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What is an heirloom mum?

What is an heirloom mum?

Mums, aka the queen of fall plants, have strong stems and a long vase life, and throughout the years they have been bred to nourish those qualities that everyone loves about them. Over the years, breeders have developed incredibly sturdy varieties of mums that are often found in grocery bouquets, however, during this process of creating a super plant, some forgotten gems have fallen by the wayside.  

There’s a great chance that you’ve heard the term “heirloom mum”, and if you follow us, you’ve most certainly heard us talk about them and their modern counterpart, “hybrid mums”. Both of these are cut flower mums, and we get lots of questions about what the difference between them really means. Settle in, we’re about to clear up the common jargon surrounding the beloved chrysanthemums.

Heirloom Chrysanthemums

First, we should talk about heirloom mums: Jess has been collecting these vintage varieties for over a decade, and we have *so* many (like 75+) that we are totally smitten with. Their blooms vary greatly in form, attributing personality to each variety with color palettes that are absolutely endless. We love these plants because of their distinct differences from the mums you often see in grocery stores. On top of that, heirloom mums are so unique because they are long-lost flowers that you simply cannot find anymore unless you go through a collector. 

Heirloom mums are often used in the show community - that’s right, there’s a whole community of people who grow chrysanthemums competitively! The goal of competitive mum growing is to rear the biggest, showiest, and most poised bloom possible - things that heirloom mums are known for!

Hybrid Chrysanthemums

So with all the hype around heirloom varieties, why are we even talking about hybrid mums? As we mentioned earlier, chrysanthemums have been bred over the years to enhance the features which make it such an impressive crop. Plant breeders wanted to create mums that had all the bells and whistles: strong stems, reliability, vivid blooms, and uniformity. We love all flowers here at Harmony Harvest Farm, and recognize that there is a place for both heirlooms and hybrids! Researching mums is important, and trials with hybrids have expelled some of the flaws that you can find in heirlooms. 

Though all mums in general are known for hardiness, hybrid mums are the cornerstone of the retail mum market and are commonly found in fall arrangements and grocery store bouquets. They offer a totally different style when compared to the heirloom mums, blooming in more traditional - dare we say common - shapes and colors. 


The big and important difference.

That being said, one of the most important differences to note between the two is more for those who enjoy growing them. Heirloom plants can be propagated while hybrid plants cannot. This is because the hybrid plants are patented, which means that the genetics of those plants are owned by the plant breeder and legally protected. On the other hand, heirloom mums have long outlived the patents placed on them and are free to be propagated as much as you like! 

Whether you prefer hybrid or heirloom blooms, I think we can all agree that the final pop of color for the fresh flower season is welcome no matter which way it comes! We grow both types of mums on the farm because there are so many things to appreciate. Every unique variety deserves a place at the (Thanksgiving) table. If you’re interested in growing mums, be sure to join our Mum Plant Waitlist or check out our Complete Guide to Growing Mums Course

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