We are now in autumn with the summer’s heat behind us and the cold winter days right around the corner. The summer flowers, such as begonias, impatiens, marigolds, and vinca, are still blooming.

However, with the onset of freezing temperatures late October or early November, removal will be necessary since the plants cannot tolerate the cold. Pansies, snapdragons, and ornamental kale thrive in the cold and will soon be available at local garden centers. If you would like to add some color to your home landscape right now, consider planting some chrysanthemums.

The name “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek and means “golden flower.” However, the flowers come in a wide range of colors and flower types. Colors include yellow, pink, white, bronze, lavender, and maroon.

They are perennials and grow throughout the year. They grow leaves in the summer, but the short days of fall will initiate them to produce flowers. They can be pinched (the top buds removed) during summer growth to make them very bushy and to set many buds all over the plant. Nurseries do this, and an adequate supply of stocky, dark green plants with a multitude of buds awaits you at your local garden center.

Chrysanthemums must have good drainage. Do not plant in wet areas. Thoroughly till beds adding organic matter (compost or ground pine bark). Chrysanthemums require four to six hours of sunlight daily.

Mix some 10-10-10 fertilizer thoroughly with the soil before planting at a rate of one and one-half pounds per 100 square feet. Also, slow-release fertilizers work well. Liquid fertilizers are usable but need repeated applications every two weeks. Start applying in the spring as spring growth starts. Avoid applications later than mid-September.

Apply a one to three-inch layer of pine straw, pine bark, or cypress mulch, which conserves water, reduces weeds and increases the planting aesthetics. Water the plants thoroughly to keep the soil evenly moist.

Chrysanthemums do not have a lot of pests, but there are a few. Look out for aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies. Control them with insecticidal soaps, which is a special detergent formulated as an insecticide. Always read and follow all label directions. Consider planting some if you do not have any.

UGA Extension Gwinnett will offer an online Zoom class on perennial flowers on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. If you would like to participate, please contact the Extension office to register.

Timothy Daly is an Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent with UGA Extension Gwinnett. He can be contacted at 678-377-4011 or tdaly@uga.edu.

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