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Mari-mums can add as big of a splash of color as chrysanthemums, but if planted in the late summer or early fall, mari-mum flowers will last through Halloween and even Thanksgiving, according to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension service horticulturists.
Enjoy chrysanthemum color that lasts two or three times longer
COLLEGE STATION -- Got the fading late summer/fall garden blues as everything seems to be turning gray and brown?
Mari-mums, the latest Texas Superstar promotion, might give your garden that shot of bright, showy color it needs, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Research horticulturist.
“The main selling point of mari-mums is that they have good color throughout the fall,” said Dr. Brent Pemberton, AgriLife Research horticulturist and chair of the Texas Superstar executive board. “As compared to chrysanthemums -- which may flower for several weeks if the weather is cool -- mari-mums will flower for the entire fall season, until it frosts.”
To be designated a Texas Superstar, a plant must not just be beautiful but also perform well for consumers and growers throughout Texas. Superstars must also be easy to propagate, which should ensure the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas but also reasonably priced, he said. Mari-mums fit the Texas Superstar bill perfectly.
“The flowers last two to three times longer than chrysanthemums, are inexpensive, and don’t require the constant pinching and pruning,” he said. “In case you are worried about the spider mites normally associated with marigolds, you can put your worries to rest. By planting mari-mums in late August to early September, cooler autumn temperatures greatly reduce spider mite pressure.”
What are mari-mums?
You won’t find “mari-mums” in Webster’s dictionary, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension horticulture agent in Bexar County and member of the Texas Superstar board. This is because they are a relatively new kind of marigold.
“Most people recognize the traditional chrysanthemums or fall garden mum,” Rodriguez said. “But mari-mums are really marigolds. It’s a large, blooming Africanized marigold with chrysanthemum-like flowers. Thus, we came up with the name, ‘mari-mum.’”
Mari-mums go by many different names, he said, including “fall marigolds,” “African marigolds,” “large blooming marigolds,” and others.
There’s one gardening recommendation that came out of the late 1980s research that has been consistently hard to convince people to follow, Rodriguez said. If gardeners buy transplants that have big blooms, the first thing they should do after replanting is to pinch off the big blooms.
“If you can, buy healthy, nice-looking transplants that are budded but have no flowers on them,” he said. “If you purchase transplants with big flowers on them, then at least you’re sure you know what color you’re getting, but if you leave that big flower on them, you’ll stunt them.”
He said the pruned plants will produce new flowers in two or three weeks at the most. And in most of Texas, if planted in August to mid-September, the flowers will last well into Halloween and Thanksgiving.
Speaking of Halloween, orange marigolds or mari-mums are traditionally used as decorations for the Mexican version of the holiday, the Day of the Dead, or D’a de los Muertos, Rodriguez said.
The holiday, which is celebrated Nov. 1-2, is a joyous event to remember and pay respect to friends and family members who have passed, he said. Marigolds, known as “maravillas” in Spanish, with their bright, cheery colors, are traditionally used as cut-flower decorations during the celebrations, particularly the orange shades, as they are associated with fall harvest.
Robert Burns has nearly 30 years’ experience writing about agriculture and agricultural-related research. He writes about Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service activities at the Overton Center and centers in Stephenville and Temple.
Mari-mums, Texas Superstar program
Mari-mums are such a good fit for the Texas Superstar program, the 2013 promotion is actually the second time around for the plant. The first Texas Superstar promotion was Texas Bluebonnets in the fall of 1989, followed in the fall of 1990 with mari-mums, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, AgriLife Research horticulturist and chair of the Texas Superstar executive board.
Along with Pemberton, other Texas Superstar board members include Dr. Cynthia McKenney of Lubbock, Dr. Mike Arnold of College Station, Dr. Larry Stein of Uvalde, Dr. Dan Lineberger of College Station, and Dr. Tim Davis of College Station.
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
More information about the Texas Superstar program can be found at http://www.texassuperstar.com/.
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