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Before You Grow: Mum’s the word

Chrysanthemums add a much needed zing of color when gardens and landscapes are beginning to fade in the fall. (Photo Provided)

Chrysanthemums (or Mums, as they are usually called) are one of my favorite flowers, and they add a much needed zing of color when our gardens and landscapes are beginning to fade in the fall.

Many changes have happened in the Mum world over the years, offering new varieties and colors each season. If you have bought your fall flowers at a local nursery, greenhouse or farmers market, more likely than not, you’ve purchased Yoder Mums.

One of the interesting things about Yoder Mums is that they hail from our home state of Ohio, a little town called Barberton. Yoders got their meager beginnings from Reverend C. Z. Yoder, who was known for 2 things: 1) He helped establish an Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station at Wooster (where our current Ohio Agriculture Research & Development Center is located, and 2) He built greenhouses for growing vegetables in winter. People thought he was crazy!

At any rate, one of his sons ran his greenhouses and two others went to work for Ohio C. Barber, an industrialist, who had bought 3500 acres and built 20 acres of greenhouses as a “scientific farm.” The Yoders ran the greenhouse business until Mr. Barber passed away in 1920.

They purchased them, naming their business Yoder Brothers Hot House Vegetable Company. Around the 1930s, they started growing cut flowers, which were more profitable than vegetables. During World War II, they were forced into vegetable production for the war effort. They sent their flower stock (mums) to Canada for safekeeping, and brought the stock home after the war. Unfortunately, the stock had picked up a virus in Canada and they hired a plant pathologist to help resolve this issue. They also incorporated as Yoder brothers and set about becoming the best known Mum propagators and suppliers in the world.

Chrysanthemums add a much needed zing of color when gardens and landscapes are beginning to fade in the fall. (Photo Provided)

The Yoder name is still synonymous with chrysanthemums even though the parent company expanded into perennials and other plants and ended up selling the Mum business, and the name, in 2008. Their headquarters are still in Barberton, Ohio, but they own many growing facilities across the United States, and carry the new name of Aris Horticulture.

Some great history, and I’m proud to know that they originated in Ohio! Other popular propagators include Belgians, Igloo and Vitamum chrysanthemums.

Mums originally came from China and have been cultivated as early as the 15th century. Japan has them also, and a lot these countries’ history and festivals focus on the Chrysanthemum.

There are a lot of opinions about the differing types of mums, but simply put, there are basically two: a garden mum and exhibition, or show mums. Garden mums are what we buy at the box store or the local nursery. Exhibition mums are grown just for that and are pruned to usually only carry one large flower.

In our area, we usually buy mums in the fall, although florists carry them year round. If you are wanting your mums to come back the following year, you need to plant them to give them sufficient time to root before the fall frost date, which is predicted to be around October 20 this year.

It is recommended that you plant your mums six weeks before the fall frost, and make sure they are watered to help them develop roots. It is also best to leave the branches attached through the winter, as this will help protect the root system. These branches can be removed in the spring, once the new growth starts popping up.

Mums are a short day plant, meaning they need more darkness than light to produce flowers. So as our days get shorter in the fall, they start blooming. That being said, they love full sun and a well draining soil, and should be planted 18-36 inches apart, to allow for air flow, and so they don’t grow up shaped like stove pipes.

Happy Fall Gardening!

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Lynn Wiblin has been a Master Gardener volunteer since 2010. She has a BBA from Marshall University and lives on a small farm at Belpre.

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