Every year, my hardy chrysanthemums start blooming in early July, even though I pinch them back. Am I doing something wrong? —Kim Scott, Ada, Michigan
It's funny—most northern gardeners worry their chrysanthemums won't bloom before the snow flies in fall!
Pinching chrysanthemums yields compact, bushy plants with more blooms. But, in most cases, it also delays blooming.
Gardeners in areas with a long growing seaon should pinch their mums until mid-July or the first of August. Gardeners in shorter-season areas should stop pinching in late June to early July.
Pinching your plants is easy. Simply remove the top inch or two of new growth once or twice a month to keep plants 6 inches tall. Pinching your plants twice monthly discourages leggy growth. Keep the soil slightly moist, not wet, and keep plants fertilized properly to avoid stress that may induce blooming too early.