How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums

How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums

Introduction

in this article, I’m going to show you How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums. Chrysanthemums are usually considered herbaceous perennials. They are a genus of 30 species belonging to the family Asteraceae.

Chrysanthemums in landscaping, are used as bedding plants. They look best planted in a mass. Chrysanthemums cut flowers are also favourites of florists for arrangements, due to the longevity of their blooms. Chrysanthemums can also be grown as potted ornamental plants and for exhibition purposes. Flowers are available in a wide variety of colours, including white, off white, yellow, gold, bronze, red, burgundy, pink, lavender and purple. Chrysanthemums are also found in many flower forms; that is Chrysanthemums are often grouped by the shape and arrangement of their petals. Each flower head is referred to horticulturally as a flower even though it does, in fact, comprise a large number of flowers of florists. The different forms that occur in flowers can be daisy-like, decorative, pompons or buttons. A few of the main forms may be described as follows:

How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums
  1. Reflexed – The flower has curved pointed petals reflexing outward and downwards from the crown back to touch the stem
  2. Incurved – Petals arising from the base of the flower and closing tightly over the crown of the flower
  3. Intermediate – Roughly spherical flowers have loosely incurved petals, which may close at the crown or reflex at the bottom half of each flower
  4. Single/ semi-double – Each flower has about 1-5 rows of flat petals borne at right angles to the stem; a prominent central disc is seen which is golden throughout or has a small green centre.
  5. Pompon – Flowers have tubular petals with flat rounded tips growing outward from the crown.
  6. Anemone – Each flower has a central dome-shaped disc up to half the diameter of the bloom and up to 05 rows of flat ray petals at right angles to the stem.

Other shapes may also be seen as described below. Modern Chrysanthemums are more attractive than their wild relatives. This genus contains many hybrids and thousands of cultivars developed for horticultural purposes. The most important hybrid is Chrysanthemum morifolium derived primarily from C. Indicum but also involving other species.

Cultivation

Climatic Conditions

Chrysanthemums can be grown in most part of the country as potted ornamentals or garden plants, except in extremely hot and dry areas.

However, they are sensitive to the amount of light received and required a specific time period of light to induce flowering. When grown as cut flowers they require lower temperature levels as well.

Media Growing System

Chrysanthemums should be planted in full sun and well-drained soil, enriched with compost. Planting in raised beds outdoors is most suitable rather than in pots. A general growing medium such as Topsoil; Compost/Leaf mould: sand: cattle manure 4:2:1:1 can be used for the growing of Chrysanthemums. Plants can grow to be 2-3 feet high, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions, taller plants need to be staked with canes.

Plants should be spaced 18 to 24 inches apart and some of the more vigorous cultivars may need 30 to 36 inches, Enough space should be allowed so the plants can develop to their maximum. All plants should be thoroughly watered after planting. Small plants as soon as they are planted in beds should be shielded from the hot sun for a few days and watered generously once or twice a week. They may be watered each day during the hot season. Planting holes should be dug deeply since Chrysanthemums prefer to be dry at the root system between watering. It is not recommended to grow them in the same spot for more than three consecutive years to help prevent disease and pest problems.

Chrysanthemums are “photoperiodic”  they bloom in response to shorter days and longer nights. Therefore, they should not be planted near street lights or night lights: the artificial lighting may disrupt the Chrysanthemums cycle. Chrysanthemums should not be overcrowded: good air circulation reduces the chance of disease.

Pinching and Training of Plants

As the plants grow, they should be pinched to produce compact plants with more flowers. If this isn’t done, the plants will become tall and leggy. Also if the plants become quite tall. light will be excluded from the lower part of the plants, resulting in unsightly dead leaves.

  • Pinching Chrysanthemums yields compact, bushy plants with more blooms “Pinching” simply means removing the tips of new growth. Thereby stimulating the Chrysanthemums to send out side-shoots.
  • Pinching is the best started when the new growth has reached 4-6 in length
  • Then is continued every 2-3 weeks until the plant is 6” tall
  • When the plants are 6 inches tall, about ¼ of an inch is pinched from each branch to promote more blooms and bushier plants
  • When they reach a foot tall, they may be pinched again

Weeds as with many other plants, may present a problem with growing garden Chrysanthemums. These can be removed by hand or an organic mulch could be used at the time of planting. Materials such as shredded bark, wood chips, paddy husk, sawdust or straw may be used as mulch to help keep weeds down as well as conserving moisture in the soil if applied about two inches deep between plants without causing any interference to the growing medium in the bed. Decorative gravel can also be effective in weed control.

Disbudding

Disbudding or de-budding is also practised in Chrysanthemums to enhance flower size, quality and shape, disbudding accomplishes two things. It concentrates the plant’s energy on the development of fewer flowers, and it regulates the position of the blooms on the branch so that each may open unhindered. On the largest flowering types, it is best to remove all buds except for the one on the top. Once the flowering cycle is complete older mature shoots that have already flowered may be pruned down to encourage new shoot formation and allow time for a short resting period. Plants need to produce new growth and foliage to sustain the next cycle of flowering.

Irrigation

An important cultural practice with Chrysanthemums is applying adequate amounts of water. When rainfall is plentiful watering may be reduced or even stopped. However, plants should be watered when the soil starts to dry. enough water has to be applied to soak the soil to a depth of four to six inches. This is best done by using sprinklers rather than hand watering. It is best to apply water during the day so the foliage will dry off before nightfall otherwise, leaf and flower diseases can become a problem.

Nutrition

plants should be fed lightly every week with a good balanced all-purpose fertilizer (Ex: N:P:K 20:20:20) in liquid from sprayed to fully drench plants to a dosage of ¼ – ½  teaspoon fertilizer mixed in 01 gallons of water. Soluble fertilizers such as 15-30-15 are also used when plants are newly replanted or repotted the rate of application on the package or container should be followed. Solid fertilizers with a ratio of N:P:K at 5-10-10, 5-20-20 may also be applied once a month to adult plants for enhanced flowering. Coated slow-release fertilizers with the above N:P:K ratios may also be used.

Propagation of plants

Chrysanthemums can be started as seeds, cuttings, divisions, or purchased at a nursery as bedding plants. Obtaining cuttings or divisions of plants are the best methods for propagation of locally cultivated Chrysanthemums

Divisions

Young divisions will grow much faster and provide a better plant than crowded old clumps. When the new shoots are 1-3 inches tall, old clumps can be dug up and carefully pulled apart. Healthy divisions can be planted into newly prepared fertile soil and the half-dead woody parts discarded.

Cuttings

Semi mature shoots that have not yet flowered and slow healthy growth are selected and 4-6 inch cuttings obtained. The lower half of leaves are stripped from the 4-6 inch healthy cutting and a clean slant cut is made at the base of the cutting. About ¾ inch of the cut end is then dipped into a rooting hormone such as any commercially available rooting hormone. Subsequently, the cutting is inserted about one inch deep into sterile moist sand only or sand: coir dust  1:1 or sand: compost/leaf mould  1:1. All media used for propagation of cuttings needs to be steam-sterilized prior to use.

A mini-propagator is created over the container or bed, in which cuttings have been planted, with poly film over a wireframe. The propagator has to be placed in a bright shady spot (Not full sun) until the roots form. Once rooted, plants may be removed from the propagator and left in a shady place for a day or two and subsequently treated as normal rooted cutting for beds or pots.

Growing Chrysanthemums as a Cut Flower

When growing Chrysanthemums as a cut flower they need to be cultivated under protected environment conditions such as polytunnel for better care and maintenance of flower quality. The side chosen for planting and construction of the tunnels should be well-drained and receive plenty of sunlight. Cultivation practices need to be more intensive and more attention needs to be given to the growing medium as well as methods of fertilizer application, dosages, pest and disease management etc.

Since Chrysanthemums are sensitive to light during vegetative growth phase 13-14 hours light needs to be provided to plants until plants grow to the needed height. Pinching is not practised and single stems that bear flowers at the top are allowed to grow to the required height. Nylon wire mesh is used to support plants placed as layers at 10-12 cm distances. Disbudding is however practised some times to produce large flowers. Subsequently day length can be reduced to induce flowering of plants. Artificial daylight bulbs (CFL) may be used for about 2-3 hours after sunset or early in the morning/at dawn prior to availability of sunlight or may be provided during the night. Disrupting the dark period with a few hours of light, to increase day length.

Pests and Diseases

Fortunately for garden Chrysanthemum growers, most insect and disease problems are controllable the common insect pests are aphids and two-spotted mites can usually be controlled by spraying or dusting with (Imidacloprid 70% WG, 200 g/l SL or Thiamethoxam 25%  WG for aphids and Abamectin 18 g/l EC, Azadirachtin 10 g/l EC, Sulpher 80% WP/WG, Neem seed water extract or Hexythiazox 10% WP for mites) mites are also prevalent during dry hot months, thus increasing humidity during this period can be helpful in preventing mite infestations.

Leaf minor, a small fly belonging to the Agromyzedae family, is also considered a pest in Chrysanthemums and was first introduced into Europe from America, probably through Chrysanthemums plantlets towards the mid-70s. principal damage is caused by the larvae that dig tunnels in the leaf mesophyll, also considerably reducing the plant’s photosynthesis and thus growth and production. In cases of strong infestations, the leaf miner is also able to lay eggs inside ligulate flowers.

They still cause much damage to Chrysanthemum cultivations in this country as well. Placing yellow plastic films spread  with Greece or any sticky substance around or within the cultivations as well as the application of chemical sprays of Cyromazine  75% WP, Neem seed water extract, Abemactin 18 g/l EC or  Azadirachtin 50 g/l SL is helpful in controlling pest infestations

Powdery mildew and white rust are the most common disease recorded in the country. Application of sulphur 80% WP or Chlorothalonil 75 WP according to labelled instruction would help control mildew to a certain extent. Powdery mildew flourishes under warm damp conditions, especially after rains maintaining uniform humidity levels as well as improving ventilation to reduce moisture also contribute to its control.

White rust when initially spotted on a few leaves may be controlled by removal and safe disposal of affected leaves. However when rust is persistent, and control is more tedious spraying agrochemicals containing Bitertanol 300 g/l EC, Mancozeb 80% WP/75% WG, Tebuconazole 250 g/l EC or Pyraclostrobin 250 g/l EC, according to labelled instructions following all safety precautions, is required for disease control.

One disease that cannot be controlled with chemicals is verticillium wilt. Planting in verticillium contaminated areas should be avoided for several years

Chrysanthemum classes

How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums
How to Grow and Care for Chrysanthemums
  • Reflex

The florists in this class curve downward and overlap, similar to bird plumage. The tops of these blooms are full, but somewhat flattened. Flower size 4-6 inches, plant medium height

  • Regular Incurve

A true globular bloom equal in breadth and depth. The florets smoothly curve and form a ball. Flower size 4-6 inches, plant moderately short

  • Intermediate

This bloom class is smaller than the irregular incurve, with shorter florets, only partially incurving with full centres, but giving more open appearance. Many of the popular commercial incurving types are in this intermediate class. Flower size: 6 inches or greater, plant medium height

  • Pompon

A small globular bloom, somewhat flat when young but fully round mature. Size ranges from small button types to large disbudded blooms almost 4 inches in diameter. The florets incurve reflex in a regular manner and fully conceal at the centre. Flower size 1-4 inches: grown  as a spray, plant height tall

  • Single and Semi-Double

A daisy-like flower with a centre disk and one or more rows of ray florets. Flower size: greater than 4 inches, plant medium height

  • Anemone

These blooms are similar to the semi-doubles, but have a raised cushion-like centre. Flower size: greater than 4 inches, plant medium height

  • Spoon

Essentially the same as the semi-double, except the ray florets are like spoons at the tips. The centre disk is round and visible. Flower size 4 inches or greater, plant height tall

  • Quill

The florets in this class are straight and tubular with open tips. The bloom is fully double with no open centre. Flower size: 6 inches or greater, plant height medium

  • Spider

Spiders have long tubular ray florets which may coil or hook at the ends. The florets may be very fine to coarse. Flower size: six inches or greater, plant medium height

  • Brush or Thistle

Fine tubular florets which grow parallel to the stem and resemble an artist’s paintbrushes or in the thistle from the florets are flattened, twisted and dropping. Flower size: less than 2 inches: grown a spray. Plant medium height.

check out my other article: How to Grow and care for Carnation

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