This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
Cuttings should not be allowed to remain in the cutting-bench after the roots are 1/2 inch in length, or they will become hardened, which will check the growth. As soon as rooted, they should be potted into 2- or 2 1/2-inch pots, using good mellow soil, with a slight admixture of decomposed manure. Most of the large flowers are produced under glass, and the bench system is generally employed, which consists of 4 or 5 inches of soil placed upon benches. In these benches the small plants are planted 8 to 12 inches apart each way, from the latter part of May to the middle of July. Those planted at the first date usually give the best results. The soil should be pounded rather firm either before planting or after the plants have become established.
There are many ideas as to what soil is best suited for the chrysanthemum, but good blooms may be grown on clay or light sandy loam, provided the cultivator is a close observer and considers the condition of the soil in which they are growing. Clay soil, being more retentive of moisture, will require less water and feeding than soil of a more porous nature. The chrysanthemum is a gross feeder, and, therefore, the fertility of the soil is very important in the production of fine blooms. Each expert has a way of his own in preparing the soil, but as equally good results have been secured under varied conditions, it is safe to conclude that the method of preparing the soil has little to do with the results, provided there is sufficient food within their reach. All concede that fresh-cut sod, piled late the preceding fall or in early spring, with one-fourth to one-fifth its bulk of half-decomposed manure, forms an excellent compost. Many use 1 or 2 inches of manure as a mulch after the plants have become established. Others place an inch of half-decomposed manure in the bottom of the bench. This the roots find as soon as they require it.
Good blooms have been grown by planting on decomposed sod and relying on liquid applications of chemicals.
No definite rule can be given for this work, as so much depends on the amount of food incorporated in the soil. If the soil be very rich, the liquid applications should be only occasional and very dilute. There is more danger of overfeeding by the use of liquids than by using excessively rich soil. Each grower must depend on his own judgment as to the requirements, being guided by the appearance of the plants. When the leaves become dark-colored and very brittle, it is safe to consider that the limit in feeding has been reached. Some varieties refuse to bud when overfed, making a mass of leaves instead. Others show very contorted petals, giving a rough unfinished bloom. Still others, particularly the red varieties, are likely to be ruined by decomposition of the petals, called "burning," especially if the atmosphere is allowed to become hot and stuffy. The same result will follow in dark weather, or when the nights become cool, if the moisture of the house is allowed to fall upon the blooms.
Under such conditions, the ventilation should remain on during the night, or heat be turned in according to the outside temperature.
Let the foliage be the index to watering. If it appears yellow and sickly, use less water, and see that the drainage is perfect. There is little danger of over-watering as long as the foliage is bright green. A little shading at planting time is not objectionable, but it should be removed as soon as the plants are established. It is often necessary to shade the pink and red flowers, if the weather continues bright for some time, to prevent their fading.
When the plants are 8 inches high, they should be tied either to stakes or to jute twine. In the former system, use one horizontal wire over each row, tying the stake to this after the bottom has been inserted into the ground. Two wires will be necessary when twine is used, one above the plants and the other a few inches above the soil to which the twine is fastened. From the first of August until the flowers are in color, all lateral growths should be removed as soon as they appear, allowing only the shoots intended for flowers to remain. The above remarks refer to the training of benched chrysanthemums as grown by florists for cut-flowers. Other kinds of training are described under Section II, pages 763-4.
No special date can be given for this work, as much depends on the season and the earliness or lateness of the variety to be treated. Buds usually begin to form on the early sorts about August 15, or soon after, and some of the late varieties are not in condition before October 10. Golden Glow and Smith Advance among the large-flowering, and several of the early-flowering of the hardy varieties, are exceptions to the foregoing, as they will set buds in June and July that will develop very good blooms during the month of August and later. The advent of these kinds has advanced the flowering season four to six weeks. The object of removing the weak and small buds and retaining the best is to concentrate the whole energy of the plant and thereby increase the size of the flower.
Fig. 950. Single type.
Fig. 951. One kind of chrysanthemum cutting.
Fig. 952. The crown bud.
Fig. 953. Crown bud after it has been selected or taken.
There are two forms of buds, crowns and terminals. A crown bud (Fig. 952) is formed first, never coming with other flower-buds, and is provided with lateral growths which, if allowed to remain, will continue their growth and produce terminal buds later. Terminal buds come later, always in clusters (Fig. 954), are never associated with lateral growths, and terminate the plant's growth for that season. If the crown bud is to be saved, remove the lateral growths as shown by Figs. 952, 953, and the operation is complete. If the terminal bud is desired, remove the crown and allow one, two or three (according to the vigor of the plant) of the growths to remain. In a few weeks these will show a cluster of buds, and, when well advanced, it will be noticed that the largest is at the apex of the growth (the one saved, if perfect, as it usually is), and one at each of the leaf axils (see Fig. 955). The rejected buds are easiest and safest removed with the thumb and forefinger. Fig. 956. Should the bud appear to be one-sided or otherwise imperfect, remove it and retain the next best. In removing the buds, begin at the top and work down.
By so doing there are buds in reserve, in case the best one should accidentally be broken, while if the reverse course were taken, and the best bud broken at the completion of the work, all the labor would be lost. A few hours' disbudding will teach the operator how far the buds should be advanced to disbud easily. Early and late in the day, when the growths are brittle, are the best times for the work. Some growers speak of first, second and third buds. The first is a crown, and usually appears on early-propagated plants from July 15 to August 15. If removed, the lateral growths push forward, forming another bud. In many cases in which the crowns are removed early, the next bud is not a terminal, but a second crown, which is termed the second bud. Remove this, and the third bud will be the terminal. Plants propagated in May and June usually give the second and third bud, not forming the typical crown. Those struck in July and planted late give the terminal only. Most of the best blooms are from second crown and terminal. Pink, bronze and red flowers from first crowns are much lighter in color than those from later buds. They are large, but very often abnormal to such an extent as to be decidedly inferior.
This is doubtless due to the large amount of food utilized in their construction, owing to the long time consumed in development. The hot weather of September and October must have a detrimental effect upon the color.
Fig. 954. The terminal bud.
Fig. 955. Terminal buds of chrysanthemum at an early stage. None too early for disbudding.
Fig. 956. Terminal bud after the disbudding operation.