Chrysanthemums are such valuable plants

A colourful chrysanthemum display is one of the staples of the annual flower shows. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
A colourful chrysanthemum display is one of the staples of the annual flower shows. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
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The warm inner glow that comes with anticipation of gardening treats was present last week as I thumbed through a copy of Woolmans’ latest Chrysanthemum and Ornamental Plant Catalogue.

Its early and late flowering varieties are sent by post in May so this act of brinkmanship in adding to an existing collection was spot on. They’ll arrive any day now.

Perfection is what the judges are looking for at our annual flower shows, and the well-grown chrysanthemum bloom – be it reflexing, incurving or intermediate – always adds quality. It’s no wonder given the hours of commitment in growing, protecting and preparing individual flowers for staging.

Chrysanthemums are such valuable ornamental plants, offering a continuous supply of cut flowers throughout summer, continuing to December and beyond under glass.

Grown commercially as pot plants, they are available in flower any week of the year, thanks to special growing houses, with replacement lighting and height-reducing compounds that make them ideal for pot plant culture.

Getting into cultivating a few is straight forward.

Buy a pack of early outdoor types at the garden centre and plant them into a piece of land or container that has received a general fertiliser and catches some sun. Offer supporting canes and water when necessary.

They’re perennials so I look upon the initial cost as an investment, saving the parent plant over winter, rooting stem cuttings from early spring growth, and repeating the process year-on-year.

We have two dozen plants well rooted and standing in pots outside ready for planting. They will provide the main cut flowers display over summer.

Last year’s specimens will be settled into spare land to offer extra blooms. Allow them time to settle in, then pinch out the tips of any that have not started to branch naturally. These are the early flowering types.

Late flowering chrysanthemums are a breed apart. They do not form display buds until day length begins to shorten in late summer.

Several have the capacity to entertain with large blooms in deepest winter, so for convenience they are grown in pots that can be transferred to the greenhouse or conservatory late in the season.

Make the transfer to a bigger pot in stages as plants develop, then stand them outside in a sheltered, sunny spot over summer.

Constant watering, occasional feeding, and regular removal of unproductive side shoots continues over summer.