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Stylish and Creative Ways to Decorate With Mums

Posted on Thursday, October 5, 2023
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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Mums on a pumpkin

Learn how to spruce up your plant environment using these expert tips on decorating with mums!

What are mums?

Mums are flowering plants of the genus Chrysanthemum in the family Asteraceae. They are native to East Asia and northeastern Europe. In China, the species is appreciated as a culinary herb and is commonly used in teas. It is also widely portrayed in Chinese art. In many modern-day cultures, such as America, people commonly enjoy decorating with mums.

Colonists bring mums to North America:

The plants reached Europe in the 17th century and were brought to North America via the first colonists. Chrysanthemums, or mums, would be named by Swedish botanist Karl Linnaeus, from the Greek words “chrysos” meaning gold, and “anthemon” meaning flower.

Cherished mums

Mums are revered in many cultures. In China, they are offered to the elderly as a symbol of long life and good luck. In Japan, it appears on the emperor’s crest, and they host a festival of happiness in the form of a National Chrysanthemum Day.  Buddhists use the flower as offerings of Yang energy. While mums in America are typically perceived as “happy” flowers, the story is not the same everywhere.

Mums as memorial flowers

In some European countries, such as Austria, Belgium, France and Italy, “incurved” variety of mums, meaning those featuring large compact, globe-shaped blooms, are popular graveside memorial flowers.  They are used to honor the deceased. To the contrary, in America, garden mums are deemed cheerful and are associated with life and happiness.  

Symbols of happiness

Victorians used chrysanthemums to signal friendship and well wishes. Today, the flowers are associated with homecoming and holiday traditions, particularly Thanksgiving. During the autumnal season, mums are welcome additions to the garden. They are beloved for their colorful, showy blooms and are often showcased in fall garden landscapes, container gardens, and window boxes.

Mum’s popularity

Per Thursd., mums are the largest commercially grown flower in the USA. The garden variety often survives the winter season and thrives as a perennial. Because they are easy to care for, are relatively inexpensive, have a long-lasting bloom, and offer high impact for a  variety of settings, they are prized in the gardening world. As a bonus, they make excellent centerpieces!

Ways to decorate with mums:

Here’s one fun & easy way to create an autumnal centerpiece featuring a colorful mum plant:

Carefully cut a hole in the top of a large pumpkin. Make sure the opening is big enough for the pot of mums to fit inside. Be sure to hollow out enough of the center for the pot to fit by removing some innards and seeds. Tip: Keep the mum in its original pot. Fill the hole with the mum plant and care for it as required.  

More creative ideas:

  • Add wow power to your landscape! Create a welcoming garden border using lines of similar colorful mum plants. Or create patterns using alternate colors.
  • Create vibrant window boxes featuring a variety of mum plants, ornamental cabbage, cascading vines, and ornamental grasses. Add mini pumpkins to complete the fall theme. (To add height, place the mini pumpkins on a craft stick.) There is no limit to the imagination.
  • Fill assorted sized planters with colorful mums. Display plants in groupings on a front porch or outdoor entryway. (To create a focal point: If all your planters are the same size, find clever ways to vary the height of your display. For example, place planters going up the steps or use hay bales or stackable crates to create height and drama.)

Mums are ideal fall plantings:

In the USA, mums are associated with the autumn season. As leaves begin to turn vibrant, these beloved plants also dance with color. Not only are they a welcoming symbol of the change of seasons from summertime to fall, but they also have become symbolic of  autumnal celebrations to include Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Here are three more bonus decorating pro tips from gardening professionals:

Pro tip #1 – (For container gardens) Planters can affect the vibe of your plant display. For example, wooden bucket flower planters provide a rustic vibe, whereas marble planters evoke stately appeal. Use them wisely to create the mood you desire!

Pro tip #2 – (For landscape gardens) Just before early fall, incorporate a variety of mums into your garden landscape to fill in dead spaces and to replace annuals that are spent or past their prime.

Pro tip #3 – (For window boxes) To provide appeal, add mums to window boxes. For drama, be sure to fill in void spaces by adding additional plants and stems of varying heights. Use repetition and at least three different plants. Incorporate thrillers (plants that command attention), fillers (plants that bridge gaps), and spillers (those which cascade). Always create a central focal point. For overall symmetry, arrangements in each window box should shadow one another.

Decorating with mums

Enhance the bright colors of autumn landscapes by adding mums to your décor. It’s very satisfying to decorate with mums. Not only are they easy to care for, but they are attractive focal points that up the amp of cheer and work perfectly to boost the brilliance of the fall season.

Now that the Mums have been placed and look beautiful, don’t forget to take time to care for them.

For information on more seasonal joy,  AMAC’s Blog has more articles on fun projects.

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