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  • Jane Westoby

Extending The season - Growing Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemum Avignon Pink

The trickiest part of being a flower farmer I think is finding how you can extend your season. It's easy to grow flowers when the sun is shining , but early and late season cam be tricky.


For me the most prolific and beautiful late season crop has to be the Chrysathemum. When the days are getting shorter and you start putting the beds to sleep. You've dug out the Dahlias and really there's not much left but berries and dried stems. They are such a welcome burst of colour and real excitement.


If you've not had a frost they also pair beautifully with Dahlias too and in all the autumn shades you could wish for. Choose carefully and wisely and you will be rewarded.


They are super easy to propagate, grow and care for and spring is the time to forward plan and start then off.


BUYING CHRYSANTHEMUMS

The best florists varieties are grown from cuttings rather than from seed, and are grown by specialist nurseries. Your local garden centre is unlikely to have the varieties you need as they will generally only sell the varieties used for bedding which will have short stems and form bushy balls.


For the cut flower garden/florist varieties you will need long stemmed varieties which are also grown for the showbench - Heirloom Mums! A quick google search will point you in the right direction wherever you are living so you can buy them in as small rooted cuttings delivered direct to your door.


My favourite varieties for cutting are the Allouise and Avignon varieties.

Chrysanthemum Varieties

CHRYSANTHEMUM CUTTINGS

Once you receive your cuttings you will need to pot them up into a bigger pot and you will notice that they soon grow tall. This is ideal, you can use this growth to root some of your own cuttings and increase your stock.


They root super easy, in just a few weeks without any mollycoddling!


Chrysanthemum Cuttings

  • I wait until the stems are around 20cm tall and trim the main shoot back down to the second pair of leaves. This usually gives me 2-3 cuttings around 7cm each.

  • Fill a cell tray with a 50/50 mix of perlite & compost.

  • Strip the lower leaves from the stems

  • Dip each end into hormone rooting power ( Although I have found that they will root very well without it)

  • Dip a hole in the centre of each cell and pop the cutting in so that it almost touches the bottom

  • Water them in well and place in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. They will also benefit from a propagator lid for the first few days of you have one or the occasional misting with a water spray.


Chrysanthemum Cuttings

They should root within 2-3 weeks. The roots are easy to see if you can use transparent cell trays. Alternatively watch for new growth and give them a little tug. If there's no movement you know they have rooted.


You will also be able to repeat this process again with your own rooted cuttings - Pinching out the tips to form more flowering branches and use the pinchings as cuttings.


PINCHING CHRYSANTHEMUMS

You can keep pinching out the tips of your Chrysanthemums upto around Mid/End June. However this really depends when you need to harvest the blooms and the variety. I tend to stagger my pinching so that I can get blooms over a longer harvest period from September right through to December. So I stop pinching some in late May and other I will pinch into July. The later it gets the longer the stems I will leave on the plant though so that I can still get viable stem length for cutting.


Flower Arranging with Chrysanthemums

GROWING CHRYSANTHEMUMS

Chrysanthemums are short day plants so they grow during the summer and will start to flower once the days get shorter, which is why they are such a perfect season extender.


You can also trick your mums into flowering a little earlier if needed by planting them in a semi shaded location.


They can be grown in pots as they really don't require a lot of space, or they can be grown in the ground. Ensure the ground is well drained and as they are growing they will need a slow release fertilizer high in nitrogen which will help promote root growth and green leafy growth, such as pelleted chicken manure. Once the flower buds have appeared you can then give a high potash feed like a tomato fertilizer.


HARVESTING CHRYSANTHEMUMS

Cut flowers when they are just starting to open for the longest vase life. Strip the stems of leaves and condition in deep water overnight.





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