CHRYSANTHEMUM

The Chrysanthemum fits the definition of a hobby plant exactly – there are innumerable varieties and a long list of technical terms. Both experience and skill are required to ensure success and the plants have been classified into a profusion of groups, classes, sections and subsections. Despite (or because of) this complexity the Chrysanthemum is perhaps Britain’s top hobby perennial and is surpassed only by the Rose as our No. 1 garden plant for the enthusiast.

Size and perfection of each bloom rather than the overall appearance of each plant are the aims of the enthusiast, but the Chrysanthemum is also a fine subject for general garden display. It comes in many forms – there is the Annual Chrysanthemum which is a colourful hardy plant raised quite easily from seed, and amongst the herbaceous perennials you will find the Shasta Daisy. But these are merely unimportant relatives of the late summer-and autumn-flowering plants which are raised afresh each year from cuttings.

Technically these are Florists’ Chrysanthemums and all bear dark green, lobed leaves. The first choice you will have to make is whether you want an Outdoor or Greenhouse variety – not a difficult decision. The Outdoor Group contains a large number of sections but the basic alternative is between a Small-flowered type for general garden display (and not much work) or a Decorative type with larger blooms which will need staking and stopping. Staking will be necessary to support the flower-heads and stopping (the removal of the emum growing tip) is necessary to make the plant flower earlier, improve the shape of the bush and to increase the size of the blooms.

Things are much more difficult if you want flowers for exhibiting – the first stopping and sometimes a second stopping must be timed with great care so that the blooms will be at their best on the day of the show. The varieties grown for exhibition are usually tall and disbudding (the removal of every small shoot and flower bud clustered under the central main bud) is necessary to allow the chosen bud to develop fully. This single bloom at the top of each stem may need protection from the elements by bagging (the enclosure of the flower in a paper bag) or by covering the plant with polythene sheeting.

So much for the Outdoor types – easy to grow or very demanding, depending on your reason for growing them. The Greenhouse varieties start to come into flower as the Outdoor ones fade in October, and once again the choice is between general display and cut-flower production. For cut flowers choose an Exhibition variety and the ritual of stopping and disbudding is essential; blooms 10 in. or more in diameter can be produced.

Much has been written about the long history of Chrysanthemums in the garden. They were grown in Japan more than 2,500 years ago, but all the spectacular facets of this fascinating flower came with the 20th century.

Cascade varieties

Pendulous stems have to be trained

Stopping is necessary in the first week of June if no natural breaks have occurred.

Disbudding is not required

Stopping and disbudding are required

OUTDOOR VARIETIES

Other names: Early-flowering Chrysanthemums Border Chrysanthemums Includes all varieties which bloom in a normal season in open ground before the end of September without any protection.

Small-flowered Decorative Decorative varieties varieties for varieties for for cut flowers garden display garden display

Stopping is necessary in the first week of June if no natural breaks have occurred.

Disbudding is generally not necessary

GREENHOUSE VARIETIES

Other name: Late-flowering Chrysanthemums

Includes all varieties which normally bloom between October and late December under glass.

Flowering pot plants

Decorative varieties for cut flowers

Stopping and disbudding are required

Dwarf varieties of standard types, Charm varieties and Marguerites.

Stopping may be necessary but disbudding is not required

ROOT DIVISIONS

In spring the outer portions of last year’s stools can be detached, each bearing new shoots and roots. These clumps can be used to propagate all Chrysanthemums, but in practice they are only used for Korean Hybrids. Cuttings are more successful.

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