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PLANT PROFILE::Tabitha Garden Mums

Set your autumn garden ablaze with plants that sizzle as temperatures tumble.

Flowering plants purchased in fall are typically treated as annuals that add color to autumn landscapes. In planting beds, mums may or may not overwinter successfully. Improve their chances of survival by planting early in the season, at least four to six weeks before the average last-frost date. Keep soil consistently moist, and follow the tips in the “Special considerations” section below. When planting, be sure to cut and loosen the root system.

Mums thrive in fertile, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.

Garden mums require consistently moist soil. Don’t allow plants to wilt. For mums in containers, each day of wilting reduces plant life by one to four days.

Garden mums do not require additional fertilizer the fall they’re planted. In spring, scratch an all-purpose fertilizer into soil around plants when new shoots emerge. Fertilize monthly until August.

Pinch stems throughout the growing season to encourage branched, full plants. As soon as new growth is 4 to 6 inches tall in the spring, remove half of the new growth at the top of every shoot. Pinch each shoot in the same way whenever new growth is 3 to 5 inches long. You’ll typically make two additional pinches per growing season, roughly on Memorial Day and July 4. Stop pinching in mid-July.

To create large splashes of color in the garden, group mums by hue. Interplant with cool-season annuals, such as pansies or flowering kale, in complementary shades.

Special considerations
To prepare plants for winter, keep soil moist until the ground freezes. After the ground is frozen, mulch plants with shredded leaves, straw, or evergreen branches. Remove mulch and dead stems in early spring.

Chrysanthemum ‘Tabitha’

•Color:dark red petals with yellow centers
•Hardiness: zones 5-9
•Plant Type: perennial
•Size:18–24 inches high, 12–18 inches wide
•Exposure: full sun; plants tolerate light shade; protect plants from hot afternoon sun in southern regions

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