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It has been suggested that there are quite a number of potential Chrysanthemum growers, if only they had some initial guidance. With this in mind we have put together a few notes, hoping to stimulate some interest. Although the Society has several expert growers, we do need new growers to keep up the good work.

    If without any stock, orders should be placed with a specialist nurseryman as soon as possible. Preferably, stocks can be obtained from one of the local experts. For those with some existing ''stools'' (last year's plants cut down to about 6'') and boxed up for Winter, they should be kept in the cold frame until early January when they should be brought into the greenhouse and started into growth with a little water and gentle heat.

    Compost should be prepared for taking cuttings. A mixture of equal parts loam, peat and grit, or coarse sand is suitable, or if preferred John Innes No. 1 or a soil-less compost can be used. If a little bottom heat is available a start can be made at the end of January or early February, but don't forget, good plants can still be produced from March and even April cuttings.

    The best are usually obtained from young growth coming from the base of the old stool, although stem cuttings are permissible if no others are available. NEVER take cuttings from a dry stock plant, water them the day before to plump them up. Snap off between finger and thumb, remove the bottom leaves, leaving the cuttings about two inches long. Dip the bottom half inch in a hormone rooting powder and shake off surplus. Both pots and boxes can be used for rooting in. For a suitable compost use 15 equal parts of loam, peat and sharp sand. If bottom heat can be provided, about 60 F. is ideal. A simple propagating case can be made by the handyman - (i.e. a wooden box covered with a sheet of glass) Rooting usually takes place in about two - three weeks.

    When rooted, remove from bottom heat or propagating case, and pot up singly into 3.5'' pots or if preferred boxes about 4'' deep can be used, spacing out the plants about 4'' apart. For this, more John Innes No.1 is suitable. Place in cooler part of the greenhouse, preferably on a shelf to prevent plants being drawn. The aim is to encourage root growth and short stocky plants. ''Earlies'' can be kept in boxes until planting out time, but if ''Lates'' are being grown in pots, a move into a 5'' or 6'' pot is necessary, John Innes No. 2 being used for this move. When the weather is suitable, usually from mid March onwards, plants should be moved into a cold frame for hardening off. Watch out for frost, and be prepared to cover frame with sacking, etc. if severe frost is expected. If plants do happen to get frozen, spray with COLD water and thaw out gradually.

  5. BEDS
    Beds for Earlies should be prepared during the Winter, manuring if possible and incorporating a general balanced fertiliser, such as Vitax Q4. About three weeks before planting, a dressing of early chrysanthemum fertilizer should be forked into the top soil 6'' or so deep. Canes are put into position before planting, allowing about 15'' between plants and rows if space permits.

    Planting out of Earlies should be commenced about the second week in May. If a little protection from the wind can be given, it will help give the plants a good start.

    ''Stopping'' (pinching out the growing points) is done at the end of May. This ensures the Earlies will flower before the frosts get too keen. Only when growing for Show purposes does the stopping date need adjustment for certain varieties. Routine spraying, hoeing and weeding should now be practised.

    When the side shoots elongate, one has to decide the number of blooms each plant will be allowed to carry, remembering if you want large blooms obviously you cannot expect as many per plant. Remove surplus shoots GRADUALLY, until you are left with the number you require to flower - for general use, usually about six stems per plant, or for showing, about three per plant. These shoots should be tied in regularly, adding more canes as necessary. Keep these shoots clear of side shoots, and eventually a cluster of buds will appear at the top of each stem. DIS-BUDDING then takes place by removing all but the central bud on each stem, ensuring that this has not been damaged by insects, etc. - if so, allow a side bud to develop instead. DON'T dis-bud all at once - remove buds over a week or so.

    When the bud starts to swell, a little feeding can be advantageous. Use one of the proprietary chrysanthemum feeds which are available, always using the manufacturer's recommended strength and application rates. A mistake often made by beginners is to cut blooms far too young for full development to take place. Blooms need to be HALF OUT to enable them to fully open in water. If a little protection is given from the weather, better results still will be obtained. Use greaseproof paper (NOT plastic) bags, or plastic sheeting on a framework which must be made secure. Flowering time is when one selects the BEST PLANTS for next year's stock. Anything not up to standard MUST be discarded after flowering.

  10. ''LATES''
    With the LATE flowering (indoor) varieties, the cultivation is slightly different. POTS are used throughout, normally starting in a 3.5'' pot of John Innes No.1, and when full of root, moving into a 5'' or 6'' pot of John Innes No. 2. The same procedure as with the earlies for hardening off in the cold frame. Plants will require staking when large enough. STOPPING OF LATES is again only necessary if flowers are required for a specific time or show. Without stopping, the plants will make a natural break and give you a succession of flowers through November and December. Final potting is commenced when the 5'' pots are full of roots, usually about the end of May or early June. 8'' or 9'' pots are suitable, also John Innes No.3 will give consistent results. As with the earlies, select the number of stems per plant, and keep these tied in and pest free by routine spraying.

    Five weeks after final potting, feeding should commence. There are several liquid feeds suitable - Vitax Q4 is readily available. Once the final potting is completed, it is advised to stand plants secured (in rows) to post and wires to prevent wind damage.

    Watering is one of the most important aspects of growing Chrysanthemums - the ideal being to water just before plant is on the point of drying out. Give a good watering, and it should last a few days. It should perhaps be pointed out that at final potting time at least a two inch space should have been left at the top of each pot to allow for watering.

    About the end of September, plants should be moved into the greenhouse which should have been prepared to receive them. The pots should be scrubbed clean and the plants sprayed with a combined insecticide/fungicide, making sure that you spray thoroughly underneath the foliage. Allow to drain, and then take into the greenhouse. Give plenty of air by leaving vents and door open for the first two weeks after housing, to climatise the plants. After this, ventilate as necessary, in fact it does no harm to keep a little air on all through flowering time.

    Watering - Don't water unnecessarily, but don't allow to dry out.
    Potting - Crock bottom of pots, place rough compost over crock, add compost gradually, firming round plant - leave sufficient space at top for watering.
    Spraying - Pests can build up a resistance to some modern insecticides, so ring the changes with your sprays.
    Cutting - Split ends of stems to assist take up of water before putting in vase.

    The above narrative and notes were prepared by the late Bert Winrow who for many years was the President of Maghull Horticultural Society.

    Suggested Specialist Nurserymen - by no means exhaustive -
    Harold Walker Oakfield Nurseries, Huntington, Chester. CH3 6EA.
    Frank Charlton Chrysanthemums, 24 Redesdale Road, Redhouse Estate, Sunderland. SR5 5HA.

    Suggested Varieties - all are tried and tested reliable growers -
    Earlies - Chessington, Cornetto, Courtier, Max Riley, Peter Rowe, Rachel Knowles.
    Early Outside Sprays - The Pennine Family, The Enbee Wedding Family,
    The Talbot Parade Family.

    Later Outside Sprays - Pink Gin, Robeam, Romark, Ryflash, Coral Rynoon.
    Lates - Charles Tandy, Harry Woolman, KayWoolman, John Hughes Family,
    Patricia Millar Family, Roy Coopland.

    The Society's Secretary, Alan Foxall, will be happy to offer advice or information to any members wishing to grow better Chrysanthemums.

Another website to visit is - CHRYSANTHEMUMS IN ABERDEEN.
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September 2008

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