Sunday, January 31, 2010
The King of Mums
After a half-century of cultivating color smiles, Clements nursery selling stock
News-Sentinel Staff Writer
On the outskirts of town, where the lowlands of the Mokelumne give way to golden rolling hills, there is a secret that will soon be a fond memory.
King's Mums, a nursery on Liberty Road specializing in chrysanthemum flowers that was started in 1954, will be closing its doors to the public.
In 1945, Ted King finished his stint with the U.S. Navy and went to work for a pest control company in Castro Valley. In his spare time, King discovered the chrysanthemum, and the colorful puffy flower began to grow on him. Much more than a hobby was born.
The cheerful and amiable King started cultivating many different mums and opened a mail order business in 1954 that he operated when he wasn't plying the pest control trade. He sent out his first official catalog — a copy of which he still has — in 1967. Business began to blossom.
As the decades passed and '80s arrived, King says the California Department of Transportation approached him, saying they needed his Castro Valley property. The decision was made to move to Clements, where King and his little family bought 20 acres and began to build.
The Kings built their home and business, which included greenhouses for the mums. The year was 1982 when they opened their current doors.
These days, King's Mums welcomes all its visitors to come in and peruse their abundant inventory of white, yellow, pink and just about every color of mum available — except blue. King says he believes scientists are working to create a blue chrysanthemum.
"People come here and say, 'My Lord, what have I missed? Here's an entire group of mums I didn't know existed,'" King said. He admitted that it's easy to get hooked on the vibrant plant, because it's so simple to grow. Even if neglected by the gardener, King said they will still grow and sometimes thrive. And though they get customers stopping by to purchase their mums directly from the nursery, King says they also get tours of seniors from retirement homes from places such as Menlo Park coming in just to enjoy the scenery.
With 150 to 200 varieties of chrysanthemums, there's a lot to enjoy. King's daughter, Lanna King, who is an equal partner in the business with her father, said it can be hard to keep track of them sometimes.
And not only do the mums come in different colors, they also come in different sizes.
"They can be as big as a human head," Lanna King said.
King's Mums have been featured in Sunset magazine many times, have earned Ted King numerous trophies and have given him years of enjoyment. But time has a way of bringing all flourishing things to a close.
Ted and Lanna King have sold the business name and inventory to an Oregon-based company, who will taking up the remaining stock in December. Even though the bulk of business takes place in the spring, both partners agreed that people wanting to visit or buy mums would need to do so before their final day, Nov. 30.
It's obvious that King's will be missed.
"It's like being in a candy store — there's too much good stuff," said Tracey Poore, of Lodi. She said her god-son, a wholesale florist, is going to be upset to hear of the closing, as he got all his mums from King's. Poore said when she tells him the news "he's going to faint."
The lackluster economic times, plus Ted King's multiple hip surgeries, drove the father and daughter to sell the business and move on to other endeavors.
Lanna King, 50, who is an avid and svelte bodybuilding competitor, is looking for a line of work that will offer her retirement benefits, possibly something in the state correctional system. Her father will keep on doing what he does best.
"This has been my hobby for so many years, I just can't stop or sit around and watch TV," said Ted King, who will stay rooted in growing his favorite flower.
King's Mums is located at 20303 E. Liberty Road in Clements. To reach them, call 759-3571.
Can I Grow All of These Mums in My Area?
All of our large, exhibition style varieties are as easy to grow as any ordinary chrysanthemum. They can be grown in ANY area if suitable protection from freezing can be provided.
Chrysanthemums are sun lovers, and can be grown in pots or in the ground, in a location which receives at least a half a day of sun.
In colder areas where the bloom season may be shortened by cold weather, potted mums should be moved to a protected area. In cold locations, chrysanthemums growing in the ground can be potted up in September and moved into a sheltered area. They suffer little setback with this procedure, and you can have beautiful blooms through Thanksgiving!
If you live in a hard freeze zone, choose varieties with earlier bloom dates. The bloom date for each variety is listed along with the description. The earliest bloomers are from September to mid October and include the Garden Cushion mums as well as some early blooming taller types, in the various classes. The bloom dates provided are based on central California, and can vary as much as two weeks depending on latitude and temperature. For instance, blooms will flower earlier in the northern latitudes and later in the South. Also, cool fall temperatures will hasten blooms, while prolonged heat will delay the bloom.
With just a few provisions, our customers have enjoyed beautiful fall chrysanthemums in climates as diverse as Arizona and Michigan!
Soil Preparation: Chrysanthemums will grow in almost any soil type. But, the addition of humis materials such as manure, compost, leaf mold, or peat moss is very beneficial. Superphosphate at the rate of 3 lbs. per 100 square feet isrecommended. Gypsum or Dolomite lime is also recommended at a rate of 10 lbs. per 100 square ft. Top
Planting: Shallow planting, no deeper that the plant was in its rooting mixture. Initial planting should be into small pots until established and growing well. Space 15 inches apart in all directions. Good drainage is most important.Top
Cutting Back: If your plants are more than 10" tall on July 1st, we recommend cutting back to 4" or 6", leaving some good green foliage or growth below the cut. The result will be shorter plants and better foliage at bloom time. On large flowered cultivars, select the most vigorous growth that results after the cut and make no further stops or pinches. Top
Pinching: When growth resumes after cutting back, removal of the very tip growing portion of the stem will promote more branching and flowers, and in some cases help determine bloom date. Large flowered types should not be pinched after July 5th. Small flowered types can be pinched up to Aug. 5th. An earlier pinch date will be necessary for September blooming types. Top
Lateral Removal: Large flowered types will only achieve their full potential of size and form if growth is restricted to several stems, three being an average. All side laterals or branches must be removed as they occur. Remove them when they are short and soft so they do not rob the stem and developing buds of potential growth. Top
Disbudding: Large flowered types will only reach their maximum size if flower buds are restricted one to a stem. For best results, remove all but the largest center bud in a terminal bud cluster when bud clusters are still very small. Terminal bud clusters will contain from 3 to as many as 5 buds. Crown buds which are the first to occur and are born singly, produce the earliest blooms. Top
Fertilizers: The regular use of a high Nitrogen and Potassium fertilizer will greatly increase flower size and numbers, We recommend incorporating a slow re-lease fertilizer such as Osmocote 14-14-14 at planting time plus a weekly feeding of a high analysis liquid fertilizer such as Rapid Grow, after August 1st and until flower buds show color. Change to a 10-10-10 fertilizer, or no fertilizer, after this date. Top
Insects and Disease: Careful monitoring of your insect population is important. Don't let development spread from a few plants. Spot treatment of individual plants, particularly in the case of aphids, can often prevent spread to a general infestation. Lack of thoroughness in treating the underside of leaves is usually the reason for rapid reinfestation. Don't use the same type of insecticide more than three successive times or insects may become resistant. Soap and light oil spray are quite effective, but the target insect or mite must be contacted to be effective. Don't use soap sprays on blooms. Top
Winter Care: Chrysanthemums on the whole are not entirely winter hardy in areas of hard freeze. In cold winter areas, dig up plants, prune back, and store in a protective area such as a cold frame, basement, or any area where they can be protected from freezing. If left in the ground, mulch heavily with straw, decomposed manure or similar materials. In warmer areas, don't be hasty to cut back old stems until signs of new growth begin at base of plant.Top
Chrysanthemum Cascade Culture
SELECTION OF CULTIVAR:
PLANTING TIME AND CONTAINER:
TRELLISED WIRE SUPPORT:
TRAINING AND PINCHING:
FEEDING AND WATERING:
Aphids will be the main problem. Establish a regular schedule of once a week spraying or dusting with a general purpose spray or rose dust until buds show color. After this time dust lightly only, or flower injury may occur. If insecticide resistance is encountered, change to an entirely different unrelated chemical or insecticidal compound.
King's Mums, 14857 S Brunner Rd, Oregon City, OR, 97045 | 503.656.2078
Copyright 2010, King's Mums, LLC
We are always interested in seeing what our custoemrs are doing with their mums. The photographs below are from home gardeners as well as aboretums. If you have some outstanding chrysanthemum photos of King's Mums from your own yard, we would love to see them! Send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A group of Derek Bircumshaws grown by Jong Phill Lee of Palatine, IL
A cascade of Rose Maiko grown by Jong Phill Lee
Bouquets grown by Ronald Deering of Puyallup, WA
A first try at growing incurves by Anthony and Laura Bartoni of Whitehall, PA
Flowers from the garden of E.B. Monteath
\More Blooms grown by E.B. Monteath
A cascade grown by Maria Ourmanova of Boyds, Md.
A Thanksgiving centerpiece grown by David Hannings of San Louis Obispo, CA
Sol Ferschneider holding an Irregular Incurve mum in Seaford, NY
A bouquet grown by Priscilla Dack in Fresno, CA
Little Henry loves his mums in Elm Grove Wisconsin
Gumdrop Cascade grown by Rita Rover of N.Y.
Rita Rover's grandson with Whiteout.
Mr. Florian Geider of Whitehall, PA, shows off one of his winning 'Mt. Shasta's'.
Sol & Dorothy Ferdschneider of New York show off their 'Zinfandel'
Look closely and you will see that there is a little mouse that is a great fan of King's Mums too.
Blooms at the home of Florian Geider in PA.
There's a picnic bench under there!
By Dr. Lewis, New Jersey
"Just for looks!"
"Bola de Oro"
The garden of Mary Baldi
Spiders in the 'Palm Court'
"Gnomes" planted at the
"Houston" grown by
"Spiders" at the
The aboretum at
A Japanese fan made from the variety 'Gum Drop', grown by Roy & Donna Oku of Stockton, Ca.
Disbuded blooms from the yard of Cecile Chmelik of Kentucky
These are the giants of the Chrysanthemum family, highly esteemed for their exhibition potential. Incurving blooms present a loose, more informal appearance than the regular incurve.
Bloom: Oct.15 - Oct. 29
1A, Med. Height
Bloom: Oct. 24 - Nov. 5
1A, Med. Height
Bloom: Oct.24 - Nov. 5
1A, Short Height
Bloom: Oct 13 - 26
1A, Med. Height
Bloom: Oct. 8 - Oct. 25
1A, Medium Height
Bloom: Oct. 24 - Nov. 8
1A, Med. Height
Bloom: Oct.22 - Nov. 5
1A, Med. Height
|Kokka no Waza|
Bloom: Oct. 18 - Nov. 1
1A, Short Height
Bloom: Oct.20 - Nov.2
1A, Med. Height