CHRYSANTHEMUM

This very large and varied group of plants includes easy annuals and perennials for the garden as well as the well-known ‘florists’ chrysanthemums, some of which can be grown outdoors but are best left for the specialist.

Suitable site and soil. Annual and perennial kinds like a sunny site in a light, fertile, well-drained soil. The perennials are said to prefer lime, but this is not true in practice.

Cultivation and care. Sow annuals in late spring where they are to grow. They will germinate in about 2 weeks and start to flower in midsummer. The taller ones (60cm – 2ft) usually need the support of pea sticks. To obtain long flower stems for 40 cutting, pinch out the first flower buds. Cut back all perennial kinds to ground level in late autumn.

Propagation. Take cuttings of perennial kinds 5-8cm – 2-3in long from the base of the plant in mid-spring and insert in an equal mixture of peat and sand. Root on a cool window-sill. Established plants can be lifted and divided at the same time.

Recommended varieties. Annuals: C. carinatum has flowers 5-8cm – 2-3in across, with a purple central disc on stems 45-60cm – 18-24in; seed strains include ‘Merry Mixed’ and ‘Court Jesters Mixed’. Perennials: C. maximum (Shasta daisy) ‘Wir-ral Supreme’ is large and white (90cm – 3ft); ‘Snowcap’ is very large and white (less than 60cm – 2ft).

Pests and diseases. Birds may damage the flowers. Frost will cause the buds to brown.

CREATING BIGGER BLOOMS

If you want really large flower heads on your exhibition type chrysanthemums you will: ‘. need to cut off some of the side shoots. Simply break off the weaker shoots to leave five healthy ones on the plant.

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