Late chrysanthemums come into their own at this time of year. For me, they exude class and there’s a great pleasure in cutting enough for a vase. Large mop-headed types cost a fortune per bloom in city markets, perfectly understandable when you consider the many months of care involved. Rooting, potting-up and potting-on, feeding and watering, removing side shoots, stopping, disbudding, pest control, are but some of the operations involved on the journey to show-stopping blooms.
But I prefer the arguably easier route of growing spray chrysanthemums which can be just as satisfying. Friend Alan turned up with some stools (perennial roots with shoots) in spring and we added these to an existing collection raised from cuttings. All were planted near the asparagus bed whose autumn foliage enhances them. The first cut for a vase display came last week.
Once flowering’s over everything is cut down to soil level leaving only a small stump for handling purposes. The stools are dug up, labelled, and packed close together in a tray which is topped up with compost. Mine stand on a bench in the cold greenhouse and I anticipate shoots early in the year. Once these are almost finger-length they are dressed as cuttings and placed in a gritty rooting medium. The cycle starts all over again.
Late chrysanthemums are so-called because the flower buds will not begin to form until day-length reduces to 14 hours.
So autumn is not all gloom and doom, rather the beginning of special treats for gardeners!