Chrysanthemums one of best choices for cut flowers

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I cannot imagine growing plants for cut flowers without chrysanthemums.

They go hand in glove with dahlias, extending the prospect of flowers for vases deep into December.

Spectacular as the large-flowered incurving, reflexing and intermediate blooms are, we adore the multi-bloomed spray type that have just run out of steam.

Last week, we cut down the spent stems and lifted the perennial roots, ready for packing together in deep trays with reused potting compost. They’ll stand on the greenhouse staging over winter and produce new shoots early next year.

Those will be rooted in the propagating frame and increase our stock of white and pink varieties.

All the potted plants that needed rescuing from the garden came indoors a few weeks ago, most to the conservatory but a few to the cold greenhouse.

Since then, we’ve had second thoughts about a young standard olive tree in a large pot that has some small fruits in place.

The leaves were curling slightly, possibly because of the low temperature.

It’s not yet reliably hardy, I guessed, and, sure enough, a move to the conservatory has perked it up. Sometimes, you just have to follow your instincts.

An acquaintance who has started growing penstemons, asked recently whether taller varieties should be pruned before deepest winter and, if so, how severely.

My tallest reach 2ft and they’re pruned halfway back now, then more severely as new shoots appear in spring. This is to avoid broken or damaged stems via wind, rain or weight of snow, yet it leaves enough growth for protection.

In the past, these plants were not reliably hardy and had to be lifted, replanted in boxes and stored in the greenhouse.

Several modern varieties stand up to moderate frost much better, but I still take stem cuttings of special cultivars just in case.

We continued taking cuttings of potted plants and border perennials throughout November.

They’re in a propagating frame situated in the cold greenhouse. It has one square metre of space that is used continuously – arguably the most important part of the garden.