Planting Sites and Soil for Chrysanthemums
The arrangement of planting sites depends upon the purpose for which the plants are being grown. The two main purposes for which chrysanthemums are grown are, first, to form part of a planned border to give colour and interest after thehave faded, and second, to provide cut blooms for the house.
Do not set the plants singly in the border, but in groups of at least three of the same variety. This not only gives a more solid patch of colour but also maintains the colour for a longer period; one plant may be several days earlier or later than its neighbours in producing its main crop of flowers, and there will be variations in the dates at which individual stems will flower.
In addition to groups of chrysanthemums in the border, there is much to be said for a bed devoted to them alone. Before they flower their foliage is quite attractive and any tendency to dullness can be relieved by an edging of summer-floweringand taller plants dotted here and there among the chrysanthemums themselves. A good edging is the dwarf perennial matricaria, which is easily raised from seed, and looks very like a miniature chrysanthemum.
Plants grown to provide cut flowers for the house are best grown in a convenient, separate bed.
Chrysanthemums are very adaptable. They prefer a slightly acid soil, although exhibition blooms are often grown on ground which is highly alkaline. More important is the physical state of the soil, and half the secret of growing chrysanthemums lies in its preparation. In the three warmest and driest months of the year they have to develop from small, comparatively soft plants into well- branched specimens with adequate rooting systems. The soil must, therefore, be retentive of moisture and contain enough body to give the plants a firm root-run; shallow,should be built up over the years by the systematic addition of organic material. The soil must also be well supplied with plant foods.
The two outstanding needs of chrysanthemums are an adequate reserve of moisture and sufficient slow-acting, preferably both chemical and organic.
PREPARATION OF THE SOIL
Dig the ground over in the autumn, incorporating a bucketful of rotted manure to every sq. yd. and working in a liberal dusting of bone meal. If manure is not available, rottedor will provide sufficient humus to hold the moisture. Leave the soil to weather throughout the winter. Three weeks before planting give the ground a dressing of the balanced fertilizer sold specially for chrysanthemums. Apply 4 oz. to the sq. yd. and work the fertilizer into the top few inches. Do not add lime if the ground is already on the alkaline side, since the aim is to keep the bed slightly acid. Be guided by what is known about the soil.
The ideal time for planting out chrysanthemums is during quiet, showery weather when the soil crumbles nicely to the touch but is not moist enough to stick to trowel or shoes. Good seed-sowing weather is just right.
There are two preliminaries to planting out. First, plan carefully, taking into account the height and habit on maturity of the different varieties. Then, where each plant is to grow, put in a stake of the height to which it will grow, setting the1-1/2 ft. apart in each group.
Secondly, water the stock well the day before planting; it will already have been exposed to the weather for at least a week.
It is vital, in planting young chrysanthemums, to give them a good start by encouraging their roots to run quickly into the new soil. Take out a hole, therefore, just a little bigger than the root ball of the plant, and stir into its base a little compound fertilizer specially prepared for chrysanthemums or some hop manure. Do not overdo it; follow the instructions on the fertilizer packet.
Place the plant slightly lower in the soil than it was originally in the box, then gently work fine soil round the roots, firming it as the hole is filled. Have a few buckets of sifted soil handy for this purpose in case theis lumpy. Plant close up to the stake and make the soil firm. Medium and heavy soils can be firmed sufficiently by finger pressure; light soils need gentle foot pressure. Loop the plant at once to the stake in such a way that it is supported but not constricted. At every stage of growth it is important for plants to be able to move with the breeze. If they are tied too tightly they may snap.