Mumsy marigolds thrill with unique look

McClatchy NewspapersJuly 16, 2010 

Mumsy marigold may just be the perfect mari-mum. If you are not familiar with the term mari-mum it came about as a result if of research at Texas A&M University in the early 90’s. They proved that the large African marigolds when planted in late summer gave a look similar to fall mums, except larger and bloomed longer, right up until frost.

Mumsy is a new series of marigold that comes in orange, yellow and gold and looks more like a mum than any marigold in the market place. These are large 4-inch wide flowers with curly frilly outer petals that make you envision mums.

Traditionally, marigolds are grown in the spring and summer, but thanks in part to the A&M research many gardeners plant them for fall. This time of the year in warmer parts of the country marigolds have a propensity to get spider mites. This causes many gardeners to get fed up and vow to never plant them again. The A&M research showed that late August planted marigolds did not develop this problem as the plants grew and headed toward cooler temperatures of fall.

Progressive garden centers often bring in a fresh crop of transplants in August and September. If yours doesn’t, you can rest easy knowing that in the gardening world, marigolds are among the easiest annuals to grow from seed. So place your order for seeds now and you’ll be in prime shape for fall planting.

When planting Mumsy marigolds select a sunny well-drained location. Prepare the soil by tilling in a 2 or 3-inch layer of compost if needed. Compost is especially helpful on soils that have high sand or clay content. To feed your plants, consider adding a controlled release fertilizer according to the product label. I like to use about 2 pounds per 100 square feet of planting area.

The next thing to remember when planting Mumsy marigolds is the color blue or violet. These are the best complementary colors. If you are growing the oranges or gold ones, then blue is the best choice as a companion plant. If you are growing the yellow then violet-to-purple colors may be the best.

They will reach about 14 inches tall and are the perfect choice for planting in front of tall fall blooming salvias like the Mexican bush sage, the Mystic Spires Blue or Victoria Blue. Use them in also in combination with ornamental grasses many of which reach their peak in autumn. Don’t forget that the oranges and yellows also work well together. This is called an analogous color scheme.

The next critical thing is to plant enough to make a show. One jumbo six pack will simply not do the plant justice. They perform extraordinarily well in mixed containers so you have permission to use a smaller quantity in this circumstance.

To keep that flower production at full speed, feed with light applications of a 12-6-6 or balanced fertilizer about every six weeks. Deadheading the old flowers will keep them looking tidy and the flower production higher.

Mumsy marigolds promise to thrill you. They will be blooming before your mums start in the fall and will still be showing out when your mums are through. You can’t beat that value for this workhorse of a plant.

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