Ask Ella: On The Staying Power of Spider Mums
Ask Ella is a recurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight spider mums, a workhorse flower that offers affordable, lasting beauty.
Chrysanthemums, a part of the largest family of flowering plants, come in a number of colors, with shape and volume differing wildly. Some have petals in a neat, gradient of color; some have tiny shoe-horn petals, gently curved at the ends; and others grow in an almost perfectly round sphere, like a forgotten French culinary delight. Among the many cultivars are spider mums, whose thin, irregularly-sized petals make them a refreshing addition to bouquets.
In the world of floral design, spider mums are always a reliable option, dependable in their ability to liven up bouquets with their unusual texture and thin layers of petals. Mums are widely available throughout the year and reasonably priced, and are a sound economic investment, as most will last one- to two- weeks (though at the GC floral salon, we had a batch last a healthy 16 days).
To keep spider mums looking sharp, make sure you pinch off most foliage (if not all) when you first purchase them, in order to ensure that water feeds the flower and not the leaves. Keep them cool and recut the stems at a 45º angle each day, refilling the vase with cold water when you do. If they start to look a little worse for wear, you can give them a round of shock therapy. Pair mums with dusty miller for a rich, modern look, or simply keep a bunch gathered by themselves. Any leftover blossoms can be woven into flower crowns for a bursting effect. Just make sure you love them– they’ll stick around!