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Gardening & More: Mum's the word – announcing the flower for November

FLOWER CHILD — Lavish displays of mums, including many that cannot be seen in outdoor gardens, will be on exhibit through Nov. 10, at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. The mum is the birthday flower for November. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko
HAMBURG — If your birthday falls in November, your flower is the chrysanthemum, which comes in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes and colors.

Check out the Chrysanthemum Show at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, located at 2655 South Park Ave., from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 19 – Nov. 10.

Adult, child, senior citizen and student tickets may be purchased at the door. Admission is free for Botanical Gardens members and children younger than 3.

These flowers come in all shapes and sizes, from round, yellow pompoms to huge, bronze footballs.

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

All chrysanthemum classes have both types of florets. However, in many of the 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 varieties are indoor mums that will not grow in your backyard; they need a greenhouse.

Many 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.

“Standard” mums have been trained to grow tree-like, with a single flower atop a very tall stem; they can grow to 8 or 9 feet.

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

The chrysanthemum was cultivated as a flowering herb in China as far back as the 15th century B.C.

Generations of Western New Yorkers have long 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 the publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.

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