An Essay read before the Mass. Hort. Society, Jan. 15,1887.

The cultivation of the chrysanthemum should begin as soon as the plant is through flowering, for it is in a great measure upon the health of the cutting taken from the old plant that future success depends. Many growers, as soon as the plant has flowered, cut it down to the pot; but this is a' very risky thing to do, as many varieties have a weak constitution and will sometimes refuse to start into growth if the old tops are cut off too soon. The best way is to cut the branches back quite severely at first, but not to cut the plant down to the pot until the shoots have begun to start quite freely from the roots.

The plants should receive as good cultivation after they have bloomed as before, for it is useless to expect a good, healthy plant from an unhealthy cutting. From carelessness in this respect, or from want of room, plants are often packed under the benches or in some equally unwholesome place, and the consequence is that the shoots which start from the roots, from which the cuttings are usually made, will be very soft and weak, and totally unfit for cuttings. To this cause alone the essayist attributed full half the failures so common in chrysanthemum growing.

The chrysanthemum is essentially a sun-loving plant, and any encroachment on its rights is fully paid for in sickly plants and flowers devoid of that exquisite coloring that should make them so charming. The plants, as soon as they are through flowering, should be put in the sunniest place possible and have plenty of fresh air, judicious watering and a temperature of about 50 or 55°. The matter of watering is a very important one at this time, as well as through the summer months. The plants are more apt to be over than under watered at this season, but still they should never be allowed to come to a wilting condition, especially after they have begun to make fresh growth.

As soon as the young shoots are three or four inches long they are taken off for cuttings and placed in the cutting bench in good, clean, rather fine sand, in a temperature of from 450 to 50°, with a gentle bottom heat of about ten degrees higher. Too high a temperature is a very prolific cause of failure in striking cuttings.

In making the cuttings, choose such shoots as have a fresh, growing appearance, and reject all those that are at all rusty or unhealthy. Cut off all but about three leaves at the top, for if more are left they are very apt to wilt, and then it is difficult, if not impossible, to revive them. The lower end is cut with,a sharp knife, without regard to the position of the leaves, as the roots start about as freely between the joints as they do below them. Ample room should be allowed the cuttings while in the sand, for if they are too much crowded they are apt to gather an excess of moisture, which will cause them to damp off, especially if they have previously suffered from dryness.

If everything goes well the cuttings will be rooted in about two weeks, and when the roots are from half an inch to an inch in length they are carefully removed from the sand and immediately potted in 2 3/4-in. pots. It is quite important that the cuttings should be taken from the sand as soon as they are well rooted, for as soon as the roots are formed the cuttings begin to grow, and there being very little nourishment in the sand, they soon become weak and stunted if left there.

The soil for potting should be composed of about three parts of good sandy loam, and one of well-decayed stable manure. A heavy clay should be avoided. As soon as potted, the plants are placed in a quite cool, light, and airy structure, and shaded for a few days from the bright sunshine by a covering of papers. They should be sparingly watered at first, but as they get used to their new condition and begin to grow freely the quantity may be increased as required, and from this time to the end they should never be allowed to suffer from want of water.

For the greater part of the plants that are to flower in autumn, the cuttings are put in from the first to the third week in March, and potted as soon as rooted; the healthiest are selected to be potted up preparatory to being planted out in the ground.

After the pots are well filled with roots, but before the plants are actually pot-bound, they are shifted from the 2 3/4-inch size to 4 inch, and from that to 5-inch, as becomes necessary, for the plants should never be allowed to become pot-bound. An April cutting that has never been checked is much better than one started in February or March and allowed to become pot-bound, for one great secret of success in chrysanthemum culture is to be found in keeping the plants in a healthy growing condition from the time the cuttings are made until they come into flower.

Pinching may begin as soon as the plant is about six inches high. Pinch out the smallest amount possible from the growing end, never cutting back to hard wood except in cases of unshapely growth. Pinching is best done a few days or a week before the plant is shifted to a larger pot, for by this time the new shoots have begun to start, and will be in condition to use the nourishment supplied by the fresh soil.

Even when the grower has the advantage of a house capable of being ventilated to an unusual degree, it is best to place the plants in a cold frame as early as can be done with safety from frost. Here they can be hardened off, and will be in better condition to start into growth immediately after planting out, which is usually best done about the middle of May.

For planting out such a location should be chosen as will at all times have a full exposure to the sun and air. It is desirable that it should be so situated as to be protected from strong winds, but this must not interfere with the prime necessities of sun and air. The plants can be so staked and tied that they will withstand all ordinary winds, but nothing will supply the deficiency of direct sunlight and fresh air.