Horticultural snobbery: mums, carnations and other plants we hate

So, yesterday’s post on Mums drew some interesting comments. Can’t say I’m totally surprised.

Like I said… esthetics. Who’s to say?

But I found some of the feedback really fun.

First, a shout out to the Mum folk — you know I love a good fight!

In defense of Mums, they argue these “practical” perennials are cheap, hardy, long-lasting, able to survive untalented gardeners (ahem) and plummeting fall temperatures… and come in lots of pretty colors. (They also stir fond family memories for at least one friend.)

In the anti-Mum corner: one friend reported Mums make her angry (yes!) and another called them “Hallmark-y.” (And she’s a designer, so we’ll call that an expert opinion. Thank you, Nicole!) Another friend I’ve known a looong time admitted to harboring some white ones right now but agreed they’re old ladyish. She also said they’re so cheap she doesn’t feel bad when she kills them. Ha!

Interestingly, this same friend also reported that she hates carnations, as do I. “Carnation Rage!” she wrote on my FB. She also called them cop-out flowers that no one grows because they “come out of a tube.” (Love you, Scarlett Messenger.) I personally particularly hate pink carnations paired with baby’s breath. Yuck!

It’s really interesting which flowers people hate. I would love to hear more about the plants you all detest and why. Bring it on!

My best friend is no fan of the anthurium. (I had no idea. I was shocked. I only found out when I posted it as my first Plant Porn Phriday pic.) I personally love the waxy dark green leaves and porno red flower. (And let’s not overlook the important fact that my anthurium is still thriving after months in my care, making it my FRIEND.) But I think they give her a wicked 80s vibe. I did admit to her that I could see a Patrick Nagel poster behind them… or the Robert Palmer girls dancing nearby. But I’m kinda into that.

This was the shizatt in the 80s. Now, only nail salon art looks like this. What color do you want?

But back to Mums. I learned a few other interesting things about them yesterday, besides where my friends stand on their dubious esthetic value.

Bees apparently hate them too, because they attract a bee-eating spider. And we all know the importance of pollination in the garden!

Also, while Googling words like “Mums” and “Hate” I came across an interesting little column full of Mum love. In it, writer Adam Pasco basically said people who dislike these “hardy perennials” are snobs. Yes, really!

“Simply mentioning their name can provoke a rather snooty look of disdain,” he writes. “Chrysanths are very popular,  but often considered brash and ‘common’. They remain one of the most popular cut flowers, coming a close second only to roses, according to a recent survey of florists. And as with any ‘easy-to-grow’ plant, it divides gardeners in the same way that gladioli, dahlias and many others do.”

He goes on…

“Horticultural snobs may give them a wide berth as they search out something with a far more complicated botanical name, but remember that plants are popular for a reason. Plants fall in and out of fashion (like conifer…), but you really shouldn’t let this put you off growing them.”

The reader comments below his Mum-praising prose continue in the same vein.

This all got me thinking… am I plant snob? Is that possible?

Now, first let me say I love dahlias and have no issue with gladioli (though they kind of remind me of Death and Easter). And “easy” is a good word for me, in regards to plants. I am not yet so talented or ambitious that I’m looking for exotic, tough, touchy plants to kill. Quite the contrary!

Also, I would characterize myself as down-to-earth and of-the-people. Hell, I’m from Seattle and I’ll drink gas station coffee or Dunkin’s in a styrofoam cup. (The horror.) For years, most of our furniture came from garbage days in Boston. My favorite place to hang out is the flea market. I swear a lot. You get my drift.

But I guess when it comes to plants and flowers, I harbor hate for several very common — and cheap — varieties. And if that makes me a “horticultural snob,” well… call me a hater.

Now I'm the Perez Hilton of floral trash talk


About plantkiller

Paysha Rhone is a wife, mother, former-journalist-turned-PR-maven and bad mamajama killing plants in the Victorian splendor of Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
This entry was posted in Hateful plants and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Horticultural snobbery: mums, carnations and other plants we hate

  1. Kristen says:

    Lol! I found this one pretty awesome, Paysha! I was a florist for seven years and also grew to resent mums, but mostly because we had to put them in EVERYTHING. All the cheap arrangements people would order were stuffed with mums and carnations because they last longer. There are some beautiful, funky mums, too! Now as an ecologist, I instead tend to resent non-native plants purchased at Home Depot or other big-box stores, when many beautiful native plants can be purchased at small, local greenhouses. These plants are adapted to the climate, light, and soil levels in the region and attract a host of native and often under-appreciated pollinators. You end up with an easier to care for garden, plants other people don’t have, and you are supporting the natural ecosystem!

  2. plantkiller says:

    Ha! I am actually going to have to follow this post up soon and admit there are a few other cool mums I forgot. (My best friend reminded me today… green button mums… yeah, they are cool too.) She also claims there are cool carnations but I am awaiting photographic evidence. 🙂
    And I too am coming ’round to a serious anti-box store perspective re: plants. I wish I could find more local greenhouses to buy from… ma and pa kind of places. I have been buying from local businesses for most of the summer, though. And the plants re doing better, partially — I imagine — because they are healthier!

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