When to Feed and Water Chrysanthemums
If the chrysanthemums have been planted in showery weather on a still day they do not need to be watered. It is better to let the roots run in moist soil than to drown them with copious applications of water. If the plants begin to droop, resort to gentle ball-watering; that is, give them water close to the stem, and only sufficient to moisten the roots without souring the unoccupied soil round them.
In very dry summers it may be necessary to water the whole site soon after planting and then at regular intervals, depending on weather conditions. On these occasions, water heavily, wetting the soil to a depth of 6 to 9 in. Do not water again until the next occasion for a thorough wetting. Dribbles of water every evening are harmful, for they bring the roots near to the surface of the soil, where they are more vulnerable than ever to drought and scorching. Chrysanthemums need water only when their lower leaves begin to flag.
Overhead spraying is an excellent way of sustaining the plants and helping newly planted specimens to take hold in the soil. The top of the plant benefits, it ceases to lose moisture through the leaves and the roots are not pushed into activity. Contrary to the old belief, over-head spraying is beneficial even when the sun is shining on the plants, but it is better to wait until the sun is just setting, for then most of the moisture is retained on the foliage, fortifying the plant against a drying air the following morning.
Another way to avoid heavy watering of large areas is to sink 5-in. pots up to their rims in the bed, 6 to 12 in. to one side of each group of chrysanthemums. Water poured into these percolates to the roots well out of reach of sun and wind. This is a good way, also, to give the plants liquid feeding later on.
If the soil is properly prepared, feeding is not really necessary, but within reasonable limits it can be helpful. Use one of the special chrysanthemum, although any balanced will be safe if it is used according to the maker’s instructions. Apply either a dry or liquid fertilizer once a fortnight until the flower buds begin to swell. Then give no more.
For the first month use a Dutch hoe to get rid of weeds and to keep aof dust on the surface. But cease about the middle of June. By then the roots will have spread over the whole site, many of them will be in the top few inches of the soil, and a hoe might damage them.
Weeding should then be done by hand. Better still, especially on light soil, spread a mulch of rotted manure,, compost or rotted straw. This not only chokes the weeds but keeps the soil cool and moist, and has an excellent effect on the chrysanthemums.