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‘Mums’ the flower to remember

As we know, the month of November is dedicated to the departed. It begins with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and continues throughout the month. It is traditional to pray for souls in Purgatory and visit the graves of loved ones.

Job 14:2 tells us “Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain.”

In the Holy Bible, flowers are used to represent beauty, love, graces and death. In November, we use roses, lilies, carnations and orchids in our floral arrangements. The flower most associated with All Saints’ Day is the chrysanthemum (mums).  On All Saints’ Day, it is customary to leave chrysanthemums on or close to the graves.

On my recent visit to one of my favourite plant shops, chrysanthemums were in full bloom in their assortment of colours. One large chrysanthemum plant had just enough blossoms to give a full bouquet of flowers.

For garden owners, instead of buying one bouquet, it is cost effective to invest in chrysanthemum plants. Plant them in your garden to have your own blossoms throughout the entire month.

Chrysanthemums are annuals but can be grown as perennials according to geographic location. These beautiful plants are very easy to plant and care for. Please be aware that chrysanthemums do contain substances that are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses if ingested. Be careful to choose a location in your garden where your pets cannot encounter them.

Send questions to rayannaboodram@hotmail.com

Here are some growing tips

for chrysanthemums:

  • Mums can reach heights of one to three feet. Blooms range in an assortment of colours in shades of white, yellow, orange, lavender, purple and red.
  • They prefer full sunlight during the growing season. Not enough sunlight will result in a weaker plant that produces fewer flower heads. However, blooms will last longer if they are moved to a shadier spot after flower buds develop.
  • For transplanting your mums, they prefer rich, well-drained soil. A good rule of thumb is if the soil is good for vegetables, it’s good for mums.
  • They require more frequent watering due to their shallow root system, especially in high heat or little rainfall. A layer of mulch applied to the soil around the plant in the months of March to July will help conserve water and keep the soil moist and cool.
  • For pruning, pinch using secateurs, approximately one inch from the branch tips two to three times after the plant has blossomed to encourage branching and a sturdier plant. If the plant has finished blossoming in early December, they can be pinched only up until July. Pinching must stop three months before blossoming.
  • Chrysanthemums require a diluted fertiliser several times before they begin to bud. A 5-10-5 fertiliser formulation will have the greatest effect on flower production and overall growth.
  • Be on the lookout for diseases such as leaf spot, powdery mildew. Viral diseases such as mosaic or stunt can also cause your plant to die. Avoid overcrowding your plants, especially if they are kept in pots, and overly shady locations that cause moisture to remain on the leaves and provide a habitat for diseases. Pests can include aphids, spider mites, caterpillars and leaf miners.