By Bonnie L. Grant
Chrysanthemums are one of the heralds of fall although they are also produced for spring blooming. The flowers come in all the hues of the harvest and echo the changing leaf colors. Mums, as they are commonly called, are easy to grow and can be propagated by a variety of ways. Propagating mums can be from seed, started from division or even from cuttings. With so many ways to propagate it is easy to learn how to start mums.
Easy Mum Propagation Through Division
Propagating mums is fast and easy when done through division. Mums benefit from division every three to four years to enhance the form and flowering of the plant. This is done in spring and yields a spare plant or two. The centers of mums can begin to get leggy and may even die out when they get older.
In spring when the mum begins to show signs of sprouting, dig out the entire root ball of the plant. Use a sharp soil knife or spade and use it to cut the root ball into 3 to 5 sections. Each one of these sections can be planted to make a new chrysanthemum.
Planting Mum Seeds
You never know what you will get when you plant mum seeds. They will bloom the first year after planting but may not be true to the parent plant. Growing from mum seeds is easy and can prove quite an adventure due to the uncertainty of the type of bloom.
Because of the long growing season required for mum seeds, it is best to start them indoors six to eight weeks before the date of the last frost or sow the seed in spring in a well prepared bed. Cover them lightly with mulch and keep the bed evenly moist. Transplant the mums when they are 6 to 8 inches high.
Growing Mums from Cuttings
Cuttings are how to start mums for quick blooming plants. Cuttings produce the fastest mum plants, which will bloom within months. Spring or summer is the best time to take cuttings for mum propagation.
Use a sharp sterile knife to remove a 2- to 3-inch section of new growth at the end of a stem. Pull of the leaves on the bottom 1 inch of the cutting and insert it into peat moss or perlite. The cutting must always be moist but not soggy. It will root within a couple of weeks and then you should pinch off the top growth to encourage the new plant to form lateral growth.
Propagating mums is a task that you can enjoy as a home gardener. The variety of means for reproduction means you just have to decide how to start mums. Chrysanthemums make excellent potted plants for special occasion gifts or as perennials in the garden bed. You can bring them indoors or out for early spring or late fall color.