The Raising of Cuttings

This now is a question of what suits the situation best, and the needs are simple:
  1. an appropriate container size: relative to how many cuttings are being produced,
  2. a sterile medium: a soil-less mixture of peat, sand and perlite (or vermiculite) will  best serve your needs, and
  3. a controlled environment: with some bottom heat and good light and air circulation.
The containers that you can buy today are of all sizes and shapes.  Many come with a plastic dome and solid base tray, very suitable for first time cuttings.  Start small with the trays of 22 inch x 5 inch that holds 4 to 9 cells, and soon you will realize you should go with something of more quantity, some may just fill a 22x10 tray with a prepared mixture.  The type of medium used is best if it is sterile for the cuttings.  My own is a mix of peat, sand and perlite put through a sieve to remove large particles.  Pre-moistened so as to accept water.  And this is well watered the day before I insert cuttings.

The environment, this is to give the cuttings an advantage as to succeed by means of a little heat under them and an enclosed area so as not to dry out in an open environment, the success of the cutting depends on the amount of green leaf showing, too little and there is no need to grow a root, too much and it will transspire to death too soon, before root growth.  You must have a spray bottle of water, and a spray bottle of No-Damp solution, this is to control Black-leg rot of new cuttings and transplants, often a soil born virus.

Cuttings of Chrysanths will vary in size and quality depending on the cultivars, on how the stools were housed over the winter and how they are brought forward into producing new basal growth, too much heat and thin spindly growth results, too cool and some short stubby green bits become sun-suitable, too rich a feeding and watering and yields distorted growths, so get all you can and learn to discard as you raise them.  Cuttings can be as small or large as you wish, most raisers will take them at 2 inches high and the lower quarter is stripped of leaf and cut clean just below a leaf joint, dip 1/8th in rooting hormone and shake then insert into the medium, firm in well and label.

Normal time of making a root is 14 days and you will see how a cutting droops down in the first 5 days then begins to lift up and show a newer greener colour, and away they grow, lifting of the cover by day as not to have them sweating.  Leave about 21 days and then you are ready to transplant into 2 or 3 inch pots or larger, and yet this is still to be a fertilizer free mix, and one good watering to settle in is all that is needed, growth will be seen in a few days, do not give water until it really droops and asks for it.  Make the cutting search and grow roots to survive and some 10 days later it will be needing to go into a 4x4 pot if it is to be yours to keep and grow.  If you have more plants than your need then you can enter them in the Spring Plant Sale in 2 or 3 inch pots.

This size of potting on may now contain some base fertilizers, and using a mix that now contains some food and fiber, mine is a shop bought bag of the Pro-Mix cutting and transplant mix, 80 litre size, from Canadian Tire and to this I add sand or peat as desired, remember to test it by the handful, squeeze it and see, does it crumble away or not.  And by this time in April you must have decided which are to be grown on in pots and what goes into the ground.

Grown in the ground is for the earlys, and let us go back to those glorious sunny days in February, and start the digging of the plot, green weeds on the compost and white roots in the garbage.  Left in a rough state it is now time to Lime the patch and let the rains wash it away, Eh!  I do spread lime, the grey type, quick release one about 1 month before planting, that is time for 2 good rains to wash it in and then a general type fertilizer the day before planting.  A N.P.K. of 7-7-7 is good for 7 weeks and then it is used up, or the 6-8-6- may last for 6 to 8 weeks, something to think about when we talk about liquid feeding your plants.

Well, now it is April and time to pot up those Lates into 7 inch or 1 gallon or larger size, for as with most Chrysanths in our climate, the most growth is gained in April into May and then September into Fall.  Summer is just to hot to grow an evenly suitable plant.

In potting up to the final size, and this is often in June, it is good to put some slow release feed into the pots, some plants may need a 14-14-14 feed as others need a 16-10-10.  Remember to count how many weeks back from the date of the showing, do you want to feed your plants into November.

Now to those who grow Cushion Mums, it is to try and grow as much root as possible as early in the year as you can, being in there final pots with some slow release under them by mid July and then let them stand in the open ground to have all the sun and wind possible to harden the growth as it comes.  Last pinch can be as late as July 20th, and when the PNE rains come in August you will see growth.

Then there are the Cascades, to be sure.  You grow them up to hang them down.  Yes, feed them, to grow them into their final boxes, from 6 inch pot and slow release 16-10-10 under them by mid July, and then train them into a frame or network as to have them tied to shape and final cut and pinch by 5th September.  For a more precise date, ask Bernie?

David Ledward