OSU mum sale begins with tips for front porch decor
Thursday, September 23, 2021
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Chrysanthemums get their 15 minutes in the spotlight every fall, but most won’t make it past the month of November. The annual mum sale at The Botanic Garden at Oklahoma State University is underway, and organizers have some tips when purchasing the perennial flower.
Tip No. 1: Don’t buy mums in hot weather.
Big box stores begin selling mums in September when Oklahoma temperatures can still reach 100 degrees. Lou Anella, director of The Botanic Garden at OSU, said it’s best to wait until cooler weather in October.
“You don’t want to buy the plants already in full flower,” he said. “You want them to flower at home so you can enjoy them for as long as possible.”
Anella said the rooted cuttings delivered to the garden in June are mum varieties bred to bloom in October. The flower plugs are planted in pots specifically for the annual sale.
Tip No. 2: Define mum expectations.
Consumers purchase mums for different reasons, but a majority are buying the flowers specifically for fall decoration. The mums sit in pots on front porches and are tossed in the trash after their bright colors have faded.
“Keeping them in the pot is fine if you just want to throw them out when you’re done, but if you want to perennialize the mums and grow them in your garden, you need to plant them immediately,” Anella said.
Tip No. 3: Strategically water mums transferred from pot to garden.
Mums sold in the fall are potted in an artificial soil mix. Planting the mums in a garden does not return them to native soil. Therefore, watering must occur directly over the root ball.
“Pour water right over the top of the mum,” Anella said. “Otherwise, water won’t reach the roots that were bound in the pot.”
For those who wish to plant mums in their garden, Anella suggested seeking out varieties grown for that environment. Garden mums typically are sold in the spring. Otherwise, mums marketed in the fall are intended for temporary use as decoration.
“We’ve grown accustomed to mums selling in stores so early in the season,” Anella said. “These big meatball varieties sold in the fall are beautiful but are not bred for the garden.”
The Botanic Garden at OSU grew 1,500 mums for this year’s sale. The colorful flowers along with festive pumpkins will be available seven days a week, 8 am. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 15 or until they are sold out. Check The Botanic Garden at OSU Facebook page for updates.