact a Master Gardener at the University of Illinois at Mattoon Extension Office at 217-345-7034 or through our online help line at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/1523725. Visit the U of I Extension’s horticulture website http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ and like the Master Gardeners Facebook page www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners.

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for the University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that empower Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and to adapt to changes and opportunities.