How to Grow Beautiful Chrysanthemums
Author: JM Date Posted:13 May 2018
Of all the groups of plants we grow the Chrysanthemums are probably the ones that reward us most for any attention we have given them.
As is evidenced by the enormous blooms achieved by competition growers, chrysanthemums reward feeding, watering and pruning with huge blooms, not that these are to everyone's taste but the lesson is there. Lavish any amount of attention on a Chrysanthemum and they will return it manyfold.
Growing Chrysanthemums from cuttings is by far the most efficient way to have lots of stems for picking in autumn, it is a simple procedure that requires little in the way of specialist equipment.
The process commences soon after the previous seasons plants have finished flowering. Old plants are cut to ground and either left in-situ in mild climates or moved to a sheltered position in colder areas where they will start to show signs of growth at the base, by August these shoots will be large enough to take cuttings .
Take shoots that are 10 to 15cm long and insert in propagating mix and place in a warm , well lit area. If you have a heat mat this will speed up the process but is by no means essential.
When the young plants are well rooted they should be potted into 15cm pots for 6 weeks or so before being planted out in there growing position. If you are wanting to grow them in pots then a either a commercial mix with additional peat for moisture retention works well or use the competition growers mix of loam, sand and peat in equal measure. A nitrogenous fertilizer applied fortnightly up until the first bud formation will keep plants moving along well but as soon as the tip growth begins to tighten and buds begin to form Tomato fertilizer should be applied instead.- the higher potash content will increase flowering.
Chrysanthemum dislike being checked in any way during their growing phase so make sure a sprinkler is permanently placed near them or use dripper lines to ensure even moisture over the summer. We have found the dripper system of great benefit both in keeping the possibility of fungal attacks over summer to a minimum and again later in autumn when buds are beginning to open. Even moisture and good air flow between plants is the key to keeping them healthy and disease free. If the odd leaf shows signs of rust or mildew then a quick spray with Macozeb or something similar will make short shrift of it.
We have also found that weed-mat to be useful in preserving moisture and in keeping weeds to a minimum. For small areas an organic mulch is to be preferred but when the Chrysanthemum bug bites it can be an expensive exercise to mulch row after row each year whereas the weed-mat can be pulled up and stored from season to season.
Chrysanthemums need staking , there is just no way around it. When plants are growing well they quickly get to the stage of requiring support which can be done with individual stakes and ties or, as the commercial growers do, grow them through mesh. Unfortunately the mesh used commercially is not easily found but a light-weight metal reinforcing mesh is a good long-lasting alternative. When placed on the ground at planting time it provides an easy guide. Regularly spaced pairs of star pickets, each with a connecting stretcher of bamboo or wooden stake placed under the mesh make a good alternative the stakes allow for easy lifting of the mesh as the plants grow. ( If using reinforcing mesh be wary of making your beds too wide though as it makes picking rather difficult, 70cm is usually about right.)
Many of the varieties we offer are also suitable for the exhibition bench but that is a specialised knowledge and one best gleaned from the experts through one of the Chrysanthemum societies.