Garden Q&A: Pinching mums a necessity
Q: I would like to know if I should cut back my mums. They get so tall, and when they are in bloom, the plants separate and fall over.
A: Pinching your mums in early summer is a necessary chore for preventing the floppy plants you describe. It also serves to delay their bloom time by a few weeks and enables you to have a colorful garden well into the fall.
Here's how to do it: Head out to the garden on a dry morning (working in wet conditions can spread foliar diseases) sometime before July 4. Pinching mums much later than the Fourth delays the blooming so much that you may not get any flowers at all. I usually do mine in mid- to late June.
Remove one-third to one-half of the total height of each stem by either cutting it off with a clean pair of pruners or “pinching” it off between the pad of your index finger and your thumbnail. Though it may seem drastic to remove so much of the growth, the new shoots that emerge create a stockier, shorter plant that is better able to support the flowers. Pinching also yields more flowers because each of the terminal stem portions you remove creates two new stems — each of which will produce flower buds.
Commercial mum growers complete the pinching process two or even three times to create the gorgeous pots of mums gracing garden centers every fall.
Though it isn't an appropriate practice for all perennials, there are a handful of other plants that benefit from an early summer haircut. Performing the same pinching process on some or all of the stems of the following perennials also serves to create stockier plants with more flowers: Garden phlox, monarda, asters, fall-blooming sedums, veronica, ironweed, balloon flower and goldenrods.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to email@example.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail
- Ex-Steelers QB Batch creates sports medicine startup at Pitt
- WVU frat pledge had fatal blood alcohol level more than 6 times legal limit
- Pitt adds Texas wide receiver as 16th commitment to Class of 2015
- Supporters optimistic about passage of medical marijuana
- Crosby understands rule prohibiting him from playing, stresses he is hurt
- Woman who made bomb threat at Bellevue bank in custody
- Long-term solution for wastewater disposal eludes shale gas industry
- Pittsburgh cracks down on overcrowded houses
- LeBeau won’t join Cardinals coaching staff
- Fayette man allegedly exposed self to Charleroi children