Q: I see mums of all colors at the grocery store at a very good price. Are they just for inside use or for planting outside next spring?
A: Mums are a fine transition between seasons, as we are getting close to the end of the growing season. Mums are called “the last flash of lighting in the garden,” but we must prepare for that flash if we expect it to come at all. The question is not “Do you want to grow mums,” but rather, “How many do you want?”
Mums are especially economical perennial plants, and they are at their best right now. Remember last spring? You were paying at least $15 for a potted perennial plant that was not even in bloom. In the fall, you can buy a pot of perennial mums, in full bloom, for less than $5. Mums also do double duty as permanent garden plants, temporary houseplants, gifts and decorations.
Where else can you buy an armload of flowers that will decorate the whole house, inside and out, and then be planted permanently in your garden?
First, you can use them outside on the front steps, inside on the table for a centerpiece, or in a basket by the fireplace. They can be a gorgeous, living gift for a friend — think mums for a hospital or nursing-home gift. They are long-lasting, do not need attention and are not messy.
You could use pots of mums to decorate a room for a special party, anniversaries or political rallies, and then the plant could go home as a raffle prize. These very same plants, for less than $5 a blooming pot, turn right around and have a second life, going straight out into the garden where they will live for many years and help landscape and add value to your property.