Best Tips for Growing Chrysanthemums
To the man in the street, the wordmeans the lovely mass of coloured flowers he sees in the markets from September to November. These are to the gardener “ Japanese “ and to the botanists, more accurately, Chrysanthemum sinense, ie. from China, their country of origin.
The genus Chrysanthemum includes many different species, some of which are commonly known as Ox-Eye Daisy, Marguerite, Pyrethrum, Corn Marigold, Shasta Daisy, etc. The Japanese Chrysanthemum is the national flower of Japan, and as such gives its name to their highest Order of Honour— “ The Order of the Golden Flower.” It was brought to England in 1746. Since then it has so gained in popularity that it is now one of the most important plants grown here for the market supply of cut flowers.
CULTIVATION OF THE JAPANESE CHRYSANTHEMUM
In the border, no flowers are more easily cultivated than the early-flowering varieties of the Japanese Chrysanthemum, if given from the outset their simple requirements. They like a fairly rich, light in character. This means that on clay soils good drainage must be provided by deep digging, and on both sandy and stiff soils plenty of decayed leaves, grass clippings, and other must be used.
Chrysanthemums are especially susceptible to sudden checks, and if allowed to dry, or be checked at any time by cold, or shortage of food supplies, the flowers will suffer. This is equally true of both early and late-flowering kinds.
In the early months of the year,are easily obtainable. These are grown on singly, in 3-in. pots in the cold frame, or greenhouse, and must be allowed to continue growth without any check. The plants to be grown in the open garden are stopped once, that is, the top of each growing plant is pinched out (usually about half a dozen leaf joints from the base), with the result that in a few weeks side shoots develop and make a bushy plant ready for in May. The plants are not potted into large pots unless it is desired to use a few of the early border varieties for pot culture. The lights of the frame are removed altogether during mild weather, and only replaced at night when frosts are about.
The late-flowering varieties, grown in pots for winter blooming, are stopped about the same time as the others, and allowed to form three to six shoots. When the new growths are about an inch long, the plants are potted into 5-in. pots. These can stand in the frame, with ample space between the pots, until it is mild enough to move them into the open. They are then potted into 8- or 9-in. pots, and stood in rows out of doors, preferably on an ash foundation, so that a moist atmosphere prevails. Plants may be sprayed overhead, but not made too wet, or allowed to remain wet overnight. They should stand in full sunshine.
The best soil for the pots consists of three parts chopped turves, one part horse droppings (after they have been stored dry for several months so that they are well decayed), half a part leaf-mould, a little silver sand, and a little builders’ lime and bone-meal. The pots are only filled to within two inches of the top at first, so that there is room for top dressings later.
Both pot plants and those in the border need staking, otherwise the stems may break in high winds. Ordinary bamboo canes are best, choosing lengths according to the variety of the plant. Some chrysanthemums grow to as much as 5 ft. high, and should be staked accordingly. Raffia is best for tying, and about once a fortnight all the growing season fresh ties will be needed.
Weeds must be kept down—in the borders with a hoe, but in the pots handis necessary.
If the pot plants stand in rows 4 or 5 ft. apart it leaves ample room for watering and tying. A good way to support them while they are still in the open is to set two stakes in position one at each end of the row, with a wire stretched between, and to tie the cane of each pot to the wire. This prevents damage by high winds.
After they are in their final pots, they are fed with liquid manure once a week, and top dressed lightly at the end of July, the third week in August and again in September. The top dressing should be of soil made by mixing good loam, three parts, with one part each of well-decayed horse manure, and silver sand, together with some reliablefertilizer, of which there are several makes on the market.
When flower buds begin to show, alternate weekly doses of liquid manure made from horse droppings, and soot water, may be given. Where animal manure is quite unobtainable, a good stimulant may be made by mixing together an ounce of nitrate of potash and an ounce of phosphate of potash in a gallon of water. This should be used in very small quantities, and only after soaking the soil thoroughly with water.
About the third week in September, the pot plants are brought under glass. It is best to spray them immediately with liver of sulphur, or to dust the foliage with flowers of sulphur, to prevent the appearance of mildew.
Plenty of light and air must be given, and the temperature never allowed to drop lower than 45°.
Stopping and Disbudding
It is over the vexed question of stopping and disbudding that the amateur gardener usually finds most difficulty. Almost every variety has its idiosyncrasies. What concerns the novice is the “securing” of what are called “first crown buds” and “second crown buds.” If be once understands this, he can follow easily enough the instructions that are usually given in the catalogues of the specialists. “Stopping” is what has already been described, that is, taking out the central portion of a growing shoot. The effect of this is to make the plant grow side shoots, or, as growers would say, to make it “break.” When growers talk of “securing” buds it means that all flower buds, except the ones secured, are rubbed off. Sometimes it is the central flower bud on the main stem which is retained, while the others are rubbed off. This is called the “first crown” bud. Sometimes this bud is rubbed out in early stages. Similar central buds then develop on surrounding shoots, and each of these is called a “second crown” bud.
For ordinary garden decoration, and also for decorating varieties grown in pots, disbudding is not always practised, as the natural spray is preferred. For exhibition blooms however, it is always necessary.
Treatment after Flowering
After flowering, Chrysanthemums normally rest for a short period and then send up a crop of young shoots from the base. In the case of pot plants they are encouraged to do this quite early in the year, in fact, early in January. As soon as the new growths are long enough, they are taken off as cuttings and rooted in sandy soil to be treated as already described.
In the case of the hardy early-flowering varieties, the plants are, in congenial gardens, sometimes allowed to remain in the border without disturbance. A good double handful of ashes or sharp grit over the crowns is adequate protection during the winter. In most gardens it is advisable to lift even the early-flowering varieties and house them under glass during the coldest weather. The roots can be lifted when the tops have died down and packed closely together in the soil of the cold frame. As the lighter days come a little more moisture can be given to these roots to encourage fresh growth, and the shoots can be taken off and rooted in the same way as those for pot culture. If an increase is not desired the plants can be merely replanted in the border about April, but the use of young freshly-rooted plants is recommended.
The practice of growing Japanese Chrysanthemums from seed is in-creasing. It is an easy method of obtaining quantities of strong healthy plants suitable for border decoration and to provide cut flowers for the house. The seed is sown, in ordinary seed, under glass in February, pricked out as soon as possible, and grown on under cool conditions. The majority of the are usually singles, but very fine colours and interesting forms are obtained.