Growing Chrysanthemums – Early Flowering Chrysanthemums
Growing Early Flowering
This is the group ofwhich flower out of doors. By correct choice of varieties, a display can be obtained from August to the end of September. There is a risk of frost with the latest of the “early” varieties but for a bold splash of colour, the September flowering sorts are especially valuable.
Position for Growing Chrysanthemums
To obtain the best results, devote a border toalone. If only a limited space is available, a few plants can be incorporated into the herbaceous border, with good results. Most varieties are about 3 ft. tall, so they will need to be sited amongst other plants of this height.
Choose a sunny border, yet a situation sheltered from wind. A well drained site is essential. Although make a large amount of surface roots, the plot should be forked or dug through before planting. Afterwards, add as generous a layer of as can be spared, forked into the top Gins. of , where most of the roots will develop. Rake in a dressing of 4 ozs. of bone meal and 4 ozs. of wood ashes to each square yard, prior to planting. If the soil is new or not rich in compost, give 2 ozs. of hoof and horn to each square yard as well.
Taking Cuttings from Plants
Having dealt with the site preparation, we have now to go back to the taking of the, if stools are available, otherwise it means buying plants in for setting out in May.
Cuttings are best taken in a greenhouse, although they can be rooted in a cold frame in March. The new shoots that arise from the stools (last years plants) are used for propagation. Select those 3 ins. long, remove the lower pair of leaves, leave the top intact, and cut through a leaf joint at the base, neatly with a sharp knife.
Small numbers of cuttings can be inserted in 5in. pots, about 2ins. apart, in a mixture of 2 parts loam, 1 part sieved compost and 1 part coarse grit. They can be rooted in pure sand, but this means moving them into pots as soon as they are rooted. There is always a danger of a check in growth, if repotting is delayed. Late February and early March is time enough to startin a greenhouse.
Firmly plant the prepared shoots to nearly half their depth and water them in. A high temperature is not needed: 50 degrees F. by night is ample. The cuttings will root more quickly if a sheet of polythene is laid over them, and this can rest lightly on the foliage. Examine the rooting medium for moisture content each day, but do not over water, or some cuttings may be lost. The leaves may flag badly for 7 to 10 days, but this should not cause any concern, as they will recover. Rooting usually takes 3 to 4 weeks.
When this takes place, and the plants are “standing up” and new growth is being made, put the pots out in the open on a bench or staging in full light and continue to water with care.
The next job is to pot the plants singly into 3-1/2 in. pots. A good mixture to use is 3 parts loam, 2 parts sieved compost and 1 part coarse sand, with a handful each of bone meal, hoof and horn and wood ashes to each bucketful of the mixture. Place a little compost over the crocks in the bottom of the pot. The plants should be potted fairly firmly, and stood pot thick (that is, the pots touching) on the bench. Make sure that each variety is correctly labelled.
In late April, the plants can be stood out in a cold frame, but the pots should now be spaced out 1 in. apart each way. Continue to water as needed, but only when the plants really need attention, as over watering must be avoided. At this stage each plant should have some support, with an 18 in. thin, split cane. Do not tie too tightly: there should always be the space of two fingers between cane and plant.
Planting should be done with care, each plant taken out of its pot with no disturbance to the roots. The crocks should be removed, and a hole taken out slightly larger than the ball of soil. The final planting depth should be such that the top of the ball is only slightly lower than the border level. The soil should be moderately firmed. Plants should be 15 ins. apart each way, and a two or three row border will give a good display. After planting set a 4 ft. cane in position to which the plants are tied, two or three times, as growth develops, the later tie encircling all the shoots.
When the plants are about 8 to 9 ins. high remove the growing point. This is called “stopping” and the aim is to make the plants “break”, or send out side shoots. These are each allowed to bear one flower, at the top, and any side shoots that arise from the main breaks are removed when small. When the buds can be seen clearly at the ends of the shoots, remove all but the central bud. If all the buds are left, a “spray” of small flowers will be obtained, and there is no reason why a few plants should not be grown in this way.
Blooms of varying size can be obtained by reducing the number of main shoots (breaks) on each plant. If all are allowed to develop, the blooms may be small. For many varieties, 6 or 7 flowers per plant give good results, but if some plants are reduced to, say, 5 breaks, and others to 6, 7 or 8, flowers of contrasting size can be obtained.
When the plants are about 18 ins. high, give a mulch, over the whole area if possible, of lin. of compost, or if none can be spared, use lawn mowings, spent hops or leaf mould. Compost is to be preferred and some should be set aside for this purpose if at all possible.
During the growing season pay regular attention to tying, side shooting, disbudding, and the taking off of any shoots that arise from soil level or below.
Regular spraying with Derris will keep the plants free of pest trouble.
There is one major point to remember concerningculture and that is to keep them growing without check, throughout, right from planting time. They respond to watering in dry spells, but with generous compost treatment will be well cared for in this respect, and will not suffer in dry weather, as much as do plants grown in soils poor in .
When flowering has finished, cut down the stems to 9 ins., and lift the stools into a cold frame or into deep boxes. In either case, plant firmly and closely. Whether the stools are kept in a greenhouse or frame, protection from severe frost will be necessary. It is from these plants that cuttings can be taken, the following season. Keep the stools fairly dry over winter.