Mums the word

Chrysanthemums steal the show this time of year, when their abundant blooms make gardens as colorful in fall as they are in spring and summer. They're a traditional symbol of fall and one of autumn's most indelible images, along with carved pumpkins and falling leaves.

Two of the most popular varieties are Belgian hardy mums and Yoder mums. The European-style Belgian mums came onto the retail scene in recent years and were immediately popular due to their high bud count, with upward of 1,000 blooms on some plants. They also require no pinching or trimming, which makes them easy to grow, and their stems stand up to abuse without breaking. Their rounded habit looks gorgeous in containers or in a flower bed.

Yoder mums are another option. This American classic garden mum has long been a premier fall plant. Created by the Yoder Brothers company in Ohio, they are low-maintenance plants and will thrive and flower for several weeks in full sun and fertile soil.

There's a kaleidoscope of colors available in all mum varieties, including yellows, golds, oranges, bronzes, reds, pinks and purples. They'll add a festive touch to your landscape and your mood. Mums create a spectacular splash of color to any garden or front porch. Pot them, hang them in baskets or add to a window box.

When winter approaches, if you prefer to overwinter your mums instead of treating them as annuals, cover with a thick layer of mulch as they hibernate until spring.

Whichever mums you choose, this is a great time to be a gardener with the range of mums available, bred for their prolific blooms, long-lasting colors and exceptional tolerance to both hot and cold temperatures.

Face it, fall without chrysanthemums is like spring without tulips or summer without roses. Shapes and colors abound, with puffy and round bouquet pompons, or lacy spider mums or even daisy mums with button centers in tight clusters of color. You'll find a range of bloom dates, from very early to late season, so with a bit of planning, you can keep your gardens in living color throughout the fall months.

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