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2001 Paul Barlow




In the short time that my pages have been published I have received many requests for information. This FAQ page lists some of the most common questions. Of course when we are working with mother nature we can't always guarantee the results! 

NOTE: The following is based on U.K. experience and common practices adopted by chrysanthemum growers in the U.K. There will be different experience and different practices in other parts of the world.


Q: What should I do with my chrysanthemum plants when flowering has finished?
A: In most circumstances the plant will die back naturally after flowering. At this point the old flowering stems can be reduced in length. Plants should then be dug up and the roots trimmed back a bit. The old stems can be further reduced as they dry out, eventually to about 6 inches. The old root can then be 'boxed up' in new compost, removing any remaining leaves and nipping back any early growth from around the base of the root. Be careful not to pull the basal growth off the root.

They should then be kept in good light and frost free through the winter with compost gently moist. In Jan/Feb time  new growth should begin to emerge from around the base of the old root and possibly on the stem itself. As these growths appear more moisture will be required, and depending on the weather, more heat. These new growths can be propagated to produce new plants by snapping them off when they are about 2-3 inches long. Alternatively it is possible to leave the shoots on the old plant and re-plant everything in the spring. Plants created from newly rooted growth tend to be more vigorous than those left on the old plant and they will almost always be a replica of the original.

Follow the 'Getting started' link for more information.

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Q: When should I cut blooms for a show?
A: Blooms are normally cut 24 to 48 hours before the show date and kept in relatively deep water to allow the stems and petals to charge themselves up. I normally cut my blooms on Thursday afternoon/evening for a Saturday show. If I had a large number of blooms for a Saturday Show I would perhaps make a start on Wednesday evening, but no sooner.
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Q: Do chrysanthemums need lots of water?
A: Chrysanthemums are vigorous plants with active root systems. As the plants grow during summertime the increase in number of leaves and total leaf area mean that moisture loss through the leaves can be considerable. When blooms are forming and petals elongate it is the moisture taken in by the roots that plays a big part in influencing individual petal size and ultimately, overall bloom size. Of course, cultural technique and previous treatment in terms of feeding and climate conditions will also play a part in determining bloom size and quality.

So, the answer is yes, adequate moisture at the roots is required.

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Q: What light conditions do they do best in?
A: Chrysanthemums will not grow too well when kept in shady conditions. It is recommended that they are grown in light, airy conditions.
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Q: How do I propagate new plants?
A: Chrysanthemums are usually propagated from cuttings. These are new growths that appear on the old plant during winter and early spring. When cuttings reach about 2-3 inches in length they can be snapped of and propagated individually to form new plants.

The 'Getting Started' page has some pictures and more information on propagation.

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Q: When is the best time to put my plants outdoors?
A: In the UK most growers will plant our during the first half of May. In some areas it may be a little later as there is still a risk of frost that may damage the tender young growing tips.
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Q: How do I keep the blooms clean and pest free?
A: Most growers use some form of control against aphids, blackfly and earwigs. As blooms begin to form they present an ideal place for such pests to hide. Because of this many growers resort to the use of paper bags that are inflated and placed over the developing flower, thus keeping these pests at bay.

The 'Bloom Protection' page shows several methods for bagging blooms.

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Q: Do Chrysanthemums grow from seed?
A: Yes chrysanthemums do grow from seeds but it's likely that every plant grown from seed will be different both from the plant next to it and from it's parents. Many new cultivars are created this way.  The surest way to get  the types you want is to take cuttings as described above.

Q: Could you explain Soilless Compost?  Is it just pure peat or do I have to add something to it?
A: Soilless compost is any compost that does not contain a soil component in it's makeup. It can be peat based, coir based, bark based etc. These materials are generally deficient in nutrient so they have to be added as fertilisers. When you buy Soilless compost from the garden centre or DIY shop it already has the nutrients added and is ready for use. Garden centre soilless composts  don't usually have any grit or sand in the formula.

If you make it up a compost yourself the normal formula is 3 parts peat to 1 part sharp sand/grit to which is added either a soilless potting base or fertilisers to your own formula. There are a few formulae listed in the National Chrysanthemum Society   'Chrysanthemum Manual'. Most gardening books should give advice in this area.

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Last updated on 06 February, 2002