Garden mums: 2021 production and protection tips

Summer is getting underway, and so too are garden mums. Although generally an easy crop, there are several tweaks you can make to help save headaches and money.

This post has updated information to help you optimize your irrigation, fertilizer, and pest management programs in garden mums.

Track and even out the growth of your mums using a graphical tracking tool with a few easy steps:

  1. Save time by making a measuring stick: label a tomato stake in 1-inch increments and leave it in a representative plant.
  2. Find the tracking tool at – enter your current height, target height, and ship date. The tool produces a graph. 
  3. When you check your crop, compare your graph to the lines still visible on the measuring stick and determine if your mums are too tall or too small.
  4. Make small adjustments to your liquid feed until you are back on track:

High NH4+ fertilizers usually have high P as well but double-check your fertilizer labels to ensure that you’re using the correct forms of N.

If your crop is getting off track despite nutrient control or if you are using slow-release fertilizer, you might consider using growth regulators at low concentrations to keep your crop aligned with the tracking graph, find out more in our Guide.

For a complete discussion of this method, as well as other mums' tips, tune in to a discussion with Dr. Will Healy at the Stem podcast.

Irrigation method matters
Given the large acreage often occupied by garden mums, your watering strategy is one place you can look to save money.

There are plenty of options for irrigation in potted outdoor crops, but not all are created equal when it comes to maximizing water efficiency. Overhead irrigation by boom, or sprinkler is not efficient if your pots are not spaced tightly. Canopy sizes in the later months of production may make this impossible, especially if you choose to go with final spacing when pots first move outside. These methods of irrigation can also lead to pots that are too dry (not watered) or too wet (overwatered). Plants can only use water that makes it into the pot, so a low-volume drip line or tape is a more effective way to delivering usable water to your outdoor crops.

Drip line irrigation can be a more efficient way of delivering water and nutrients to outdoor crops. Remember drip line only reduces lost irrigation volumes if it is used properly. A “set it and forget it” approach doesn’t work. Look for kinked lines and clogged emitters, and make sure connections are tight. Know your application volumes and irrigate based on crop needs and weather patterns, not a set schedule.

Interested in improving your water use efficiency? Check out this post on outdoor mum and hydrangea production that highlights how to calculate volumes used.

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