What Will Chrysanthemums Add To My Garden?
First of all, they will add lots of colors when needed most—from late summer, when most flowers begin to wane, until the first killing frost in late fall.
And the color range of chrysanthemums is by no means limited, for it includes many shades of purple, red, pink, bronze, yellow, and white.
They will also add the rich, deep green of their foliage throughout the whole season.
And, what is of great importance to any gardener, chrysanthemums require a minimum of care and, with a bit of protection, will come up each year.
Where Should I Buy My Plants? When?
Many of the large nurseries that sell trees, flowering shrubs, bulbs, and so forth also sell chrysanthemums. Many nurseries specialize in chrysanthemums.
If it is necessary to order plants from a nursery some distance away, don’t be concerned about the condition of the plants when they arrive, for chrysanthemums, if packed carefully, ship exceptionally well.
If you live in an area where the winters are severe, buy plants from a nursery specializing in varieties that withstand freezing temperatures.
Since chrysanthemums are best planted in the spring, they should be ordered as soon as you make your selections.
If you get your order in early, you will have a better chance of obtaining the varieties you want.
What Are The Best Varieties For Me To Buy?
Before you order your chrysanthemums, study the catalogs carefully, noting the following:
- Blooming date
- Color of each variety
When making your selections, it is essential to pick varieties that will extend the bloom period. Therefore, include some early-blooming and late-blooming varieties in your order.
The low-growing “cushion” chrysanthemums would be more appropriate for the edge of a walk, driveway, or chrysanthemum border.
These mound-shaped plants grow only 10″ to 15″ inches high and cover themselves with blooms.
Where Should I Plant My Chrysanthemums?
There are many places around the home where chrysanthemums can be well used.
They may be planted before a border of shrubs (such as the foundation planting), in a garden of perennials, or a bed by themselves.
The cushion varieties may also be used to edge a driveway.
Chrysanthemums are not particular about their soil, but since they do grow better in loamy, well-drained soil, it’s only common sense to provide this, if possible.
If your soil has a lot of clay or sand, work in some compost or peat moss when you prepare the bed.
Chrysanthemums prefer full sun all day, but they will grow if they receive full sun for only 6 hours each day.
How Do I Plant My Chrysanthemums?
At least one week before you plant your chrysanthemums. This extra week will allow time for the soil to settle.
To prepare the bed, do the following:
- Spade the soil to a depth of 8” or 10” inches and mix in compost and peat moss if the soil is predominantly clay or sand.
- After doing this, level the bed and water it thoroughly.
When your plants arrive, inspect them to see if they have dried out any in shipment.
If they have, follow these steps:
- Freshen the plants up by sprinkling them with water or standing them in shallow water in a pail.
- Then let them stand overnight.
- Before planting, add a complete fertilizer (such as 5-10-5 at 4 pounds per 100 square feet) to the planting bed.
- Space the plants about 10” inches apart.
- The cushion chrysanthemums, which spread somewhat, should be spaced slightly farther apart.
- Group 2 or 3 plants of the same variety for the best effect. This will form larger and more effective color masses. Water the plants after setting them out.
How Do I Care For My Chrysanthemums?
The first thing you must do is supply the plants with adequate water. This is particularly important during the critical one- to two-week period white the plants are becoming established.
The best way to water them is to make a saucer-like depression around each plant.
You should know to grow them lay the hose on the ground and then let the water flow over the bed.
A thorough soaking done in this manner will be sufficient for at least a week, even during midsummer’s hot, dry days.
Chrysanthemums should not be sprinkled from overhead for this invites diseases.
After the plants become established, they will proliferate. When they are 6″ inches tall, pinch out the soft growing tip. This pinch will cause the plant to branch at the top.
Later, when the lateral shoots are 6″ inches long, they, too, are pinched. This procedure is continued until July 15.
After this date, pinching is undesirable because it will retard growth and flowering.
However, if the plants are pinched correctly, they will be well-branched and bushy.
Some varieties (not the low-growing cushion ones) may need to be staked, even though they were pinched to induce a bushy habit.
Here are the following steps:
- Set the stakes out soon after planting, placing one about 2″ inches from each plant.
- Drive the stake sufficiently deep to make it sturdy.
- Then, tie the plant to the stake with some soft twine or raffia.
- The twine should be looped loosely around the stem but anchored securely to the stake.
- Then the plant will be held erect, but it will still be able to sway with the wind.
- When the plant gets taller, tie it again to the stake, this time farther up the stem.
- When the plant is in flower, it should be tied securely to the stake at 3 or 4 places.
- When the plants are heavy with bloom and the rain comes, or the wind blows, you’ll be glad your plants are well staked!
If you had little choice and had to grow your chrysanthemums in poor soil, apply a complete fertilizer to the soil in early August.
If you use a 5-10-5 plant food, apply it at 2 pounds per 100 square feet. And if the soil is dry, soak it thoroughly after applying the fertilizer. This will prevent burning the plants.
To keep down the weeds in the bed, you can apply a mulch of leaf mold or peat moss, or you can cultivate the soil.
If you prefer the latter (which is more work!), only scratch the surface, for deep cultivation will injure the roots.
If a mulch is used, it will discourage weeds and retard the evaporation of moisture from the soil.
Will Insects And Diseases Be Troublesome?
Several insects and diseases might attack your chrysanthemums, but each one can be controlled.
Aphids or plant lice may infest the plants, sucking the plant juices from the tender shoots, but they can be controlled easily with nicotine sulfate, sold in garden stores.
Other insects such as the tarnished plant bug and the four-lined plant bug can be eliminated with 5% percent DDT dust or 50% percent wettable DDT spray.
Fungus diseases of the foliage, such as leaf spots, can be controlled with a material containing ferbam.
Sometimes the lower leaves of chrysanthemums turn brown and fall. This is usually due not to disease but to a shock that the plant has received.
This might be due to lack of water (probably the most common cause), root injury caused by deep cultivation, or an excess of fertilizer salts in the soil.
Don’t let this seemingly long list of chrysanthemum attackers discourage you, for many times, a garden of chrysanthemums will be troubled only by aphids.
These are present in every garden and are among the easiest insects to control.
Should I Protect My Plants Over The Winter?
The hardiness of chrysanthemums differs with each variety, but on the safe side, it’s best to protect all the plants during the winter. This protection is most commonly in the form of a light, porous mulch.
After the frost has killed the tops of your plants, do these:
- Cut them off 2″ or 3″ inches above the crown and burn them.
- Then, cover the plants with marsh hay, excelsior, evergreen boughs, or cornstalks after slightly frozen ground.
If chrysanthemums are in a poorly-drained bed and are given a heavy covering such as leaves, they may die out by spring.
So it’s necessary to use leaves and keep them dry by covering them with waterproof paper. This mulch can then be removed in the spring when growth starts again.
You can place one plant of each variety in a cold frame for the winter if you prefer.
These plants will then serve as stock plants from which cuttings may be taken in the spring. For more about taking cuttings, see below.
Should I Divide My Plants Next Spring?
Most garden chrysanthemums (excluding the cushion varieties) should be divided each spring.
Here are the following steps for division:
- Dig up the clump and carefully separate the individual plants.
- Discard the old, woody growth that was in the center.
- Replant each of the divisions, spacing them about 10″ inches apart.
Instead of using divisions of last year’s plants, some gardeners prefer to start each year with rooted cuttings taken from stock plants that have been overwintered in a cold frame.
The advantages of taking cuttings are:
- Less danger of disease
- Better quality blooms
- Growth is less apt to be woody.
This is how cuttings are taken and handled:
- Using only disease-free plants, cut off the top 3″ inches of the stem—this growth should be soft, not woody.
- Make as many cuttings of this soft tip growth as desired.
- Dip the cuttings into a hormone powder to encourage rooting.
- Then insert them in a flat or bulb pan containing sharp builder’s sand, vermiculite, or a mixture of half sand and half peat moss, spacing them 1″ inch apart.
- Firm the rooting medium, and label each variety and water.
- When the cuttings are rooting, give them air and some sun, but protect them from extreme sunlight and wind.
- Water the flat or bulb pan when the surface of the medium becomes dry.
In about 3 weeks, the cuttings will have rooted and produced soft, light green growth at the tips.
At this time, pot up the cuttings singly in 3-inch pots containing soil, leaf mold, and coarse sand.
The rooted cuttings can be planted out in the garden in about 10 days.