This page has been compiled based on my diary notes over many years and assembled into a month by month description of the jobs I do in growing of early chrysanthemums. For most chrysanthemum growers the year actually starts at flowering time in September.
Plants that are healthy and have produced the best blooms, are marked with a coloured tag or twistits around the stem. These plants will provide the propagating material for the following year. After flowering is complete all stools are cut down to about 18" and any basal growth trimmed back to soil level. Any remaining leaves are also removed.
Fresh compost is used in the boxing up process, ideally this new compost should be moist, a light watering is given if I think the compost is too dry.
Trays and containers are then stored in a cold greehouse and kept frost free.
My soil is quite light and well drained so winter digging is not required. A top dressing using mushroom compost is sometimes applied during this month and left to overwinter on the top of the beds.
During the long nights there is time to work on the growing plan for next year - how many of each cultivar, where in the plot etc. Also any planned changes in stopping dates are noted at this time.
Propagation starts this month for some of the October classified cultivars and others requiring an early rooting date. Typically Woolley Pride, Chessingtons and Lyn Johnson are started off in the first half of the month.
Soil and compost is sterilised using the steam steriliser. Over the next two months I should be able to sterilise enough to cover my needs throughout the season.
Soil and compost sterilisation continues as does an eye on the weather. Severe frost and snow are regular visitors during January.
Depending on rate of growth, some of the first rooted cuttings are moved on into individual 3.5" pots or 12 plants per standard seed tray.
The earlier rooted cuttings are moved on into individual 3.5" pots or 12 plants per standard seed tray. Compost is mixed to my own formula in readiness for further potting.
Soil samples are taken from each of the chrysanthemum growing areas and sent away for analysis.
Plants continue to be moved on into individual pots and seed trays. Some of the earliest ones may also be moved into the next size pots (5" or 6") if the smaller pots have become filled with roots.
Watering is done on an as needed basis. Root growth is what I'm looking for - not top growth.
Soil analysis results come back this month and any pH correction is carried out. My pH is usually lower than I would like so this means adding ground limestone according the recommendations. More compost is mixed to meed the considerable need when moving into the next size pots.
All remaining plants will be moved into the next size pots during this month. Weather permitting I can now move some plants into the cold greenhose and cold frame. If frost threatens then a few layers of newspaper placed gently over the top of the plants is usually sufficient to prevent frost damage.
The chrysanthemum plots are dug over in the early part of this month in preparation for planting out in early May.
All plants are watered a day or two before planting takes place and when planted each plant is secured to the bamboo cane to prevent wind damage. Spare laterals are removed at this time, although some cultivars will be allowed to carry a spare for a week or two longer.
The outdoor plots are protected on all sides using windbreak netting. This will stay in place throughout the season.
In one greenhouse the top row of glass is removed to help with air circulation and to keep the temperature down.
Both greenhouses are shaded using a proprietary greenhouse shading product. The roof, sides and ends are all shaded.
The earliest buds may reach calyx split during this month and will be bud bagged until there are sufficient buds at this stage to warrant putting up the overhead protection.
Additional shading is put in place in each greenhouse. This is green netting on a roll-up/roll-down system to give additional flexibility.
Plants are never allowed to dry out after the buds are visible.
Any basal growth is trimmed back to soil level. Lower leaves are removed as they have made their contribution, this also allows better air movement between the plants under the covers and in the greenhouses.
Show schedules are reviewed and plans made for time off work to (hopefully) exhibit at the chosen shows.
If you would like further information or wish to comment on this publication please send your e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Last updated on 26 December, 2001