Do you have “chrysanthemania?” There are several symptoms:
The quickening of the pulse when standing in front of a display where the big mums are “showing off” in the fall and the feeling of envy when a fellow gardener casually shows you an exhibition size mum they have grown in their garden.
There’s no absolute cure for this delightful condition. It can only be arrested by keeping within limits imposed by your garden space and the amount of time and effort you can spend on these fall gems.
Rules For Growing Disbudded Chrysanthemums
While disbudded chrysanthemums are more difficult to grow than marigolds, there are but few rules which must be followed religiously followed to obtain good results.
These include the following:
- Adequate feeding
- Provision for keeping the stems straight
- Removal of side buds as required
- Some protection against fall frosts where it is necessary.
Choose Two Varieties To Plant
Beginners should limit themselves to one or two good varieties the first year.
Silver Sheen, a full incurved white, and Mrs. H. E. Kidder, an incurved yellow, are ideal and high on the list of preferred mums.
Planting Roor Cuttings
Plant the rooted cuttings in their permanent garden location during May or June.
If the plants are to be disbudded, set them about a foot apart, working a handful of 5-10-5 fertilizer or shredded manure into the soil well below the roots.
If you’re not going to disbud, plant them 18″ inches apart.
At planting time, it is best to provide support since the plants will ultimately grow 5′ or 6′ feet tall.
If only a few plants are grown, it is possible ‘to use stakes. Eventually, however, a post and wire system will prove more practical.
From posts set at the corners of the bed and cross pieces, I run a wire about 5′ feet above the row and another just above the soil level, parallel with the row.
I stretch heavy mason’s twine between these wires, running alongside each plant.
The stem is tied to the twine with paper-covered wire twist ties as the plant grows.
The first tie is made when the top is several inches above the lower wire and the second when the plant is 18″ inches high.
From that point on, I remove the lower tie and move it up whenever the growth of the stem demands it.
As the blooming time approaches, it is best to have the top tie close to the bloom to prevent it from breaking.
Adequate water is necessary during the growing season, but the ground should never be allowed to remain water-soaked.
I find that a 2- or 3-inch mulch will solve the problem of too little or too much water.
I like to use a layer of partially decomposed leaves with a layer of sifted leaf mold on top.
Control Pests And Diseases
Diseases are not likely to occur in the fresh ground when healthy cuttings are planted, but insects, particularly aphids, may cause trouble.
I have found that the surest way of controlling insects is with a systemic poison, which is absorbed into the plant through the roots and poisons the insect as it feeds.
Sodium selenate in P-40, 1 ½ to a maximum of 3 pounds per 100 square feet, does an all-season job.
I mix P-40 with twice the amount of 5-10-5 fertilizer and spread half about 2 weeks after the plants are set out, just before the mulch is put on, and the remainder about two weeks to a month later.
In addition to this feeding, several applications of plain 5-10-5 fertilizer are applied at 3 pounds per 100 square feet before the buds show color.
One of the most controversial subjects in growing disbudded chrysanthemums is the actual mechanics of disbudding.
Depending on the planting date, the plant will normally send out 3 or 4 shoots from the main stem below the growing point in June or July.
At this time, the grower has to decide whether to allow each one to produce a flower or disbud.
If all bloom, the flowers will be half the size of the florists’ blooms and flat rather than rounded.
If two shoots are allowed to continue, the blooms will rival those of the florists’ display.
However, when only one shoot is left to flower, the resulting bloom will be larger.
Naturally, all side shoots should be removed from the stem as they appear.
Also, remove any central flower buds (crown buds) which form before August 15, retaining one of the side shoots.
Provide Protection During Heavy Frosts
If your section is plagued with heavy frosts in late October, you will have to protect the blooms.
A cover that can be put on when frost threatens and removed when the weather is warm is satisfactory.
After blooming, the plants may be lifted and stored in a cold frame.
As soon as the ground freezes hard, they should be mulched with salt hay.
The following April, after the shoots on the old plants is well under way, cuttings can be taken. These are best rooted in moist builder’s sand.
The cycle has now been completed, and you should be thoroughly afflicted with “chrysanthemania,” which I think is the most delightful ailment anyone could have.