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This article was originally published on the web on ukonline.co.uk/i.payne however that website is defunct at February 2013. The copyright is with the original owners of ukonline.co.uk/i.payne and the article is reproduced here as it is informative.


CULTURAL TIPS FOR CHRYSANTHEMUMS

(January)

By now stools should have been taken from their pots, washed, placed in new compost and placed on the cable. Whilst on the cable it is wise to keep them growing steadily by giving a weak feed and not neglecting to water when required. This way the cutting material is in a turgid condition, fresh and green and will root readily.

The idea of cuttings is to make a root as quickly as possible and to keep it moving once you've achieved the root. Within two weeks the new shoots (Cutting material) should appear. This new growth will root easier and quicker than the old growth. The sooner cuttings of large and medium exhibition are taken the better. This is followed by singles, incurves, intermediates and reflex needing two stops. All cutting should ideally be of the same vigour and about an inch and a half in length.

The cuttings should be inserted into trays or cells (cells cause less root disturbance when potting) filled with a good rooting medium. Once inserted into this medium cover it with perlite to reflect light, give a light spray and place on the cable. The speed of rooting is relative to temperature the ideal being around 60 F. Rooting at this temperature taking about two weeks. It can be beneficial to spray the cuttings in sunny weather if they start to flag. Only water if the compost is dry.

Just before rooting occurs the cutting turns a greyish colour. Once over this period the change is a greener look with the middle growing away.

Once the cuttings are rooted, first raise them off the cable for a day then move to the bench to harden off. Once off the cable its a good idea to spray with a half strength insecticide "Just to be on the safe side".

Now is a good time to be preparing your compost for your first potting. The choice between peat based or loam is personal and for you to decide. If you decide to use soiless you can buy a proprietary brand (Growell, SHL) ready to use or make your own using a base fertiliser with peat and following manufacturers directions.

Ask at cultural meetings or order plants you know you will either be short of or want to grow for the first time as soon as possible.

(February)

Still keep your eye on the rooting program, put cutting material on the cable for a later rooting date or if you had some earlier failures. Always remember it's better to have a late rooted cutting than no cutting at all. With any luck it will catch up.

Continue to pot up plants as and when they have a good root system. Keep the plants well ventilated but out of draughts and in full light. If the plants become dry and start to droop wait until next morning and then give a good watering.

Towards the end of the month place stools of reflex on the cable if you are growing them on one stop and need a late cutting. These will produce cutting material very quickly and root in about ten days.

Now is the time to be vigilant for pests and disease. Leaves may here and there exhibit small pin pricks, silvery scars on the upper surface and tiny flies like small house flies flitting between the plants. These are leaf miners and their presence is a portent of infestation, unless they are controlled now. Spray on a regular basis on a dull day with both insecticide and fungicide.

Now is a good time to decide what sort of plant you want at all stages of its life. The plant should be short and stocky, this will only be possible with good root action, full light and a temperature as low as possible

below is an example for a potting medium.

6 Parts loam

3 Parts peat

2 Parts grit

Added to each bushel is 4oz Calcified seaweed 6oz Vitax Q4

(March)

This is the month that hopefully the cuttings you ordered will arrive. Most plants will arrive in good condition, but if they have been delayed in post they won't be at their best. These plants will benefit by being stood in water for an hour or so before potting, then keep them in the shade for a few days.

Large exhibition being grown on second crown will need their first stop this month. Stopping is the removal of the growing tip and this makes the plant Produce laterals.

Check stools on the cable for slugs, if any signs are visible scatter slug pellets around them. Now is a good time to insert cutting from these stools which will only receive one stop. Before putting the slug pellets away scatter some in the cold frame to kill off slugs lurking there waiting for the plants.

Check your five inch pots in readiness for potting on. Prepare a new mix of compost, once again it's a personal choice between peat or loam based.Check your plants on a regular basis, if the pot is becoming full of roots move it on to a bigger pot.Insert a split cane and tie the plant loosely to it.Daytime temperatures can soar at this time of year so ventilate whenever possible. Check the late rooted cuttings and pot as soon as possible.

As time moves to the end of the month its time to move the plants out of the greenhouse and into the frame. The slug pellets should have done their job, but put down some fresh ones. Keep the frames closed for the first week to slowly get the plants used to being "outside". Be prepared to cover the frames at night whenever frost is forecast. Carpets used to cover the frames become heavy if they get wet so put them into polythene bags.

Now is also a good time to look back and assess the successes and failures of the propagation season. Make notes now on any changes you need to make next year whilst still fresh in your mind.

5 inch potting mix

A mix for loam based compost is as follows :-

7 Parts loam

3 Parts peat

2 Parts grit

 

Add to each bushel

4oz Vitax Q4

4 oz Eclipse 1.1.1.

8 oz Calcified seaweed

(April)

Keep your eye on the stopping list. Most plants being grown on second crown will need a first stop this month. Some large exhibition grown on first crown will need stopping as well.

Continue to pot up plants into five inch pots as they need it. Keep your eyes open for slugs and aphids, spray at the first sign of infestation. Water only when the plant really needs water, wait until it flags (this builds up a good root system)

Plants in the frame will need to be spaced out as they increase in size. Make it a regular practice to check each plant. This will enable you to discard any plants that are not up to scratch, as well as giving you extra space for your healthy plants. Give as much ventilation as possible but always beware of frost.

Continue to wash and store pots as they pass out of use.

Plants that were bought in tend to bud up at this time of year. This is due to the parent plant being subjected to high temperatures. If this occurs it is better to select lower laterals in case this has effected top laterals.

As we near the end of the month it is a good idea to check out your final pots in readiness of final potting next month.

(May)

Plants should now be doing well in 5in pots and be showing signs of filling their pots with roots, this is always a good sign that final potting is not far off. Keeping a vigil for slugs and aphids is the main task along with making sure they're watered, only water when they need it. The standing ground also should be made ready to receive the plants when they are planted out. Keep your eye on stopping dates, most incurves and decs on first crown will need a stop this month.

By mid May we can start to mix some final potting compost. This again depending on the plants involved, areas and personal ideas.

Some plants like a peaty growing medium and in a lot of instances they tend to flower earlier in this method. But it does tend to dry out faster and thus needs more watering.Loam based can be re-watered a lot easier and being in clay pots breathes better. But again this is individuals choice and preference.

Never be too ready to pot up your plants. Only when they've filled the 5in with root move them on, otherwise they'll sit in the pots ages and ages making root again. When a plant is ready to move on it fairly races into the new compost where as if it isn't in the right stage it takes a lot longer.

The general mix for final pots is :-

Loam Base

7 parts loam

3 parts peat

2 parts grit

Peat Base

3 buckets peat

1 bucket grit

A bucket being 2 Gallons

To loam is added per bushel :-

12oz Vitax Q4,

8oz Seagold

2oz Magnesium sulphate(Epson salts)

To peat use either chempak potting base or vitax potting base to instructions

Its not easy I know but try to avoid the pots getting soaked after moving into finals. If you can keep them on the dry side the roots move faster into the compost. This is why we stand them close together, what is called POT THICK.If you can get them under cover that's great but if you cannot then by standing pot thick this enables the leaves to protect the root ball from becoming soaked. Leave pot thick for 10-14 days. Water if they do dry and wilt.

Aim to get your plants onto the standing ground by the end of the month if at all possible.Once this is done, according to the experts and the wealthy this is the best time to take you holidays.

(June)

Any plants not on the standing ground by now need to placed there as soon as possible. Secure each cane to the straining wires leaving about six (6) inches between pots. Ideally plants will be in double rows with a space of two (2) feet between these double rows. This space will allow you space to walk when you water and feed the plants.

Plants being flowered on two (2) stops will need stopping again this month along with late struck cuttings being flowered on first crown. Take care with watering only give water to the roots if the plant really needs it, very often an overhead spray will perk the plants up.

Feeding will normally start after the plants have been in their final pots for about six (6) weeks. Some growers use liquid feeds whilst others use powders. Neither is right or wrong. What is important is that the food is available to the plant as easily as possible. More plants are spoilt by overfeeding at this time so go easy.

Any basal growth that appears needs to be removed at ground level. Keep lateral growth to a manageable level. You don't want a forest of growth to cut down when the buds need securing, leave what you need plus one or two (1 or 2) spare in case of accidents.

Learn to read your plants for both vigour and condition of growth. Keep your eye out for pest attack. Plants will benefit from a regular sequence of spraying for pests and diseases.

Keep your record sheets up to date.

(July)

This is the month of the earwig, they can cause untold damage so check all cane tops have been filled with putty. A weak solution of Jeyes fluid watered round the pots is said to deter them. A weak solution can also be sprayed onto the foliage to deter aphids, leaf miners and other pests.

Lower leaves will start to turn yellow as the stems ripen . This is a natural process and nothing to worry about simply remove them. Sometimes a bud will appear on the plant earlier than required so it is best to "run on". This means rubbing out the bud and letting a new shoot develop just below the bud.

By now you should be feeding on a regular basis either weekly or twice a week at half strength. At the end of the month it is also a good idea to give a top dressing to all plants.

Keep a close eye on the watering, only water if it is really necessary. Also check for caterpillars if any are found spray all plants with a preparation recommended for caterpillar control. If you found just one it probably means there are many more.

 

This is a good month to visit other growers. The plants should be growing happily, so try to visit other growers to see how yours compare to theirs. Note the length and strengths of laterals, leaf colour and count, texture and size.

(August)

Buds of large and medium exhibition should be appearing so secure this bud as soon as possible. Securing the bud means removing all buds except for the central bud. Once you have secured the bud remove the spare lateral, either cut if down a couple of inches a day or remove it all at once. The "experts" have differing views on this so make you own mind up on one or the other. Now is a good time to give these plants another top dressing as well as their normal feed.

As side shoots appear these should be removed along with any basal growth. Remove basal growth at ground level. New growth will appear later and may be used to produce next years new plants. Continue to spray for pests and diseases regularly.

Towards the third week buds will be appearing in the incurves as well as the large reflexes and decoratives. Secure these buds and remove any spare laterals. You need even laterals along with even bud if you are to enjoy even blooms. Top dress these plants and feed as normal except for the incurves which will only need one (1) more feed after they have been top dressed. Further feeding can lead to damping off at flowering time.

Make sure the greenhouse is empty and clean in readiness for the plants to be housed next month. Check heaters and fans are in working order. Put shading on the roof and on the top half of the sides. Make a point of checking an up to date classification of your cultivars. It can be both embarrassing and disappointing to find on show day a cultivar has been reclassified and you didn't know.

(September)

The buds of large and medium exhibition are now swelling at a fair rate. This being the case the time for housing will soon be with us. If you didn't get round to cleaning and washing the greenhouse last month get on with it now. Shade the roof with muslin and check heaters and fans are working correctly. When this is all done fumigate with a sulphur candle or insecticide/fungicide.

Towards the middle of the month buds of incurves, reflexes and intermediates will begin to swell. Keep up the round of disbudding and deshooting along with your regular thorough inspections. Continue to spray for aphids adding a fungicide at this time to the solution. Some Japs may be showing colour and should be housed or have bud bags placed over them.

Before any plant is taken into the greenhouse any weeds must be removed from its pot. Dead or decaying leaves must also be removed. The plant then needs a good spray with both an insecticide and fungicide. To do this it is best to support the bud(s)with split canes tilt them and spray both top and underside of leaves. Allow the plant to dry before placing it in the green house. As the month nears its end the incurves, reflexes and intermediates will be starting to show colour. These should receive the same treatment as the large and medium exhibition. Once housed the door and vents should be left open for the first week to get the plants used to being inside. Keep a close eye on watering in the greenhouse. Always water as early in the day as possible, this allows any spillage to evaporate before nightfall. Never let the plant dry out now it is inside.

(October)

The blooms of some large and medium Japs may now be far enough forward to begin bloom feeding. Bloom feeding can be started when the blooms are about one third open and should be a high nitrogen soluble feed (Vitax 3.0.1.). As other blooms reach this stage they should be treated the same.

Damping is possibly the greatest hazard facing the chrysanth grower. It is more likely if the air is damp. With this in mind try to keep the air as dry as possible. This can be achieved if the door is kept closed, thus causing the warm air to rise to bloom height while the cool air remains close to the ground. Try to keep a fan going as well thereby keeping the air moving. Inside temperature should be five to ten degrees higher than that outside.

Keep checking for aphids and earwigs. Earwigs are best found at night with a torch. Spraying to control these pests is no longer possible so fumigation is the answer. Remember do not fumigate in bright sunlight, leave the greenhouse closed overnight and do not re-enter until it has been well ventilated.

Continue to trim basal growth, anything bigger than half an inch trim to soil level. Remove dead or decaying leaves.

If things have gone well now is one of the best times of the year. Blooms will be well on the way out and its time to enjoy the last ten or eleven months work. Check the schedules of shows you hope to exhibit at. Check your cultivars are classified correctly a slip up could cost a trophy.

(November)

Its show time. As you are selecting your blooms for the shows mark all plants that produce your best blooms. These are the ones you want to keep for next seasons cuttings. Its no good cutting your best blooms, taking them to a show and later not knowing which plant produced them.

Visit as many shows and other growers as possible. This will give you some idea of how others have coped compared to yourself. Note any plants you may want to grow next season and who grew them.

As November draws to a close the season comes to a close. Cut down the main stem to about twelve inch. Remove the plant from its pot, trim back the roots and box up in fresh compost. Take down the muslin shading to allow full daylight to encourage new growth. Continue to check for aphids on stools and spray at first sight.

(December)

First job is to make sure you have enough record sheets available for all cultivars you wish to grow next year. The sheets should contain spaces for the following information:- Name of cultivar, rooting date, all potting dates, all stopping dates,dates and type of feed, Date bud secured, colour show, quality of blooms and quantity to be grown.

This done set up the propagating bench.Place on cable stools of plants that you need for cutting material at the end of the month. Keep the compost moist and spray the stools with tepid water.

Check stocks of canes, pots, labels, peat, loam and grit.

Physical tasks are almost at a stand still at this time of year. Take this opportunity to read through last years record sheets and make notes of any changes you need to make next year.

Enjoy the Christmas and New year holiday break. Once the new year is with us its time to look forward to the first flushes of new cutting material.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and have a good New Season.

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