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Month by month guide

Dates, times and fertilising guide for Victoria (Aust).


( JULY ) By now stools should have been removed from their pots or growing beds (Stools are the roots from the previous seasons growth ) washed and the roots trimmed placed in new compost, and placed on a heating cable if available, it is wise to keep them growing steadily by giving a weak liquid feed and keeping them moist. this will encourage turgid growth from which the cuttings can be taken, fresh and green cuttings will root readily. The reason for taking cuttings is to produce a strong vigorous plant exactly the same as the mother plant they should be encouraged to make roots as quickly as possible and to keep it moving once you�ve achieved the root. Within two weeks the new shoots ( Cutting material ) should appear. This new growth will root easier and quicker than the old growth. The sooner cuttings of large and medium exhibition are taken the better. This is followed by singles, incurves, intermediates and reflex needing two stops. All cuttings should be of the same vigour and about an 2 inches in length. The cuttings should be inserted into trays or cells (cells cause less root disturbance when potting) filled with a good rooting medium. Once inserted into this medium cover it with perlite to reflect light, give a light spray and place on the cable. The speed of rooting is relative to temperature the ideal being around 24C Rooting at this temperature taking about two weeks . It can be beneficial to spray the cuttings in sunny weather if they start to flag. Only water if the compost is dry. If no cable is available place the cuttings in to a polystyrene box and cover with plastic. Do not water too much as this can lead to damping off ,there should be enough moisture in the potting mix to carry the cuttings over the rooting period. Just before rooting occurs the cutting turns a greyish colour. Once over this period the change is a greener look with the middle growing away. Once the cuttings are rooted , first raise them off the cable for a day then move to the bench to harden off. Once off the cable its a good idea to spray with a half strength insecticide (just to be on the safe side). Again if no heating cable is used, remove the plastic cover and allow the cuttings to stand for a couple of days to harden off. Now is a good time to be preparing your compost for your first potting. The choice between peat based or loam is personal and for you to decide. If you decide to use soiless you can buy a proprietary brand (Debco/Yates) from your local supermarket or nursery ready to use or make your own using sand and peat mixed with a based fertiliser. 85 grams (3 oz ) hoof and horn or blood and bone, (3 oz) 85 gram super phosphate, 1-1/2 oz 43 gram sulphate of potash 1-1/2 oz (43 gram) garden lime. This is the base mix and can be used for potting plants into 8 cm or 10 cm pots. (See notes for peat base for Fertiliser)

( AUGUST ) Still keep your eye on the rooting program, put cutting material on the cable for a later rooting date or if you had some earlier failures. Always remember it�s better to have a late rooting date or if you had some earlier failures. Always remember its better to have a late rooted cutting than no cutting at all. With any luck it will catch up. Continue to pot up plants and when they have a good root system. Keep the plants well ventilated but out of draughts and in full light If the plants become dry and start to droop wait until next morning and then give a good watering. Towards the end of the month place stools of reflex on the cable if you are growing them on one stop and need a late cutting. These will produce cutting material very quickly and root in about ten days. Now is the time to be vigilant for pests and disease. Leaves may here and there exhibit small pin pricks, silvery scars on the upper surface and tiny flies like small house flies flitting between the plants. these are leaf miners and their presence is a portent of infestation, unless they are controlled now. Spray on a regular basis on a dull day with both insecticide and fungicide. Now is a good time to decide what sort of plant you want at all stages of its life. The plant should be short and stocky, this will only be possible with good root action, full light and temperature as low as possible. BELOW IS AN EXAMPLE FOR A POTTING MEDIUM 7 PARTS LOAM 3 PARTS PEAT 2 PARTS GRIT. Added is the John Innes fertiliser mix.

( SEPTEMBER ) This is the month that hopefully the cuttings you ordered will arrive ( If you are a first year grower )Most plants should arrive in good condition any delay in delivery can result in stressed plants these should be stood in water for about an hour before potting, then keep them in the shade for a few days. Check stools on the cable for slugs , if any signs are visible scatter slug pellets around them. Now is a good time to insert cutting from these stools which will only receive one stop. Before putting the slug pellets away scatter some in the cold frame to kill off slugs lurking there waiting for the plants. Check your five inch pots in readiness for potting on. Prepare a new mix of compost, once again it�s a personal choice between peat or loam based. Check your plants on a regular basis, If the pot is becoming full of roots move it on to a bigger pot .Insert a splitcane and tie the plant loosely to it. Place the pots in a standing area where they can be under cover to keep off the rain. Check the later rooted cuttings and pot as soon as possible. Roots size should be similar to a shaving brush with plenty of white feeder roots formed. Now is also a good time to look back and assess the successes and failures of the propagation season. Make notes now on any changes you need to make next year whilst still fresh in your mind 5 Inch pot, potting mix. A mix for loam based compost is as follows. 7 Parts loam 3 Parts peat. 2 Parts Seymour grit. Add to each Bushel ( approx. 4 x 9 litre buckets ) Hoof & horn, Super Phosphate Sulphate of Potash and Garden Lime. 2 Times the amount used in the five inch potting mix fertiliser.

( OCTOBER )  Keep your eye on the stopping list. Most plants being grown on second crown will need a first stop this month. Some large exhibition grown on first crown will need stopping as well. Continue to pot up plants into five inch pots as they need it. Keep your eyes open for slugs and aphids, spray at the first sign of infestation. Water only when the plant really needs water, wait until it flags in the morning ( this builds up a good root system ) Plants will now need to be spaced out as they increase in size. Make it a regular practice to check each plant. this will enable you to discard any plants that are not up to scratch, as well as giving you extra space for your healthy plants. Give as much ventilation as possible. Continue to wash and store pots as they pass out of use. Plants that were bought in tend to bud up at this time of year. This is due to the parent plant being subjected to high temperatures. If this occurs it is better select lower laterals in case this has effected the top laterals As we near the end of the month it is a good idea to check out your final pots ( 8 & 10 in) in readiness of final potting next month.

( NOVEMBER ) Plants should now be doing well in pots and be showing signs of filling their pots with roots , this is always a good sign that final potting is not far off. Keeping a vigil for slugs and aphids is the main task along with making sure they�re watered. only water when they need it. The standing ground also should be made ready to receive the plants when they are planted out. Keep your eye on stopping dates, most incurves and decorative grown on first crown will need a stop this month.( A round Melbourne Cup weekend ) By mid November we can start to mix some final potting compost. This again depending on the plants involved, areas and personal methods. Some plants like a peaty growing medium and in a lot of instances they tend to flower earlier in this method, but it tends to dry out faster and thus needs more watering loam based can be re- watered a lot easier and breathes better. But again this is the individual's choice and preference. Never be too ready to pot up your plants. Only when they have filled the 5" pots with roots move them on, otherwise they will sit in the pots for ages and ages until making roots again. When a plant is ready to move on it fairly races into the new compost where as if it isn't in the right stage it takes a lot longer. The general mix for final pots is :- Loam Base 7 parts loam 3 parts peat 2 parts grit To this add J. Inness No 4 Fertilizer per Bushel Peat Base 3 buckets Peat 1 bucket of Grit approx. 1 Bushell To this add 7 grams potassium nitrate 7 grams sulphate of potash 70 grams superphosphate 7 grams garden lime 225 grams dolomite per bushel This does not contain too much nitrogen as this can lead to rotting of the stem of the cutting before it makes roots but once the plant is up and growing this can be increased by liquid feeding.. Keep pots on the dry side as the roots will move faster into the compost, this is the reason they are placed POT THICK to enable the leaves to protect the root ball from getting soaked during rainy weather. Leave pot thick for 10 to 14 days. Water only if they dry and wilt. Try to get your pots on the standing ground by the end of the month.

( DECEMBER ) Any plants not on the standing ground by now need to be placed there as soon as possible Secure each plant with a cane tied to a straining wire placed between each row leaving about six inches between each pot. Ideally plants should be in double rows with a space of 2 feet between each double row. This space will allow you space to walk up and down when you have to water and feed. The same applies to plants grown in beds . The beds should limed and fertilized during winter with pivot 5.2.1 and firmed lightly when planting the plants from 5 inch pots Plants being flowered on two (2) stops will need stopping again this month along with late struck cuttings being flowered on first crown. Take care with watering only give water to the roots if the plant really needs it, very often an overhead spray will perk the plants up, Feeding will normally start after the plants have been to their final pots for about six (6) weeks . Some growers use liquid feeds whilst others use powders. Neither is right or wrong. What is important is that the food is available to the plant as easily as possible . More plants are spoilt by over feeding at this time so go easy. As basal growth that appears needs to be removed at ground level. Keep lateral growth to a manageable level. You don�t want a forest of growth to cut down when the buds need securing, leave what you need plus one or two (1 or 2) spare in case of accidents. Learn to read your plants for both vigour and condition of growth. keep your eye out for pest attack. Plants will be benefit from a regular sequence of spraying for pests and diseases. Keep your record sheets up to date.

( JANUARY ) This is the month of the earwig, they can cause untold damage so check all cane tops have been filled with putty. A solution of carbryl watered round the pots is said to deter them. A weak solution can also be sprayed onto the foliage to deter aphids, leaf miners and other pests. Lower leaves will start to turn yellow as the stems ripen. This is a natural process and nothing to worry about simply remove them. Sometimes a bud will appear on the plant earlier than required so it is best to run on This means rubbing out the bud and letting new shoot develop just below the bud.. By now you should be feeding on a regular basis either weekly or twice a week at half strength. At the end of the month is also a good idea to give a top dressing to all plants. Keep a close eye on the watering, only water if it is really necessary. Also check for caterpillars if any are found spray all plants with a preparation recommended for caterpillar control . If you found just one it probably means there are many more This a good month to visit other growers. The plants should be growing happily, so try to visit other growers to see how yours compare to theirs. Note the length and strength of laterals, leaf colour and count, texture and size.

( FEBRUARY ) Buds of large and medium exhibition should be appearing so secure this bud as soon as possible. Securing the bud means removing all buds except for the central bud. Once you have secured the bud remove the spare lateral, either cut it down a couple of inches a day or remove it all at once. The �experts � have differing views on this so make your own mind up on one or the other. Now is a good time to give these plants another top dressing as well as their normal feed. As side shoots appear these should be removed along with any basal growth. Remove basal growth at ground level, New growth will appear later and may be used to produce next years new plants. Continue to spray for pests and diseases regularly. Towards the third week buds will be appearing in the incurves as well as the large reflexes and decoratives. Secure these buds and remove any spare laterals. You need even laterals along with even bud if you are to enjoy even blooms. top dress these plants and feed as normal except for the incurves which will only need one (1) more feed after they have been top dressed. Further feeding can lead to damping off at flowering time. Make sure the greenhouse is empty and clean in readiness for the plants to be housed next month. Check heaters and fans are in working order. Put shading on the roof and on the top half of the sides. Make a point of checking an up to date classification of your cultivars. It can be both embarrassing and disappointing to find on show day a cultivar has been reclassified and you didn't know.

( MARCH ) The buds of large and medium exhibition are now swelling at a fair rate. This being the case the time for housing will soon be with us. If you didn�t get round to cleaning and washing the greenhouse last month get on with it now. Shade the roof with shadecloth and check heaters and fans are working correctly. When this is all done fumigate with a sulphur candle or insecticide/fungicide. (this is if you are lucky to have a greenhouse) Towards the middle of the month buds of incurves, reflexes and intermediates will begin to swell. Keep up the round of disbudding and deshooting along with your regular thorough inspections. Continue to spray for aphids adding a fungicide at this time to the solution. Some Japs may be showing colour and should be housed or have bud bags placed over them. Before any plant is taken into the greenhouse any weeds must be removed from its pot. Dead or decaying leaves must also be removed. The plant then needs a good spray both an insecticide and fungicide. To do this it is best to support the buds) with split cane tilt them and spray both top and underside of leaves. Allow the plant to dry before placing it in the greenhouse. As the month nears its end the incurves, reflexes and intermediates will be starting to show colour. These should receive the same treatment as the large and medium exhibition. Once housed the door and vents should be left open for the first week to get the plants used to being inside. Keep a close eye on watering in the greenhouse. Always water as early in the day as possible, this allows any spillage to evaporate before nightfall. Never let the plant dry out now it is inside.

( APRIL ) The blooms of some large and medium Japs may now be far enough forward to begin bloom feeding. Bloom feeding can be started when the blooms are about one third open and should be a high potash soluble feed ( phostogen ) As other blooms reach this stage they should be treated the same. Damping is possibly the greatest hazard facing the chrysanth grower. it is more likely if the air is damp. With this in mind try to keep the air as dry as possible. This can be achieved if the door is kept closed, thus causing the warm air to rise to bloom height while the cool air remains close to the ground. Try to keep a fan going as well thereby keeping the air moving. Inside temperature should be five to ten degrees higher than that outside. Keep checking for aphids and earwigs. Earwigs are best found at night with a torch. Spraying to control theses pests is no longer possible so fumigation is the answer. Remember do not fumigate in bright sunlight, leave the greenhouse closed overnight and do not re-enter until it has been well ventilated. Continue to trim basal growth, anything bigger than half an inch trim to soil level; .Remove dead or decaying leaves. If things have gone well now is one of the best times of the year. Blooms will be well on the way out and its time to enjoy the last ten or eleven months work. Check the schedules of shows you hope to exhibit at. Check your cultivars are classified incorrectly a slip up could cost a trophy.

( MAY ) Its show time. As you are selecting your blooms for the shows mark all plants that produce your best blooms. These are the ones you want to keep for next seasons cuttings. Its no good cutting g your best blooms taking them to a show and later not knowing which plant produced them. Visit as many shows and other growers as possible. This will give you some idea of how others have coped compared to yourself. Note any plants you may want to grow next season and who grew them. As May draws to a close the season comes to a close. Cut down the main stem to about twelve inches. Remove the plant from its pot, trim back the roots and box up in fresh compost. Take down the shading to allow full daylight to encourage new growth . Continue to check for aphids on stools and spray at first sight.


Note: These notes serve as a guide and conditions can change due to seasonal variations.



Grow notes from December 2013 meeting

Bill Jenkins proceeded next with his growing notes.

Stopping involves removing the top of the plant.
All section 1 and 2 plants should have had their second stop by Dec 1, sections 3, 4 and 5 are due for their second stops now [8 Dec] (Yellow Harold Lawson should be done later). Section 4 and Patricia Scheele should have their second stop soon. Other plants should have their second stop by Jan 7. The correct stops ensure that flowers are at their best for the show. A pot of Nightingale (a green spider) was circulated to show the room left for top dressing and to demonstrate the removal of side shoots to leave three leaders.

Green flowers need to be grown in the shade to maintain colour in the flowers. When feeding plants grown in ‘soil-less’ media using ¼ strength Aquasol/Thrive etc. the pots need to be flushed with pure water every fifth watering and watered in the morning so that they will be dry overnight.

Pests have been appearing and rust. Double strength Carbaryl is used for caterpillars and Confidor for aphids, either as a spray or diluted and watered in at the rate of 60 ml for 8" pots and 80 ml for 10" pots. The dilution recommended is 3½ ml of the commercial concentrate in 5 litres of water. Bird netting helps to exclude butterflies.