CHRYSANTHEMUM

The perennial chrysanthemum is divided into over 20 distinct groups. The outdoor early-flowering varieties are relatively easy to grow well. They should be planted in early May, at least 15 in. apart in carefully prepared ground and where possible well-rotted farmyard manure should be incorporated some months earlier — about 1 barrowload to every 10 sq. yds. Compost is an excellent alternative. Wires running across the length of each row and with crossed strings may be used for support where large numbers of plants are grown. Separate staking is uneconomic and time-wasting for chrysanthemums grown for market; but for garden display, it is best to support each plant individually with 4 ft. bamboo canes.

Some gardeners pinch out the tops of the main stems directly the plants have gained roothold, or even earlier. A more up-to-date method, as practised by market growers, is to ‘stop’ when the required number of shoots have begun to grow. Disbudding is purely a matter of personal preference. Water freely in very dry weather and keep down all weeds. Most of the insect pests attacking outdoor chrysanthemums, e.g. aphids, capsids, earwing, leaf miner and thrips, may be kept down by preventive spraying as needed with a BHC insecticide. Rust can be controlled by a thiram fungicide and a dual purpose spray may be given by mixing the BH C and thiram, thereby tackling pests and diseases simultaneously. (When mixing separate sprays always consult manufacturers’ literature as many materials are not compatible.) Cut down the plants to within 6 in. of soil level, as soon as they finish flowering. Lift the roots and winter in a frostproof frame or in the greenhouse. ‘Stools’ are sometimes left in the ground over the winter but their survival is uncertain.

Outdoor Chrysanthemums are easily increased in February and March by cuttings of young shoots 2— 2 ½ in. long, which must come from below soil level. They are rooted in a sandy compost and potted on singly into John Innes Compost.

Choice of Varieties:. Far too many new varieties are introduced, many definitely no improvement on, nor yet sufficiently distinct from, earlier introductions. Market growers concentrate on a few varieties conforming to certain standards, viz.: colours must be bright and clearly defined with no signs of muddiness; the blooms must travel well and be borne on long, firm stems, which must be wiry just below the actual flower, otherwise it may droop. While amateurs obviously welcome varieties of this type, they need not be too particular. The following list covers a wide colour range and includes both market and purely garden varieties.

Aljreton Exquisite: incurving pink, tipped with green. Excellent for cutting.

Alfreton Yeoman: incurving maroon with silver reverse.

Chatsworth: orange-bronze. A popular market variety. The colour never fades and the rolled petals ensure that rain runs off quickly.

Daydream: pale salmon. Rcflexed petals. Excellent for cutting.

Devonian: rich crimson with gold reverse.

Empire White: incurved white.

Florence Horwood: rose-pink with paler reverse and gold centre. Reflexed petals.

Golden Age: clear yellow. Reflexed petals. Short grower.

Golden Maid: orange-amber. Slightly rolled petals.

Golden Sceptre: golden-yellow. Blooms from mid-August.

Peach Blossom: name describes the colour. Late flowering towards end of September. Reflexed petals.

Red Charter: mahogany-red.

Regal: bright purple. Reflexed petals.

Sweetheart: an early August variety, very popular with market growers.

Rose-pink, gold and cream. Reflexed petals. Excellent for cutting.

There are salmon, yellow, orange and red ‘sports’ of this variety.

Una: incurving pink with silver reverse. Blooms about mid-September.

W. J. Hopkins: pure white, standing up remarkably well to wind and rain.

Zenith: large purple-maroon flowers in late September. Reflexed petals.

Other Outdoor Groups. The Koreans are hardier than the normal border varieties. They are both single and double and the blooms tolerate some frost. They are usually in bloom until late autumn as they also withstand heavy rains. Very long-lasting when cut and easily increased by detaching the rooted offsets in spring. Pinch out the tops when 8—9 m« high? to encourage a bushy habit. The ‘dwarf-growing, very double, golden-yellow Jante Wells is one of the best varieties and is a first-rate subject for window-boxes. Other varieties include the pink Venus, the bronze-red Apollo, the salmon Topsy (all singles) and the crimson Romany (double).

The Otley Koreans associate admirably with gladioli which will flower a month or so earlier. They bloom in September, making very wide compact plants, 15—20 in. tall, which are exceptionally free-flowering. The pink Serenade and the orange-bronze Harvester are especially fine. No stopping is needed.

The Dwarf Lilliputs grow to about 9 in., often carrying several hundred blooms on a plant. Honcybird (amber-orange) and Bashful (reddish-bronze) are good varieties.

Indoor Varieties:

The cultivation of varieties in the various indoor groups, such as the Large Exhibition, Exhibition-Incurved, Incurving Decoratives and so on is a fine art, necessitating much care and patience. For those who are potential exhibitors or who value size above profusion of bloom, the Chrysanthemum ‘ritual5 does not seem unduly laborious. It is impossible here to cover all the essential cultural details such as the various pottings and different methods of stopping according to variety. The enthusiast should consult an authoritative book. If a display of medium-sized blooms is preferred nip out the tips when the plants are about 6 in. tall, and stop the resulting side shoots when 3 or 4 in. high. The plants are taken outside in May after being hardened off in frames. The stems must be securely tied as well as the pots secured from being overturned in boisterous winds. The shelter offered by a wall or hedge is helpful. Water freely in dry weather. The plants should be brought inside towards the end of September and sprayed with BHG or other insecticide to prevent injury by insect pests.

Varieties in the various sections are many and the new introductions are even more frequent than with the outdoor kinds. Nurserymens’ catalogues should be consulted to find the best varieties for a particular purpose e.g. exhibition blooms for November, cut flowers for Christmas and so on.

Chrysanthemum maximum or Shasta Daisy. These are perennial border plants, all with white or near-white flowers, which are first-rate for cutting. Wirral Supreme is a good double to about 21/2 ft. Wirral Pride is rather taller and semi-double. Both varieties seem at their best on heavy land, provided drainage is sound. Esther Read, Horace Read and Jennifer Read are very popular with florists but Esther often winters badly irrespective of soil conditions. Cobham Gold is badly named as there is only a flush of yellow which is admittedly more evident on really heavy soils. All the above prefer spring planting and are easily increased by division every other year — if allowed to remain too long, the blooms deteriorate in quality and quantity.

Annual Chrysanthemums:

These are mostly varieties of C. carinatum (tricolor) and C. coronarium. They include Evening Star (single, light yellow with chocolate centre — 1 ft.) and Golden Crown (double, buttercup-yellow with quilted petals — 3 ½ ft.). Give the ordinary hardy annual treatment.

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