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Caring For Chrysanthemums

Chrysanthemums are grown either in beds or benches, when the flowers alone are desired, but are to some extent grown in large pots, both as standard and bush plants, for purposes of decoration. The treatment required for each kind of plant is somewhat different. The bench and the bed both have their advocates for growing the flowers, but while some varieties seem to do better in one than in the other, it is probably true that plants in the benches are least likely to suffer from over-watering. Good blooms can be obtained in either bench or bed.

Unless top-dressing and liquid manuring are used to supply most of the plant food, the soil should be composed of about one part half-rotted cow manure and three parts thick sods, prepared as recommended for roses. If the soil is at all stiff, a small amount of sand should be added. At the bottom of the solid beds it is customary to place a layer of sods, with the grass side down, and cover them with about eight inches of the compost. The bottom of the benches often has an inch of rotten cow manure on it, with four to six inches of the prepared soil. An alternative to manure is to use commercial fertilizers prepared with special formulas.

During the early part of the season, the flowers are grown either singly on the plants or as "sprays," but later on the plants are trained to a single stem with one flower at the top. The cuttings for early flowers should be struck as soon as the first of April, and other batches should follow at intervals up to the first of July, when the cuttings for the single stem plants can be struck.

The best cuttings are obtained from shoots that are firm and that have short internodes. Slender and wiry shoots, and also the weak and watery ones, should be avoided. The cuttings should not be over three and a half inches long, with the leaves on the lower half removed and the others reduced one-half in size. They may be rooted in small pots, pans or boxes, although if many are grown a cutting bed is desirable. The cuttings are inserted about half their length, in rows two inches apart, and about one inch in the rows. While bottom heat will hasten their rooting, it is not necessary, and good results will be obtained if placed near the glass, at a temperature of fifty degrees, even without bottom heat. If particularly fine plants with large blooms are desired for exhibition purposes, the cuttings should be placed singly in small pots containing a mixture of sand and compost at the bottom, and sand at the top.

When the roots are half an inch long they should be potted, as they will be less likely to wilt than if the roots have become longer and are broken in potting. Place in two and one-half-inch pots, using a compost of rotten sods, loam and sand. Keep at 50 to 55 degrees, and from this time never allow the plants to suffer for lack of water, food, air, or room. When the roots show through the soil, repot into the three and one-half-inch size, using a little richer compost, and when the roots have filled the pots, have the beds or benches ready and plant out at once, which, for the first batch, should be the last of May or the first of June. Have the soil firmly pressed down upon the beds and just moist enough to work well. The distance for planting will depend something upon the number or flowers to be grown upon a plant. If more than one variety is grown in a bed, place the taller ones at the north end in a north and south house, so that they will not shade the others. As a rule, the rows across the beds are ten or twelve inches, and the plants eight inches in the rows when three or more flowers are grown to a plant, or six inches each way if the plants are to be grown to single stems.

Water the plants thoroughly, and until they become established syringe them often, and shade the roof, using whitewash, or better, white lead and naphtha, mixed so as to make a thin wash. Until the roots have taken hold, care will be necessary to keep the soil from becoming saturated. In about a week, give the surface a good stirring and if more than one flower is desired from a plant, pinch out the tip buds to make them branch. As the side buds push out, rub them off at once, unless several flowers are desired, when we should allow three or four to grow and rub off the others. If more than this number of buds is desired to a plant, pinch out the end buds in the side shoots when they have made a growth of two or three inches, and allow two shoots to start from each, rubbing off all others.

Submitted by:

Mazliza Othman

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