Heirloom mums often grow tall and lanky. Here, white 'Venus' holds its own when paired with ornamental grasses.
Van Chaplin, Roger Foley, and Lacy Kerr Robinson
'Single Apricot Korean'
Old Flowers Find New Friends
Luckily, today's gardeners don't have to beg a friend for a division. Because these mums are so hardy and their flowers are so welcome at this time of year, more and more nurseries are selling them. Though mail-order nurseries have wider selections, better garden centers are catching up. Now is a good time to plant.
Tips on Care
If you like mums that form tidy spheres 18 inches across, don't grow these. But if you want fall-blooming perennials that can stand shoulder to shoulder with asters, salvias, and ornamental grasses, you've found the right plants. Many grow tall during summer and survive the coldest winter to grow as high and even wider the following year.
Left to their own devices, the large, old mums usually sag under the weight of their blooms. Welcome this trait, and even plan around it. Place taller-growing mums in the back of the border. Their flowers will fall toward the sun and hide any tired summer annuals that are planted in front. But if you prefer to have shorter plants, cut back tall growers by half in early July.
Heirloom mums need only full sun and good drainage to thrive. When clumps grow too large, divide them in late fall or early spring, and replant. Go easy on the fertilizer. Well-fed old mums tend to flop even more.