New Queen Of The Fall Garden
It's mid August, hotter than a two-dollar pistol and both you and your landscape
plants have the late-summer doldrums. This means it is much too early to
plant pansies (they will stretch badly in the heat) but Old Man Summer has
hammered most of the earlier planted annuals to a frazzle. Is there a shining
knight that can rescue you from these doldrums? You bet there is and it's
called a mari-mum.
The name mari-mum is derived from a combination of the terms marigold and
chrysanthemum and denotes large-flowered American marigolds which possess
a similar flower form and are used as a fall crop like chrysanthemums.
The marigolds which best fit this concept are hybrids characterized by earlier
blooming, larger flowers and high levels of uniformity.
Their Attributes Abound
Several years of testing by Texas Agricultural Extension Service horticulturists
in both south and north central Texas have revealed many desirable attributes
exhibited by mari-mums. For example, they:
When compared to fall-planted chrysanthemums, mari-mums:
- Are very low maintenance for a flowering annual
- Are extremely easy to grow (almost foolproof when planted in a well-drained
soil in full sun)
- Produce more blossoms and retain better blossom color as a fall crop
- Possess tremendous visual impact, even at a distance.
- Will bloom 2-3 times longer
- Their open blossoms are more resistant to wind and rain
- Are less expensive to produce which gives you more bang for your gardening
Spider Mites Not A Problem!
At this point many of you are thinking how beautiful mari-mums will be as
a fall crop but you're worried that spider mites, the arch enemy of marigolds,
will make their ugly presence known.
Spider mites love hot weather but their rate of reproduction is greatly
reduced by cool fall temperatures. By first removing any mite-infested
plants from the flower bed and then planting fresh marigold transplants
in mid August, you can avoid significant mite injury, all without the use
The super mari-mum cultivars currently recommended are 'Discovery Yellow'
and 'Discovery Orange', dwarf plants 8-10 inches in height, and 'Voyager
Yellow', a somewhat larger cultivar at 14-16 inches in height.
Mari-Mum Culture At A Glance
- Transplant in mid August for the longest period of spectacular bloom.
Purchase transplants with foliage only or in bud, but not in full bloom.
Transplants in full bloom at planting devote all of their energy to supporting
that tremendous bloom load and thus have little energy left for proper establishment
- Plant in full sun (i.e. at least 8-10 hours per day).
- Must have good soil drainage. To achieve this, incorporate 4-6 inches
of organic material (compost, hay, straw, peat moss, etc.) and plant on
- Fertilizer requirements: While tilling in the organic material, also
incorporate fertilizer based on results of a soil test. If test results
are not available, apply 1-2 pounds of a slow-release lawn fertilizer (many
of which contain sulfur-coated urea) per 100 sq. ft. of bed area.
- Space transplants of 'Discovery Yellow' and 'Discovery Orange' 8 inches
apart, 'Voyager Yellow' 12 inches apart. Mulch entire bed after planting
to reduce water consumption and weed competition.
- Water in thoroughly at planting. For the first week after planting,
new transplants may need to be watered almost daily. Thereafter, water
only when top inch of soil is dry (check with your finger every 5-7 days).
Established mari-mums can be killed by watering too frequently. For example,
every other day for established plants is too often!
- Mari-mums have such visual impact, even at a distance, that they're
a wonderful choice for mass planting in the accent corner of the backyard.
Such a planting along the front edge of a bed, backed by amass of evergreen
or deciduous shrubs, is truly striking.
- 'Discovery Yellow' and 'Discovery Orange', with their small size and
neat, compact growth habit, are perfect for edging walkways and garden paths.
- Mari-mums do extremely well in containers. Ensure adequate number of
drain holes, fill with loose, open potting mix, then add slow-release fertilizer.
Place container in full sun. Water weekly with a water-soluble house plant
fertilizer. Then sit back and get ready to enjoy the beauty, drama and
excitement that truly outstanding fall annuals can provide!
Aggie Horticulture | Texas Superstar TM