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Mum pinching help

Posted by diggerdee z6 CT (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 20, 12 at 7:39

Two questions -

First, immediate question - I came across a clump of mums that, despite pinching back several times, is covered with buds again. Is it too late to cutback yet again? I thought the trditional wisdom was July 4th for the last pinching. I'd rather have early blooms than cut back again now and have no blooms.

Second, more general question - why do my mums always look like cr*p when I cut them back? With the exception of the above-said clump with buds, they all look scraggly; little groups of sticks with rather ratty leaves. I have a feeling it may be the way I cut them back - I'm sure there is a specific spot on the stem that they should be cut at - but when I have to pinch back thousands of mum buds, I just don't have time to be that precise, so I pretty much grab a handful of stems, cut off the top couple inches and move on. Is this method so wrong that it's causing them to look so bad?

For what it's worth, the nice-looking clump with buds was cut back the same way. Also for what it's worth, now that I think of it, the good-looking clump with buds was a fall-purchased, stick-in-the-ground-and-hope-it-comes-back purchase, now on its third season. The ones that look bad were all spring-planted, nursery-purchased plants.

Please help. I love mums but can't seem to get the hang of them, unless I go back to buying them as annuals each fall.

Dee


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Mum pinching help

I don't think it is the way you pinch. The plants being pinched just are not well enough established with enough root capacity to recover rapidly. Al


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RE: Mum pinching help

As you had written the rule of thumb is to pinch back by July 4th.

And I do agree that right now my mum plants look just as you describe, i.e. little groups of sticks with rather ratty leaves.

So the question I ask....is it worth having such a look knowing that in September and October you have those unique mum flowers?


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RE: Mum pinching help

Last year I asked a mum grower about the problem of buds too early. I was instructed to keep pinching the growing tip because it's the growing tip which is sending instructions to the plant to produce buds. Simply removing individual buds won't do any good. So I think you're doing that right. And yes, I was under the impression early July is when you stopped pinching.

Despite my weekly pinching, I simply can't get some of my mums to stop producing buds this year. I've given up. In fact some of them are showing color and should bloom soon. Very frustrating. I'm blaming it on the terrible summer and leaving it at that.

In regards to ratty, stick like plants: I have a few of those too this summer - not all - just some. In my case, those plants are probably located in one of the hottest parts of my garden and the soil isn't the best either. Maybe that has something to do with it? It's always been my understanding mums need regular fertilizer to do well and I've been trying to do that, but maybe not enough??

All in all, I think it's been a bad summer for mums. Maybe if it cools down things will go better, but I heard a long range forecast yesterday saying this heat and drought could last through Halloween. Halloween?? We had one of our biggest snowstorms on Halloween!! Depressing....

Kevin


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RE: Mum pinching help

i used to pinch.. 6/1 .. 7/1 .. 8/1 .. and maybe 9/1 ...

if you pinched them back a month ago.. and they have again set flower.. in 30 days.. then why are you thinking you dont have time to pinch again ... until fall flower ... eh???

w/o pix.. its hard to know why yours look a certain way ... but if you remove 60% of the canopy.. by pinching back.. why are you surprised.. they look like sticks..??? .. its kinda the whole idea ...

either enjoy the blooms.. or pinch them back.. but dont worry about it all ...

in MI.. nothing else is blooming in October.. so we want them to bloom then ... blooming now.. its just another flower..

blooming then .. they are a sad farwell to this summer [or perhaps this year.. thank God.. lol] .. and a last hope to get us motivated for next year ...

ken


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RE: Mum pinching help

Ken

In my case, some of the mums which were pinched just didn't respond with new growth the way others did. Hence the "stick" like appearance. I still think it's related to not the best soil, need for more fertilizer and the heat. I'll pinch again this weekend, fertilize and see what happens.

Kevin


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RE: Mum pinching help

Thanks for all the quick responses! These mums are at least three years old if not four, so I do think they are well-enough established (sorry - wasn't clear - they were spring-planted, just not THIS spring!). Unfortunately, this is not just a problem this year (although it may be worse!) but this is what happens every year.

I guess I should have clarified that they don't just look like cr*p immediately after cutting back, but they look like cr*p all season, lol! Well, okay, maybe they look a bit better as time goes by, but nothing like the big full plants you get in the fall. I know, I know, those are grown specifically to look so great at that time, and I don't have the time or desire to devote that level of care, but mine shouldn't be looking as bad as they do all season.

It's not that I necessarily mind having them look this way now, but they never really recover, and last year (and I'm afraid this year) the blooms weren't all that great, either in number or appearance, so I'm thinking that the way they are now has something to do with reduced bloom.

Ken, there is no way I am removing 60% percent of the plant! ... but am I supposed to? Because I'm only cutting off approximately the top two inches. If the plant is, say, 10 inches tall when I do that, there is still plenty of foliage left when I cut - and then it seems to brown, curl, droop, disappear(??) and generally look ratty. And yes, I am surprised because this isn't at all what I read is supposed to happen. I never got the impression from my research that the whole idea was for them to look like sticks, lol.

And, the reason I am thinking I don't have time to pinch because everything I've read on the subject says the last time to pinch is July. Which is why I'm here looking for real-life experience as to whether I can still pinch and get blooms.

So, I'm going to go ahead and cut back again. And I guess long-term, I need to pay more attention to the cultural needs of these guys and see what I can do to help them out. I never have the time I'd like in the garden, so most problems are my fault (i.e. neglect).

I don't know, sometimes it seems that gardening was easier when I knew less about it than I do now, lol! Not that I claim to know a whole lot now, but ten years ago cluelessly sticking those potted mums I bought in September in the un-amended ground in November seemed fool-proof...

Thanks guys,
Dee


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RE: Mum pinching help

There is no hard and fast date by which all mums must be pinched. The reason July 4 is given as a final pinch date is so the plant has time to form buds and bloom before the first frost. In the Southern U.S., you can pinch considerably later than July 4 and still get a nice bloom before frost. It is normal for the plant to look ratty after you pinch but it should recover nicely. You have to experiment to see which final pinch date works best for your region.


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RE: Mum pinching help

I'm no professional mum grower here, but I have to ask why is everyone pinching their mums?

Back in the day mums were a tall plant that bloomed on 3-4 foot single stem stalks.... if not pinched. Then the cushion mums and korean mums came along and over the next couple years mum breeders developed nice short cultivars that in my opinion no longer need pinching. Also btw, most mums today seem less day length sensitive, hence the forming of buds now and not in August/September. I used to have mums that no matter what wouldn't set a bud or branch until October... and then usually freeze the next week.

I think mum pinching is one of those bits of pass-along garden advice that might need to be retired. If they are getting too tall just move them further back in the border, just like you would any other perennial.

I think fall asters are following the same path. All you see in the garden centers now are the real dwarfed varieties.


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RE: Mum pinching help

Kato

I'm pinching because of the early bud formation problem - that's it. Some years I have this problem. Some years I don't. I agree they may not be as daylight sensitive as they once were, but according to the commercial mum grower I contacted, they can be temperature sensitive. That means early season swings in temps can set in motion the plants desire to produce buds earlier than normal.

I don't want mums blooming in July. I just don't. They are still my top favorite plant for fall color, so I'm generally motivated to put the extra effort into bud elimination this time of year.

Kevin

Kevin


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RE: Mum pinching help

I pinch to reduce the overall height of the mum at flowering time. Without pinching it flops terribly when it is in bloom.


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RE: Mum pinching help

diggerdee wrote: they all look scraggly; little groups of sticks with rather ratty leaves.

Here is my second year 'MATCHSTICK' mum plant as of today. (I did pinch it back a bit about a month ago...late June maybe?)


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RE: Mum pinching help

Yup! That's about what mine look like, rouge! Some better, some worse. Again, while I don't particularly like this look, it's more the effect on the plant/bloom that I worry about.

Yes, kato, like Kevin, I pinch because I don't want my mums blooming in July either. I don't know, maybe I should face the fact that these plants want to bloom now, and find something else for fall blooms. It's just that to me, mums have always been a fall flower, and that was how I planned the garden around them.

And, cutting them back does help reduce the floppiness too, but that is secondary for me.

Mistascott wrote: "...The reason July 4 is given as a final pinch date is so the plant has time to form buds and bloom before the first frost..." Exactly. That's what I've always read (including advice given here on these forums) and so that's why I asked if I would still get blooms if I cut back again now.

Guess I'll find out! Cut back the mums again today. A few buds showed quite a bit of color and seemed about ready to open already! We'll see - but I have a feeling that if this weather keeps up, I may need - or want - to cut back again, because cutting back now will still probably produce buds that want to open in August or early September.

Maybe I should have just cut back now and waited to ask this till question till August - because I will be asking the same thing then - is it too late to cut back? LOL.

Dee


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RE: Mum pinching help

The main reasons people pinch are, as others have mentioned, for bloom time control and height control. Also, pinched (or sheared) mums tend to branch more and produce more blooms. You can also dis-bud lateral buds to produce larger terminal buds. Ultimately, whether you should pinch comes down to your personal preference, your location, and the cultivar(s) you have. Though there is a widespread belief that you must pinch, you need not.


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RE: Mum pinching help

pffft, I thought this post was going to be rather more salacious than cutting chrysanthemums - certainly, in my head was a clear picture of a rosy-cheeked apple pie mother, importuning some quivering workman, maybe wearing satin boxer shorts with a large and useful looking tool.

But maybe that's just me.....


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RE: Mum pinching help

campanula - At first I thought "What is this person talking about??" Then I got it. Very good indeed. Thanks.

Kevin


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RE: Mum pinching help

Dear Abby,

Me mum pinches every man who comes to the house to do work. The carpenter, the painter, the gardener - you name it, she's pinching! It's quite embarrassing and we're not sure how to handle it. We are scheduled to have the vicar over to bless a family gathering and we are worried about what Mum may do. Please advise.

signed,
Help with Pinching Mum

Is that better, campanula? More what you were expecting, lol?

;)
Dee


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RE: Mum pinching help

I think this year all bets are off. My mum "Beth" is blooming already, as is a little, button mum that I took from my parents house years ago. My neighbor said that one of her mums is blooming as well.

Beth is a shorter type of mum that I don't have to pinch to keep small and so is my parent's off white button mum. I plan on dead-heading the flowers as soon as they are finished and will be hoping for more flowers later in the year.

I also have two reblooming irises in full bloom right now - Immortality and Juris Prudence. I know they have never rebloomed this early in the summer. I wonder what is going to start blooming here next????

Linda


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RE: Mum pinching help

Linda, seems everything is incredibly early this year, huh? I was surprised to see those wild helianthus (like my helianthus microcephalus) in bloom along the road yesterday, when they usually bloom in September. Then I came home and saw that a tall rudbeckia I have (I think Herbstonne, but I'm not sure - something similar, if not) was in bloom! This never blooms this early for me.

Dee


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RE: Mum pinching help

Yes, it seems everything is early. I was surprised to see joe pye weed blooming alongside the wild sunflowers you saw.

btw, didn't see that thread shift coming. Satin boxers, pinching and big tools......

Those leafy mum-sticks look pretty sad Rouge, I can see why you'd like to shape them up a bit. Could it be lack of sun?

My mums have been forming buds since last month at least, but most don't seem to fill out and open until fall. They always do that, although this year they are much earlier and there are two or three on one purple that are opening up into deformed half blooms. I do pinch those sad little things off.


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RE: Mum pinching help

If I did not pinch both mums ans asters, they would all be laying on the ground when in bloom. Al


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RE: Mum pinching help

diggerdee wrote: Yup! That's about what mine look like, rouge! Some better, some worse. Again, while I don't particularly like this look, it's more the effect on the plant/bloom that I worry about.

Well I can tell you that I wouldnt do the 'pinch' if the blooms suffered and I can tell you they dont for this MATCHSTICK mum. It helps delay flowering and more importantly for me reduces the eventual height and so allows for a more upright plant when it is top heavy with flowers.


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RE: Mum pinching help

Dee, I listen to a radio gardening show out of the Cincinnati, Ohio area and I heard the host saying that right now everything is 4 weeks ahead and it has been that since gardening season began this year. If it stays that way, by the end of September, I won't have anything blooming here at all!

Linda


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RE: Mum pinching help

Looking back at responses I hope no one thought I was implying that any mum pinching was a silly waste of time. I just wanted to point out that my generic pots of mums bought in the fall are all newer cultivars that don't need pinching.
Most of the fall mums around here are started in pots in June and just sit there on drip irrigation till they bloom in the fall. No pinching done, just space them enough so they grow up and out into nice full pots.

I was actually considering pinching mine earlier in the year. Since they were a couple weeks ahead due to the non-winter I was going to pinch (actually chop) them all the way to the ground in June so they wouldn't overgrow. But like many of my good intentions in springtime it kind of faded away.... partly because I know I would have taken all the tops and rooted them as cuttings and filled half the veggie garden with chrysanthemums.


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RE: Mum pinching help

Linda, I was just thinking exactly that this morning! I was walking through the garden and wondering what would be left to bloom in fall!

Kato, you made me laugh - "...partly because I know I would have taken all the tops and rooted them as cuttings..." Oh my, sometimes I think it's a curse how I can't get rid of anything, whether it's a loose screw, the odd piece of twine, or a cutting, lol. Can't compost those cuttings - gotta root them! I've done it with mums, and I've done it with montauk daisies. I'm getting better with my ruthlessness - I need to go back to the "keep or not to keep" thread to re-fortify myself, lol!

Dee


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RE: Mum pinching help

kato_b wrote: Those leafy mum-sticks look pretty sad Rouge, I can see why you'd like to shape them up a bit. Could it be lack of sun?

It is possible that more sun would help to improve foliage fullness but having said that I do get good blooms come September and at that time the sparser greenery is less of an issue.


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RE: Mum pinching help

I saw matchstick last fall and really liked it. Sometimes I think mums are too full with blooms and you lose the grace of individual flowers, they are great big globs of color (which is nice on your doorstep) but those quilled blooms just look better imo when you can appreciate them individually.


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RE: Mum pinching help

  • Posted by corrine1 7b Pacific Northwest (My Page) on
    Wed, Jul 25, 12 at 12:55

Varieties do matter. Some are more cushion like.

You could try cutting back by 1/2 water & mulch to encourage the plant to recover more quickly. Also your choice of complete fertilizer in 1/2 dosage every 2 weeks, so as not to over do it.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques


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