Signpost | Archives | News Page  | Global Calendar | Aberdeen Show | Newsgroup | Homepage

2001 Paul Barlow

Getting started with Chrysanthemums

This page is for visitors with little or no knowledge of chrysanthemum growing. Unfortunately, at the highest level of competition the subject can become quite technical. Fortunately it doesn't have to be this way to obtain first class blooms and sprays.

This page covers acquisition of plants and basic propagation.

Local societies:
Most towns and cities have a Chrysanthemum and Dahlia society. This is always a good place to start because new members are the lifeblood of these societies and a warm welcome is usually guaranteed. This is also a good place to acquire plants as most growers propagate more than they intend to grow . Surplus plants are typically given away to new members along with advice and help throughout the season.
Specialist plant suppliers:
There are a number of specialist chrysanthemum breeders and plant suppliers. You will normally find their adverts in the gardening press, but if not then the local or national society will be able to advise you how to make contact with these suppliers.
Taking cuttings:
The picture opposite shows the structure of a chrysanthemum stool. A stool is the root system and remains of the main stem from the plants that were grown in the previous year. These will have been lifted and boxed up at the end of the flowering season and kept frost free in light. airy conditions over winter. Many growers will wash the soil from the stool, trim the root system and use fresh compost in the boxing up process.

During December and January new growth will emerge from the old stool. These growths are the cuttings for the new season. Cuttings may appear from the base or the stem of the stool.

Rooting medium:
My particular preference is for a soilless compost with the addition of perlite. I also spread perlite over the surface of the compost before inserting the cuttings. I believe this improves drainage around the base of the cutting and helps to reduce the likelihood of rotting at the base of the cutting.

Propagation containers:
I find ordinary seed trays and the 40 cell plug trays are the most convenient containers. 40 plants in a single tray is quite tight so I normally move the newly rooted cuttings into 3 inch pots quite soon after they are removed from the propagator. This helps to prevent cuttings becoming thin and drawn due to overcrowding.

I like to snap each cutting off the stool at about 3 inches long and then snap again below a leaf joint to leave a cutting about two inches. The picture to the right shows three cuttings prepared for insertion into the propagating medium (after dipping in hormone rooting powder) and two cuttings (far right) still to be snapped to length and lower leaves removed.

I prefer to snap cuttings rather than use a knife or razor blade because it is possible to transfer disease from cutting to cutting when using a knife, but also if a cutting snaps readily then I feel it is in good condition for propagation.

A good rooted cutting:
The cutting to the left is of the incurved cultivar 'Lorna Wood' (13b W). I find it is particularly vigourous in generating a root system. The abundance of white root hairs is a good indication to the health of newly rooted cuttings. This plant is ready to be moved on into a larger container, probably a 3.5" pot.
My propagation system:
my system consists of a propagating blanket. This is a heavy duty aluminium blanket with a copper wire running through it . There is a sensitive thermostat which controls the temperature through a remote sensor that is inserted into the rooting medium alongside the cuttings. I set the thermostat at 65F and try to control the air temperature in the greenhouse so that it does not fall below 40F.

The components of the propagating setup are:-
- a base board to keep things flat and support the blanket;
- 1" polystyrene tiles for insulation;
- the blanket itself;
- a sheet of heavy duty polythene to protect the blanket;
- finally, capillary matting to keep the containers moist.

If you would like further information or wish to comment on this publication please send your e-mail to:

Navigation: Top of Page Homepage

Last updated on 18 December, 2001