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Tips for Raising Mums

From VOA Learning English, this is the Agriculture Report in Special English. People have been growing chrysanthemums for more than 2,000 years. Mums make bright and colorful gardens. People in China and other Asian cultures make tea with the flowers.

Giacomo Puccini, the great Italian composer, even named one of his works after chrysanthemums, "Crisantemi." One basic kind of mum is the hardy or garden mum. The other basic kind is the florist mum. The garden mum is better able to handle different growing conditions. The decorative mum is often seen in gardens.

Another popular type, the quill mum, has long, straight petals like a tube or needle. Chrysanthemum blooms can be white, yellow, gold, red or other colors. Many of the plants grow to one meter high. The soil for chrysanthemums should be kept moist but well drained. Mums grow best in full sunlight. They produce colorful blooms when days get shorter and nights get longer.

The life cycle of the plant depends on the amount of daylight. This is why experts advise against placing mums near nightlights or streetlights. The light may interfere with their normal growth cycle. As a result, the plants may develop buds too soon. In climates where temperatures fall below freezing, plant mums at least six weeks before the first frost is expected.

That way, the plants will be well established for cold weather. To get more blooms, pinch back the branches when new growth has reached 15 centimeters. Squeeze about five to seven centimeters off each branch. Pinch it again when a branch grows another 12 to 15 centimeters. Stop the pinching about 100 days before you want the plants to bloom.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 19Feb2013).