With some mulching this fall and pinching next spring, your hardy mums will provide perennial color.
Chrysanthemums fill a perfect niche this time of year. They provide late summer and early fall color. They flower right up until the first frost. And for folks who don't have extra time to tend to their late summer gardens, mums don't require a ton of care.
If you're considering chrysanthemums, head to your favorite local garden center for shopping and selection, as chrysanthemums that you might find in a florist shop tend to be less hardy.
The sorts you should scope out are garden chrysanthemums. These will do well in Vermont's conditions.
And when it comes to shape and hue, your choices are many. Some chrysanthemums are shaped like sea anemones, others have petals that are spoon-shaped or spider-shaped and you'll find oranges, yellows, pinks and burgundies.
And these fall garden mum flowers are technically perennials. Certain types within this set are hardier than others. Based on where you're located, choose the right sort that will thrive in the conditions.
Garden mums which will do particularly well in Zone 4 conditions like in our region, try types that grow well in similar climate. Some include the Favorite series, the Morden series from Canada, or the type called Peach Centerpiece. Or try Rose Blush from Minnesota and Hillside Sheffield Pink . These grow well in cooler conditions like those that Vermont's late summer and autumn deliver.
Though chrysanthemums are faily low-maintenance, do note that garden mums planted as perennials are still a bit finicky. Give them the best chance of thriving by ensuring they will have well-drained soil and full sun. If you find a spot in your garden or border where they thrive, keep them there!
As for seasonal care, in November, cut them back and then mulch them heavily. This will help the mums get through the winter. Then next spring, as they pop up, give them a little fertilizer then pinch them vigorously every few weeks. This will help you get that nice dense mat of flowers on the top.
Q: I have egg sacks on my first-year asparagus fronds. I planted the crowns in May. They started out looking like green spittle. And then they turned into solid brown egg masses that totally surrounds the stem. This is happening in my garden in northern Wisconsin. I've never seen anything similar on my asparagus in Vermont. Do you know what is laying these eggs? - Ann, in Wisconsin
A: Not knowing with certainty what might be laying these egg masses means you could assess it in another way: if the egg masses are not causing any harm and the ferns are growing well above and below, don't worry too much about it!
If it seems like they are suffering a little bit, cut back those ferns, and destroy them or take them out of the garden area, in case it is something that could affect other plants.
Q: I want to move some hostas to make room for other perennial plants. What's the best time of year to transfer hosta plants? Now or in the spring? - Bern, in Middlebury
A: You can move hostas any time! Whether they are in full flower on a 90-degree summer day or on a cooler autumn day, hostas are very tolerant and sturdy when moving them.
Ideally, though, the best time would be in the spring. If you can wait till then, when the hostas first start coming out of the ground, divide them into clumps, put them in a nice shady spot and keep them well watered.
Q: We have a little backyard garden in the Old North End and a very enthusiastic trumpet vine. It's pretty but we're finding shoots of it all over the yard. I know it's from underground root systems. But is there any way to stop it from taking over? - Nancy, in Burlington
A: Just keep cutting those trumpet vine shoots as you see them popping up. If they are showing up around the yard, just keep mowing them down. That will help exhaust them.
Another method to try is to do some root pruning around the trumpet vine itself. Depending on how big the vine is, start maybe a foot or two away from the the actual trunk of the trumpet vine. Then take a shovel or hoe and prune the roots there.
You could even put a metal or plastic barrier down to prevent more roots from encroaching into the lawn.
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