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Gardening and More: Mums are the flower for November

MUM’S THE WORD ­— Lavish displays of mums, including many you won’t see in outdoor gardens, will be on exhibit from today through Nov. 10 at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The mum is the birthday flower for November. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko.

If your birthday falls in November, your flower is the chrysanthemum, which comes in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colors. No matter when your birthday is, check out the lavish displays at the Chrysanthemum Show at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, located at 2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo.

The show starts Oct. 19 and runs through Nov. 10. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.

Tickets can be purchased at the door. Prices are $9 for adults; $8 for seniors, ages 55 and older, and students, ages 13 and older; $5 for children ages 3-12 and free for Botanical Gardens members and children younger than 3.

These flowers come in all shapes and sizes, from round pom-poms in pale yellow to huge, bronze footballs.

What looks like a flower on a mum is actually hundreds of small flowers called florets. The chrysanthemum has two types of florets. The ray florets would be called petals on a daisy, and disk florets are the center florets in a daisy-type of bloom.

All classes of chrysanthemums have both types of florets. However, in many classes, the disk florets are not apparent. Since only the disk florets can reproduce, the plant breeder uses a pair of scissors to uncover the disk florets for pollination and the development of new cultivars.

Many of the varieties you’ll see in the show are indoor mums and won’t grow in your backyard; you would need a greenhouse to grow them.

Many of the mums are trained to grow into certain shapes. Some are “cascades,” which, with a little extra help from wire netting, flow over the side of a pot. Others are “bowls” and grow with a domed shape.

Still others are “standard” mums, which means they have been trained to grow tree-like, with a single flower atop a very tall stem. They can grow to 8 or 9 feet.

To create standard mums, gardeners start in April with bush mums and keep pruning off the extra buds. A stake gives the stem support. By pruning away competing blossoms, the plant’s energy is directed to the single blossom, and that produces a much larger flower.

The chrysanthemum has been enjoyed for thousands of years. It was cultivated as a flowering herb in China, as far back as the 15th century B.C.

Generations of Western New Yorkers have been enjoying chrysanthemums, too. The annual Chrysanthemum Show, which has been held for more than a century, is the longest-running tradition at the Botanical Gardens.

Take part in tradition by visiting the Chrysanthemum Show at the Botanical Gardens.

Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.


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