Mums about Mums: Propagation and All that

sammyyummy(11)November 26, 2013


I received two pots of mums from a friend and i tried to keep it alive as possible. The blooms have all dried out and are spent, but ive kept watering it every other day with a rooting hormone and the sides of the stems from the surface to a few inches up have started to show new foliage.

My questions are:

1. The spent blooms are still there while the bottom part of the stem has new leaves growing out. Do i cut the spent blooms? Will pruning the spent blooms or any top portion of the plant help root? What is the effect of "top" pruning to root development?

2. Ive taken some cuttings as well and placed them in vermiculite keeping the medium moist. But the cuttings have turned really brown - like dry brown - leaves to stem. Ive read that it sometimes takes 2-4 weeks till roots develop with the plant looking dead. Should I throw in the towel for this one?

3. In the other pot, the blooms are spent and dried out, new leaves have grown at the base but they have started to turn brown as well. What do I do?

4. When can I apply fertilizer?

Thanks. Your advice will be appreciated as others in the house want me to get rid of them and consider the mums as dead.

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iris_gal(z9 CA)

Cut off the dead blooms. This is called dead heading. The stem they were on is going to die anyway. This is true of all perrenials (as opposed to shrubs). They die back and send up new growth. Ripening blooms drain energy from the plant by producing seed which won't be true to the parent, when it's a hybrid. Side shoots may produce additional bloom.

So the existing blooming stems on your mum have done their job by producing progeny via flowers. And it's ready for a rest. Put it into the garden now. The roots need to get into new soil to continue the mum's growth/rest cycle. If you don't have a garden, buy a 12-inch deep pot for it with new soil (ie. potting mix). The time to fertilize is spring, when new growth starts. In new soil it may not need any fertilizer. Potting mix comes with built in fertilizer.

In spring the new shoots indicate it's alive and well. To prevent the plant from getting too tall, when new growth is 6-8 inches high cut off half of it. This is top pruning. The plant will be bushier as it forces side growth. Again in June you may pinch off the growing tips to force side growth. Exhibitors don't do this as they want the one perfect large bloom and does not matter if the stem is 4 feet tall. They pinch off side growth so the plant's energy goes into the one bloom. As to whether the root mass is bigger on top pruned versus non top pruned, I don't know.

If the cuttings have turned completly brown they are goners. Cuttings need to have shade and humidity. The growth hormone is called 'auxin' if you want to research. I strip the mum cutting only of its lower leaves and push into firm shady soil about an inch, water thoroughly and put a jar over it to create its own little greenhouse. The soil must be in firm contact. Then leave it alone for weeks. Roots form at buried leaf nodes. Most hobbyists root cuttings from spring growth because the growing tip is full of auxins, hence greater success.

If after 2 weeks your cuttings are all brown, tug gently. They will come out of the soil easily if dead. They will look like dead twigs! If your parent plant is still looking green (now), you may be able to detach a stem with some root on it.

One more thing. Professionals use a chemical spray to keep mums short and uniform. How this affects rooting a cutting I am not sure. About 8 years ago I could not get a cutting to root and the 4-inch (pot) mum would not establish in the garden either. Just died! I read there was a chemical being used to prevent propagation of stems. Maybe someone knows if this was rumor or fact.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 1:04AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

ive kept watering it every other day with a rooting hormone

==>> i dont know what this means.. on an intact plant ..


rooting mum.. is about the easiest thing in the world...

you can do a 3 inch cutting in a glass of water ..



    Bookmark   November 27, 2013 at 9:06AM
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You do not need to water an already rooted and potted plant with rooting hormone. And every other day is way too much to water; you will drown it.

Cut off bloom stalks, plant it outside and it will either rest until spring or put out new shoots from below ground. These are the shoots from which you will take your cuttings. Go online for full instructions. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 2:10PM
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The original poster says he's in zone 11, so probably he can put the viable-looking plant outdoors (in filtered light/shade at first).

Whether or not whatever type of mum he has will do well in his climate is another question.

And yes, cuttings that turn brown and look dead are dead about 99,999999999% of the time. Toss 'em.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2013 at 8:08PM
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