Wow! Thanksgiving is almost here again. Everyone is getting excited about eating plenty of turkey, pecan pie, and all that good stuffing. How about dressing up the season on your dining table with a colorful, attractive center piece? My recommendation would be a vibrant, fall-colored Pelee mum. It will be the envy of everyone’s table, right next to that lovely bird. Here’s a little bit about growing this great Thanksgiving gift plant.
Temperature – Although Pelee mums can tolerate a large range of temperatures, they are happiest with a constant temperature in the range of 65º-70° F. Use your own sense of temperature as a guideline for your plants. If you are comfortable, your Pelee mums will be comfortable as well.
Location – Avoid placing your Pelee mums in direct sunlight or deep shadows. A location in a nice bright room is ideal. A minimum of 12 hours of light (daily) will greatly increase the longevity of your potted Pelee mums.
Fertilization – Pelee mums should not require any additional fertilizer while in the home. Commercial production of potted Pelee mums is a very specialized process resulting in optimum levels of nutrition in both the leaves and the soil of your plant. There is more than enough nutrition available to your potted Pelee mums to see it through its useful life over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Watering – Pelee mums require a good amount of water to maintain optimum health. Allowing the plants to dry to the point of wilting will decrease longevity considerably. There are several rules of thumb to use when applying water in a home environment:
1. Gauge the weight of the plant after irrigation. In a few days, lift the plant again. If the pot feels much lighter than previously, it is usually a good indicator that the plant needs irrigation.
2. Place your finger on the top layer of soil and press down slightly. If the soil feels dry to the touch, it is probably a good idea to go ahead and water again.
3. If the leaves begin to droop slightly and they feel soft to the touch, the plant is beginning to wilt. It is very important to apply water immediately at this stage.
4. When irrigating your potted plant, irrigate thoroughly. Wet the entire root ball and allow the excess water to leach through the holes in the bottom of your pot. This will help to maintain healthy roots, while eliminating any excess fertilizer salts that may be accumulating near the bottom of your pot.
5. Never allow your pot to sit in a container of water. This is one of the quickest ways to destroy your roots. Once the roots are gone, the top of the plant will soon follow.
If you would like to place a saucer under your pot, try placing a half inch or so of pea gravel or large aquarium gravel in the bottom. Place your Pelee mum on top of the stones. This will keep your pot off the bottom of the saucer and away from any harmful salts or excess water. A small amount of water in the saucer can help to increase the humidity around the plant as well.
Decorative Wraps – If your Pelee mum was purchased with a decorative wrap, consider the following options when irrigating:
1. Remove the pot from the wrap, irrigate until no excess water drains from the bottom of the pot and then replace the pot in its decorative wrap.
2. Poke a few holes in the bottom of the wrap to allow excess irrigation water to escape.
This information should help you maintain your Pelee mums for at least a couple of weeks, until it’s time to replace them with those gorgeous poinsettia plants of the Christmas season.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, and please, have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
Remember, Learn and Have Fun!
David Rodriguez is the County Extension Agent-Horticulture for Bexar County. He represents Texas Cooperative Extension with the Texas A&M University System. For any landscape or gardening information, call the Bexar County Master Gardeners Hotline at (210) 467-6575, e-mail questions to email@example.com, or visit our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu/.
Special Note: Listen live broadcast of the Home & Garden Show with David Rodriguez and Bill Rohde on WOAI 1200 AM, every Saturday morning, between 8:00-11:00 a.m., and call in your gardening questions at (210-737-1200 or 1-800-383-9624). Check it out!