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Continued care of your chrysanthemum

Maybe it was because of the lovely warm, sunny autumn that we enjoyed, but for whatever reason, retail shops and garden centres were filled with potted chrysanthemums in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Even after Thanksgiving, there was an abundance of potted mums available for people to use in their autumn décor. The colours include bright yellow, vibrant red, deep maroon, shimmering copper and pure white. When in full bloom a potted mum is a sight to behold.

Many people place their potted mums in an outdoor display around the time of Thanksgiving but by now the plants have long since been moved indoors to protect them from the cold. They might yet contribute a few weeks of colour to the indoor landscape if they are cared for appropriately. Particularly if the potted mum was in bud — as many of the ones that I saw were — instead of in full bloom, the plant might bloom well into November.

Mums like bright light so the best location indoors would be close to a sunny window, but perhaps with the pot set aside a bit to protect it from the full rays of the strongest afternoon sun. Full, direct sun will cause the blooms to go past more quickly. The potted plant should be watered regularly as the soil will be full of roots, which will suck up moisture from the soil in no time; do not allow the planting medium to dry out. The best way to water the pot is to place it in the sink and add water until it comes out the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Let the pot drain well.

There is no need to fertilize the plant; residual fertilizer applied in the greenhouse will carry it through until it is finished blooming. Fertilizer would only be added if the plant is wintered over, which few people attempt as it is difficult to accomplish. Be sure to snip off spent blooms and discoloured leaves to keep the plant attractive and keep a close watch for insects. Spider mites will attack chrysanthemums, especially in the warm, dry environment of our homes at this time of year. Giving the plant a quick shower, being careful not to damage the blooms, will help to avoid an infestation.

Enjoy your potted mum as long as it continues to bloom and then consign it to the compost bin. It will have earned its keep by supplying you with brilliant fall colour, probably right up until the snow flies.

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