Question from Deborah:
I live in N.C. and planted mums several years ago. They bloomed last year in the fall and are in full bud now, June some are showing color. Should I let them go or pinch the buds? I would like them to bloom in the fall again.
Answer from Pat:
Usually chrysanthemums only bloom in fall when the day length and temperature are appropriate, but In greenhouses growers can trick chrysanthemums to bloom at any time of year by fooling the plant with lights and coolers. Perhaps odd temperatures are making the flowers on your plants too eager to bloom. Disbudding (explained below) won’t fix this problem. If the flowers want to open too soon they will do so. If you disbud too much the plants might not have time to produce more buds.
I suggest you take hedge shears and cut off about one or two feet off the height of the plants, removing all flower buds along with green growth. This can be done with many perennials, such as Shasta daisies, in June (for example if you were going to be away in July) to make them bloom about one month later and lower in shape with even more flowers than they would otherwise have. What happens is that the plants will then branch and once again put on buds to bloom lower and at least one month later. (Keep a calendar and mark down what you do so next year you can try it again if it works.)
Here are general rules for chrysanthemums in other years when they don’t look as if they will bloom too early: For sturdy flowers and big blooms start pinching back chrysanthemums in spring and pinch often. For large blooms also disbud them by taking off the side buds and leaving just one or three to a stem. But if you want masses of bloom and long-lasting garden color, then let the buds all grow or some of them. It’s up to you. Personally I love that look in a garden, don’t you? And it’s less work. In the cutting garden it often makes sense to disbud, but when growing for masses of color, why bother? Unless growing cushion mums, you will need to stake them also.
After cutting your chrysanthemums back, follow up with water and fertilizer.
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