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Garden Guru: Mom's Mother's Day flowers should reflect who she is

By John Porter
John Porter
Azaleas and rhododendrons, like these at Capitol Market, are good gifts for the traditional mother.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On the second Sunday of each May, we set aside time to honor and remember the women who have made us who we are -- moms, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, mentors and others who have played a motherlike role in our lives.According to the folks at Hallmark, Mother's Day is the third-largest card-sending holiday with about 141 million cards sent on the holiday. With $15.8 billion in projected sales for 2013, it is also the second-largest gift-giving holiday, second only to Christmas. We take the business of honoring our mothers seriously.And flowers are more than two-thirds of the gifts given for Mother's Day. Some of them come in bouquet form, but a great many are annuals, perennials, baskets and more that can be a gift that stays with them through the growing season or for many years to come.Tim Forren, of Forren Soil on Charleston's West Side, tells me that the week leading up to Mother's Day is one of his busiest weeks of the year. The sentiment is also echoed at Capitol Market. The folks at the Evans Greenhouse booth at the market say they experience their busiest day of the year on the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend. The folks at the Marvin Edwards Nursery booth also said that Mother's Day week was their busiest, with sales upwards of four times higher than a normal week. Hanging baskets seem to be a favorite purchase for Mom, but there are many other options out there.Plants and flowers are a great way to memorialize and remember those mother figures who are no longer with us. With a memorial planting, we can both remember and heal. Planting annuals can provide a yearly reminder of those we love, while a perennial planting can be a long-lasting testament of a mother's or grandmother's love. It is especially poignant to select plants that were favorites or have favorite colors of the remembered.This year, I hope to find something to add to my landscape that would memorialize my grandmothers -- something that reminds me of them and the influence they had on my life. If you don't have space for a plant, or if you think you have a black thumb, then a donation to a community garden, church garden, school garden or a community center can be an apt memorial.Now, if you are just remembering that today is Mother's Day or haven't picked up a gift yet for dear old Mom, don't fret; there's still plenty of opportunity to find a plant or flower. If you still need to buy something for Mom and you are scratching your head as to what kind of plant to buy, here are some suggestions:
For the traditional mom: Hanging baskets are a safe choice, especially with a nice showy flower or a fern. Azaleas, rhododendrons, roses and hydrangeas are also a safe bet.For the practical mom: Find some nice perennial or woody edible plants for mom -- how about rhubarb or some blueberry shrubs. Garden tools also make a nice gift.For the mom who loves to cook: Put together a planter of favorite herbs or a pot of multicolored lettuces and salad greens. You also can't go wrong with edible landscape plants or vegetables -- like a selection of heirloom tomatoes.For the artistic mom: A nice garden sculpture or fountain could be a good choice. Unusual or particularly colorful plants might also strike her fancy.For the mom without a garden: Find a nice houseplant such as an orchid or some African violets. Put them in a nice container and include the appropriate supplies, like fertilizer, to go with them.For the mom with a black thumb: Donations to garden projects, community gardens and school gardens. Some may have luck with cacti and other succulents, but Mom might not appreciate receiving a prickly present as a token of love. Otherwise, stick with a bouquet of her favorite flowers and a card.John Porter is the WVU Extension Service agent for agriculture and natural resources in Kanawha County. He may be reached at or at 304-720-9573.
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