As cut flowers, Chrysanthemums, have unfortunately got tied up in people's imagination as cheap Petrol station forecourt flowers, but they can be so much more. I've been trying out some of the late spray varieties in my garden and on my allotment for the last few years. This year, i've added more, from a collection at Victoriana Nurseries. - These are completely different to ones i've grown before, and i've loved seeing them come into bud, and then open up into flower.
So here are some pictures and notes about the varieties i've grown this year, and whether they'll make it into the Plantpassion polytunnel for 2014. All of them have been grown as sprays, and nothing has been disbudded. I potted up plants from home and the allotment, and overwintered them in my greenhouse (unheated) - I received rooted cuttings from Chrysanthemums direct in the first week of March, that were planted into 9cm pots, and then potted on to 3litre pots in May, - using a mix of the green waste compost that i've used at Hill top farm for the beds, and a peat free multi purpose. The Victoriana mature plants arrived at the end of May, and were just potted up one size. They were all set out in the Polytunnel after the Sweet peas were removed in the middle of July. They were fed worm leachate only once, but watered very regularly.
The first 2 to colour up this season were Froggy and Heather James. - Here's green button Froggy in a bouquet on the 18th October
and Heather James starting to show colour on the 14th October
I got 6 lovely sprays from the one 4l Heather James plant that I had, they open to a lighter bronze colour, and I cut the last one on the First of November.
The Froggy though has been even more amazing, and when the first 75cm stems had been cut, it then produced a second round of slightly shorter (40cm) stems, still great for posies and jam jar hand tieds, and there are some still coming now.
Last year, this one was still flowering in the garden on the 30th November
The individual flowers last about 3 weeks when cut.
Next to colour up, by the 25th October were Pink Cassandra, Shirley Model red, & Stockton. - All on long straight stems.
These are a lovely colour to pair with pale pink Nerines, the last of my white and pink Anthirrhinums, and the Greens of the Froggy, and Dianthus Green trick. Also in this purply colour are Quinty, which is one i've been growing for 3 years, and along with the Froggy, i'd moved to the Polytunnel. This was flowering very happily by the Beginning of November too, and has continued to put out more stems (slightly thinner, but still lovely flowers)
By the beginning of November I also was delighted to find out that Victoriana had sent me 3 varieties of Spider Chrysanthemum.
As well as the Bronze and Yellow Spider plants, I had something that turned out to be a creamy spider Chrysanthemum, - I think it might be Chesapeake.
These Spider varieties however didn't have as strong stems as most of the others, and grew while I wasn't watching them. Next year, they will require a lot more support. (The picture was taken at the end of August, 2 layers of green netting weren't enough by October)
As well as the cream of the Chesapeake, I also had 2 other cream varieties, but I can't say that either were a complete success. The Delianne that I bought cuttings of from Chrysanthemums Direct, because I was so impressed with their show at Hampton Court last year, - All got Botrytis. I don't think I got a single stem to flowering stage.
This is what they should look like (pictured with Yellow Delianne as well)
So maybe i'll try them outside again next year. The yellow colour in that photo is exactly the same shade, as American Beauty, which also coloured up the first week of November - no photos in focus of that one unfortunately.
This one was the other cream that I grew, but the labelling has got slightly mixed up, - it's not Beacon, and again the stems needed more supporting, so I only got shorter usable flowers. - If you recognise it, please let me know what it is.
and last but not least, - still to flower in the Polytunnel are Geoff Amos (purple buds still) and Mayford Perfection. Just this one flower unfurling, the rest are also tight in bud.
All my pots averaged about 4-5 saleable stems per plant, and i'll overwinter them by just cutting them back, and storing them under my potting tunnel bench without watering them. - Next season when they start growing i'll be taking lots of cuttings (except for the Quinty and Froggy which are covered by Plant breeders rights) so that next year i'll have lots more stems flowering next November.
I think my favourites were the Creamy and Bronze Spiders, and the Purple of Stockton.
i'm also going to have a go at disbudding some next year to make large single flowers.
If you think i'm missing any varieties ( a light pink and an orange maybe) i'd welcome suggestions for ones to add to my collection, - i've been reading and drooling at the photos on the Floret flower farm blog with interest although i'm not sure a lot of the American varieties are available here in the UK. Then of course, i'll just need a bigger Polytunnel next year......