Mums the Word

I have always turned my nose up at mums, preferring the delicate petals of a tulip, the endless uses for herbs and the bright pop of pansies.

I honestly can’t pinpoint why I had such disdain for the mum. Regardless, this September the flowering plant started to catch my eye. Pots of the hearty garden variety started appearing all around my quaint suburban Chicago “village”.  As I ran past the local, upscale, family-owned hardware store, walked into Whole Foods and drove past garden centers, I was captivated by the seas of perfectly domed plants just at the onset of blooming into glorious autumn hues.

One rainy, cool, cloud-covered day, I found myself roaming through rows upon rows of mums at the local nursery. I wasn’t sure how to pot or care for the plants but I couldn’t resist. I filled up my cart with burnt orange, bright plum and sunny yellow varieties and two bags of potting soil.

Later that afternoon, my daughter and I put on our Hunter boots and rain jackets and headed outside to pot our first mums. We found her mini, princess-themed garden gloves and little shovel, opened the bags of potting soil, set out a series of slate grey, clean-lined pots and began our project.

She reveled in filling the pots with soil one mini shovelful at time and even picked one bloom of each color that she presented to me proudly by saying, “For a vase filled with water.”

Now our front steps and balcony are graced with the lovely blooms and I am forced to admit that I have long underestimated mums.

For mum newbies like myself, here are a few tips on caring for the flowering plants from the National Chrysanthemum Society.