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               Taking cuttings          Growing Fukusuke         Month-by-month growing guide      




Tips on growing chrysanthemums

Protection of blooms

Some sort of cover is generally an advantage to protect the blooms from the elements. Some of the larger flowers can hold a lot of water which can weigh them down and destroy what might otherwise be a prize winning bloom. So a cover which gives protection particularly from rain is important for growing really large blooms. There are a variety of structures that serve the purpose - different growers achieve good results with different setups. Generally any sort of structure with a waterproof covering which can be either plastic, transparent tarp or polycarbonate sheeting. Open-sided is fine and can also have some advantages, the main thing is the overhead protection from water. Below is a picture of one type of structure that would be suitable but is just one variety of many that could be used. 

This one is made from treated pine logs with polycarbonate roofing - currently being used for orchids but could also be used for chrysanthemums, the only difference would probably be that the shade cloth wouldn't be needed for chrysanthemums.

Staking of plants

As chrysanthemums grow they can become quite tall, often reaching 2 metres in height, requiring the need for some sort of support. There are ways to control the height to a certain extent, which involves cutting them back at the right time in the growing cycle to help restrict their final height. However, they still will require some sort of staking or tying up to keep the stems straight. Stakes can be used inserted directly into the pots. Alternatively, a system of training wires can be set up by positioning star pickets at the end of each row with wires placed at intervals, then as the plant grows the leads are fastened to the next wire.

Growing chrysanthemums is a little like growing tomatoes in that a lot of the side shoots are removed, which allows the plant to channel its energy into just a few stems selected for producing prize blooms. Depending on the size of the pot used and the type of chrysanthemum, the amount of stems can range from just one or two stems per pot in the case of the very largest exhibition type blooms, to 3 or 4 stems for some of the smaller type flowers such as anemones or daisy types, otherwise known as singles.


A practise called disbudding is used to create the largest possible blooms. Some of the exhibition blooms can reach 20cm (8") or so in diameter and if they aren't covered, can take on a lot of water. Disbudding is achieved by selecting just one flower bud and carefully removing the others, so that a plant puts its energy into just one bloom rather than a cluster of blooms. So you can have one large bloom or many smaller blooms. Disbudding is one technique that helps create the largest possible bloom. Other practises are removal of lateral shoots as they appear and removal of any branches or stems except those that are to bear a bloom.

Growing space

How much space is needed to grow chrysanthemum depends on how many plants a person wishes to grow. For a beginner perhaps 12 plants is enough, then as a person gains experience they may wish to increase this number. A few square metres of space will be enough to grow some chrysanthemums and get them to exhibition standard. 

One of the traps beginners can get into, is growing too many plants and then finding that they lose control when the plants begin to grow and put on some bulk. What started out as a few little cuttings can become quite a lot of greenery a few months down the track. Minimum space to allow for each plant is about 1/3 sq.m. If your plants are set up in rows, there also needs to be room to move around between each plant. A good setup is two rows of plants back-to-back with an aisle on each side.



Taking cuttings

The following information comes from Bill Jenkins regarding his latest innovations in the taking of cuttings. In 2012 he made some notable gains in strike rate with just a couple of small changes. He uses a small plastic house and a 4-tray heat bed set at about 18 degC in the plastic house. Bill strikes many chrysanthemum cuttings, more than can fit on his heat tray, but finds the warmth generated by the heat tray helps the surrounding cuttings that don't fit on the heat tray. He usually has a few losses but this year has had very few. This is his latest technique.

  1. Firstly, water plants the day before and prepare a cutting mix 1 part peat to 2 parts propagating sand. 
    (Bill creates new plants each year. Tip cuttings are generally taken from shoots that appear around the base of last year's stock once the shoots have reached a certain height.) 

  2. Cuttings are taken fairly short (about 3" or 8cm) and immersed for 20 to 35 seconds in Roseshield*, then allowed to dry off. 

  3. When dry they are then trimmed below a node and dipped into rooting powder.

  4. Using a dibbler, an indentation is made in the potting mix and the cuttings are inserted into the mix, then firmed down around the cuttings.

  5. A drop of Roseshield is added around the base of the cutting.

While waiting for cuttings to strike moisture levels are critical. On a heat bed the propagating mix can be fairly damp as it will dry out more readily, and need to be mist-sprayed a couple of times a day. Alternatively, some growers use a polystyrene box with clear plastic lid and a layer of barely moist peat in the bottom - in which case the mix should be kept barely damp. Excess dampness is likely to cause losses. Some varieties are hard to strike and may require the use of root cuttings ie rather than tip cuttings.

Once cuttings have struck they should not be left too long before potting on to a fertilised potting mix. 

* * *

The old stools (parent plants) are kept until you are sure that this year's cuttings have taken and are growing well. If you lose your cuttings the old plants can be used to take some new cuttings. Once you are sure that everything is fine and your cuttings are growing, the practise is to dispose of the old plants.

*Roseshield is a brand name fungicide available from garden centres and hardware stores.





Growing Fukusuke my way, by Robert Wilson

Article taken from CSV newsletter November 2013.

Fukusuke (pronounced Foo Soo ska) is a drawf plant with full-size flower. 

Varieties proven to be most successful are Dusky Queen, Mt Diablo, Luxor, Kenroki, Hougiku, Kokka No Sachi, Kokka Habahougiku, Kokka Shiahi, Kokka Shukuen, Xena, Senkyo No Aoi, Kiyomi No Yurai and Kokka Dakoushin.

Stools are retained from previous season's stock grown in 10 inch pots. Suckers are pinched regularly during August, September and October to obtain suitable cutting material for 25th November. The final pinching of cuttings is carried out the 3rd week of October. Growth around the stool should be restricted to a height of 4 inches / 10cm, if allowed to exceed this height, premature buds may appear.

Stools are liquid fed weekly with Miracle Grow and Thrive alternative weeks to obtain strong, healthy cutting material. Regular spraying with Macozeb and Confidor to obtain clean stock.

Stools are sprayed with Alar 2 days prior to taking cuttings. Dilution rate is 1 level plastic tspn to 1 litre of water with the addition of a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Withhold any water from the foliage following spraying for 24 hours.

Cuttings are dipped in hormone rooting powder and inserted into seedling trays, 40 per tray. Trays are half filled with potting mix and a mixture of 3 parts course sand and 1 part peat moss. The tray is placed inside a polystyrene box which is quarter filled with compost to create additional humidity. Cuttings are watered thoroughly.

The tray is placed inside the box which is covered with clear polythene. Polythene is stretched over 2 wire hoops on the box to allow condensation to run off and covered with 80% shade cloth. No further watering is carried out for two weeks and the box is kept airtight. This method allows protection from sun and heat which can be experienced during November. All cuttings for Fukusuke are inserted on 25th November.

Following 2 weeks the polythene is removed and cuttings watered if required. Within 3 weeks cuttings are ready to be transferred to 2 inch plastic tubes. Prior to potting a further spraying of Alar is carried out.

A good quality potting mix is required with the addition of John Innes base 4 oz to the bushel, 1 tspn trace elements. Feeding commences 1 weeks after potting with Miracle Grow and Thrive alternate weeks at full strength.

The next potting on is into 3 inch polystyrene cups. These fit into the 6 inch squat pots more readily without disturbing or damaging the root system. Potting mix as for 2 inch tubes. Spray with alar as new growth commences which maybe be every 2 or 3 weeks. Continue to feed weekly.

Final potting is into 6 inch squat pots. Potting mix as previous with the addition of 2 level spoons of Osmocote 6-9 month indoor plant mix. Pots are filled with potting mix and no further top dressing is carried out. Osmocote is sprinkled on the top of the pot. Regular spraying is carried out with Confidor, Lorsban and Trifoline for mildew. Plants are grown inside a shade house to provide protection from the sun and wind.

The most important point is to keep the plants growing with vigour with no checks and regular weekly liquid feeding at full strength. As the plants produce new growth, spray with Alar.

Do not allow any water or moisture on the foliage for 24 hours to allow the plant to absorb the chemical.

Bud selection is around mid March. Remove all side shoots and suckers. Continue feeding until showing colour. Stake if necessary with a small cane. 

Give this method a try. Good luck!



Further reading

Fukusuke - dwarf pot plants (has good diagrams), 
by George Harrington