Chrysanthemums and Kale
Planting Chrysanthemums and Other Challenges
Chrysanthemums are native to the Orient and I was asked about planting some of them before the end of November. I was at a vegetable auction near Mansfield a few weeks ago and saw hundreds of hardy mums getting close to blooming. There are number of different types of mums some are tropical like most of the florist mums and then there are the hardy mums that we can plant in the ground in Ohio and for the most part expect to see them next year. Chrysanthemums are heavy feeders and need to have rich loamy soil to grow. To allow them not to develop any sort of diseases they need to be planted in loose soil in a sunny spot. This provides the best chance for them to do well. A friend of mine in Wooster, Ohio has a hedge of Chrysanthemum along a sidewalk leading to the door and as I recall they have the rich loose soil in a sunny spot and he hasn’t had any problems with his mums for many years.
I have had a special feeling for mums for some time. Sound a little strange doesn’t it. A neighbor business located in Summit County actually saved these plants. There was a serious soil borne disease that was spreading like wild fire and no one knew how to stop this disease. In the 1960s – 1970s a unique solution to this problem came up. What happened is that if you can raise the Chrysanthemum out and away from the soil you may be able to preserve the plant. Yoder Brothers in Barberton developed a process called Tissue Culture for Chrysanthemums, which is taking live stems and growing them in a special type of jelly like compound with all kinds of chemicals. In 2000 I was in the last class on Tissue Culture that was taught on the OARDC campus or ATI. My special plant project was on Chrysanthemum, which I cut tiny joints, which is where another tiny stem would branch off the main stem where the leaves of the mum would grow. Most of the tiny joints I cut up survived, as I recall and enjoyed it. What was so important was that you could raise Chrysanthemums all by themselves out of the soil and avoid any soil borne disease. This is how we have any Chrysanthemums left. Tissue culture allowed the mum to grow without the need for soil.
I suppose that the big thing with putting any sort of plant in the ground is that you need to have soil temperatures high enough that the root hairs will have a chance to root and become established. One of the mysteries even with all of our knowledge is that we still are not sure how the microscopic life reacts with a plant’s root hairs to help the plant grow. If you don’t allow them to have a chance to get established and the soil temperatures fall to a point they can’t grow, then the mums will have a more difficult time to get established. Some people over-winter mums in cold frames or cool cellars during the winter. Many plant writers have said that zone 5 is the furthest North that you can hope to grow mums outside.
For me massive plantings of mums are one of the best ways to get a lot of color out in your yard, that can’t be beat. You will find that Flowering Kale will do very well alongside the same soil conditions that mums enjoy. Flowering Kale though is considered an annual for your beds and at best a biennial without the color.
As with any other perennial you really do need to divide not merely just cut back at the end of the season. For the best performance because these are now perennials I would seriously consider dividing the older clumps each year, if done in the spring. This could be considered a form of pruning. Then I would advise that you would cut the mums back at the end of the season and then in the spring maybe you should go about the process of dividing each of the clumps. A couple of years ago I tried dividing my False Indigo with a sharp axe and I did get some chunks divided off the plant. Still have beautiful colors from my Baptisia, False Indigo.
If you have any problems in your garden do not hesitate in dropping me an e-mail at email@example.com. I’ll do the best I can to help.