Easy Chrysanthemum Cuttings – No Lights, No Greenhouse! Yes!

Hi Lovelies,

So, chrysanthemums. I’m not talking about the chrysanthemums that you always see for sale out in front of the grocery store in the fall, I’m talking about those amazingly gorgeous florist mums. To be completely honest, before I started this venture into flower growing – I had no idea that these things even existed.

Fast forward to actually attempting to grow them for the first time last year. Chrysanthemum plants are grown from cuttings. I really don’t know the specifics of this, but apparently, the best flowers come from plants with fresh root stock. Don’t quote me on that exactly, but I’m fairly certain I’m repeating what was explained to me, in the simplest way possible. Maybe someone who knows more can weigh-in down in the comments?

So, I planted my freshly ordered cuttings into the hoophouse and things were looking great. I had some nice growth going on, and had even pinched (or stopped) them for the first time. Then, I walked out one morning to find that a cat had decided that the hoophouse was an awesome place to give birth and raise a family. Hesitantly, I abandoned the hoophouse for awhile until the adorable kittens were big enough for homes. Weeks later, it was overrun with 4ft high weeds. It seemed to be a lost cause, and I abandoned the thought to chrysanthemum blooms for the season. I waited until fall, then mowed down the hoophouse plants.

Much to my surprise the chrysanthemum “stools” (Gross, I know. That’s what they’re called!) began to sprout new foliage in February. This wasn’t a complete surprise to me, as I knew that they could somehow be overwintered, and hardy to zone 8 (I think, not certain).  In fact, new growth was actually my hope in leaving the plants in place.

Now that plants began to grow, I was faced with a new dilemma! The previous year, I had tried taking chrysanthemum cuttings under grow lights in the house. It was a complete failure! Not a single cutting made it. The truth is – I don’t have quality grow lights, I don’t have a greenhouse, my hoophouse is very limited, and I don’t have very much experience. This is NOT a good combination for success in taking plant cuttings. I won’t even mention the fact that I just don’t have the money to invest new plants, lol.  The whole situation was really a big mess, ugh!

I began to reflect on my experiences with winter sowing. In a sense, winter sowing containers are nothing more than mini-propagators, acting to provide the best conditions for seed germination. With this thought, I had one of those awesome eureka-light bulb-type moments! I would put my cuttings into winter sowing containers, and root the cuttings outside! Even though the weather had still not turned and I was far from being frost-free, this was a HUGE SUCCESS. 38/38 cuttings. 100% SUCCESS. If you’re not familiar with winter sowing, you can learn a little more about it below:

Winter sowing has done so much for me, in terms of leveling the playing field. For someone with essentially nothing to work with, being able to start seeds (and now propagate) outside was been a total game-changer.

Here’s how I did it:

End of February – I notice new growth on the chrysanthemum stools (last year’s chrysanthemum plant after being cut back). I dig them up and place them into winter sowing containers to encourage new and more rapid growth.

End of March/Early April – Stools have produced enough new growth to take cuttings. I wasn’t specific about this. I simply snapped off 1-2 inch stems from the plants, usually directly under a leaf node. Then, I put the cuttings into their own winter sowing containers. After I sealed the winter sowing containers, I placed them into cool spot. I chose a place that receives sunlight in the early morning and shade in the afternoon and evening. Keeping the containers moist was also a key aspect. I used normal potting soil, and went without rooting hormone (I didn’t have any, lol).

Beginning of May – By the beginning of May. All 38 of the cuttings had taken root. During hot days (80F and above), I sometimes removed the tops of the winter sowing containers. In fact, after the cuttings had rooted, I permanently removed the tops of the containers.

That’s it! I hope that this was somehow helpful! If you’re more of a visual person, definitely be on the lookout for the YouTube video for this post – most likely sometime next week! What are your experiences with chrysanthemum cuttings? I’d love to know all about it in the comments! Hope you’re having a great day! 🙂

2017 Winter Sowing Results

Hi Lovelies!

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It’s definitely been awhile. I’ll admit, I really hate saying that because it makes me realize just how much I really do neglect the blog. I always keep meaning to finally sit down and write up a post, but it always seems like a million other things that I need to do suddenly take precedence. Sorry about that, folks.

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Anywho, this is a post I’ve been meaning to finally sit down and finish for at least a couple weeks – this year’s winter sowing results.

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If you’re unfamiliar with what winter sowing is, I’ve already got a post in which I prepare containers and talk at a little more length. You can find it by clicking here!

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I also have already published a rather extensive list of flowers that I began by winter sowing last year. You can find that by clicking here. If I remember correctly, I go into detail about the success and failure of around 50 different flower varieties that I winter sowed into containers. If I had a different experience this year, I’ll also go ahead and include them in my list in this year’s post. I hope that made sense….

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Hurry up, already! Tell me about what you winter sowed this year!

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This year was quite different than last year. Much to my surprise, the winter was relatively warm and short. I imagine that this may have helped/harmed various seedlings in different ways, but nonetheless, these are my findings:

**Indicates sensitivity to frost

  1. Feverfew – Winter sown in January and February. Excellent germination. Transplanted into the garden before last frost had passed.
  2. Monarda – Winter sown in February. Poor germination around 50%. Will definitely try again, perhaps at a later planting date.
  3. Salvia coccinea – Winter sown in January. Poor germination around 30%. Will try again at a later planting date.
  4. Salvia horminum – Winter sown in January and February. Excellent germination. Transplanted into the garden before the last frost had passed.
  5. Snapdragons – Winter sown in January. Total failure. Previous winter sowings have been very successful with snapdragons. I believe the failure was caused by inconsistent moisture in containers. Will definitely try again next year.
  6. Pansies – Winter sown in January. Excellent germination. Transplanted into the garden before the last frost date had passed. Flowers are currently in bloom.
  7. Cathedral Bells/Cup and Saucer Vine** – Winter sown in February and the end of March. Seeds in February rotted in the container. Total failure. March sowing was extremely successful. Excellent germination. The higher temperatures seemed to be the key to success, despite the instructions on the packet. I’m really, really excited about growing this one!
  8. Hibiscus/Roselle**- Winter sown at the end of March. Last year was a failure. However, this year had excellent results. Seeds are VERY sensitive to rot. Do NOT soak seeds. Make sure medium is evenly moist, but not too wet. Will continue to winter sow these, as they need an extended season.
  9. Quinoa – Winter sown in January. Excellent germination. Do not transplant well. Total loss after transplant. Likely will not winter sow again.
  10. Sweet Peppers** – Pre-sprouted at the end of March and then placed in winter sowing containers. Excellent success rate. Requires cover. Very frost sensitive.
  11. Tomatoes** – Pre-sprouted at the end of March and then placed in winter sowing containers. Excellent success rate. Requires cover. Very frost sensitive.
  12. Celosia** – Winter sown in March. Excellent germination. Previous sowings in February resulted in failure.
  13. Morning Glory** – Winter sown in March. Excellent germination. Previous sowings in February resulted in failure. Warmer weather helped germination. Also, sensitive to moisture and prone to rot. Do not soak.
  14. Lettuce – Winter sown in January and February. Excellent germination. Transplanted into the garden before the last frost had passed.
  15. Alpine Strawberries – Winter sown in January. Good germination rate. Slow growing. Cold hardy, no trouble tolerating frost. Transplanted into herb garden containers.
  16. Scarlet Flax – Winter sown in January. Excellent germination rate. Extremely fast growing. Was not able to transplant into the garden fast enough before plants went to seed in their containers. I plan on trying over winter these plants in the fall, instead.
  17. Annual Phlox – Winter sown in January and February. Excellent germination. Seem to benefit from cold and temperature fluctuation. Planted out into the garden before the last frost date had passed. Will try to over winter these plants this fall.
  18. Cotton** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination. Will continue to winter sow these, as they need an extended season.
  19. Peanuts** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination. Will continue to winter sow these, as they need an extended season.
  20. Leeks – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination rate. Very easy to separate.
  21. Onions – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination rate. Very easy to separate.
  22. Spinach – Winter sown at the end of January. Around 70% germination. Don’t seem to like being transplanted. I will most likely just direct sow the seeds in the future.
  23. Orach – Winter sown in February. Excellent germination. Very fast growing. May be easier to direct sow as soon as soil is workable. Will try to over winter these in the fall.
  24. Shiso/Perilla**(?) – Winter sown at the end of February and March. Excellent germination. Somewhat sensitive to transplanting. However, the germination rate was much better compared to the seeds that were direct sown. Will definitely winter sow these again. Looking forward to seeing these bloom.
  25. Broccoli – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination. Easy to transplant. Will definitely continue to winter sow in the future.
  26. Cauliflower – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination. Easy to transplant. Will definitely continue to winter sow in the future. IMG_1040
  27. Brussels Sprouts – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination. Easy to transplant. Will definitely continue to winter sow in the future.
  28. Kale – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination. Easy to transplant. Will definitely continue to winter sow in the future.
  29. Artichokes – Winter sown at the end of February. Excellent germination, though the seeds are sensitive to rot. Ensure that medium is moist, but not too wet. Prolonged cold also caused problems in the past. Do not soak the seeds. Transplanted well. Artichokes need a period of cool weather to trigger flowering, hopefully winter sowing achieved this.
  30. Celery – Winter sown in February. Excellent germination. Transplanted into the garden before last frost date had passed.
  31. Tomatillos** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination. Extremely fast growing. Will most likely direct sow in the future.
  32. Wheat – Winter sown in January. Excellent germination. Very robust and easy to transplant. It’s definitely easier to direct sow as soon as soil can be worked, but winter sowing is a viable option if the soil is an issue early on.
  33. Basil** –  Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination. Easy to transplant. I have so much basil that I don’t even have enough space to plant it all.
  34. Chamomile – Winter sown in January. Excellent germination. Very cold hardy. Small plants are difficult to transplant. May be easier to just direct sow as soon as the soil can be worked. Transplanted into the garden before the last frost has passed.
  35. Cilantro – Winter sown at the end of February. Excellent germination. Transplanted easily. Winter sown plants in the garden are healthier than those seeds which were direct sowed. IMG_0728
  36. Dill – Winter sown at the end of February. Excellent germination. Transplanted easily. May be easier to direct sow as soon as the soil can be worked.
  37. Lavender – Winter sown in January. Excellent germination (at least for lavender, 14/20 seeds). Very healthy and fragrant seedlings transplanted into herb container after the danger of frost had passed. Really excited about this success!
  38. Mint – Winter sown in January. Excellent germination. Easy to transplant. I seriously have so much mint, I don’t even know what I’m going to do with it.
  39. Ageratum**(?) – Winter sown in January. Ageratum containers were a failure this year. Last year’s were very successful. I’m not sure what caused the issue this year.
  40. Bupleurum – Winter sown in January. Very poor germination for the second year in a row. I will not be winter sowing it again.
  41. Calendula – Winter sown in February and March. Excellent germination. Fast growing plants.
  42. Cosmos** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination. Quickly began to outgrow their winter sowing containers. Though these plants are easy to direct sow, I really enjoy having healthy transplants.
  43. Wild Dagga** – Winter sown at the end of March. 2/10 seed germination. I don’t know much about this plant at all.
  44. Shasta Daisy – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination. Healthy and hearty transplants.
  45. Flowering Cabbage – Winter sown in January and February. Excellent germination. Transplanted into the garden before the last frost date had passed.
  46. Gaillardia – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination. Healthy and hearty transplants. IMG_1052
  47. Globe Amaranth** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination rate. Easy to transplant.
  48. Heliotrope**(?) – Winter sown at the end of March. 60% germination rate. I know very little about this plant. The seedlings seem to be very slow growing, so I’ve planted them in a container to watch them closer. Will try again next year, perhaps winter sowing them earlier.
  49. Marigolds** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination and extremely easy to transplant. Nearly outgrowing their containers before being planted out into the garden.
  50. Nicotiana**(?) – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination and extremely easy to transplant.
  51. Nasturtiums – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination and extremely easy to transplant. Last year’s failure was due to rotting seeds. Be careful not to plant too soon to avoid prolonged periods of cold. Also, keep medium evenly moist. Do not soak seeds before planting into winter sowing containers.
  52. Rudbeckias – Winter sown at the end of January and February. Excellent germination. Healthy and hearty transplants.
  53. Statice – Winter sown in February. Excellent germination rate and easy to transplant before the last frost has passed.
  54. Strawflower – Winter sown in February. Excellent germination rate and easy to transplant before the last frost has passed.
  55. Scented Stocks – Winter sown in February. Excellent germination rate and easy to transplant before the last frost has passed.
  56. Sweet Annie – Winter sown in February. Excellent germination rate and easy to transplant before the last frost has passed. Very fragrant!IMG_0763
  57. Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odorata) – Winter sown in February. Excellent germination rate and easy to transplant before the last frost has passed. Previous failures were the result of rotted seeds. Keep evenly moist, but not wet. Do not soak seeds before planting to containers.
  58. Tithonia** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination. Germinating in winter sowing bottles has proved more successful that direct sowing. I will continue to winter sow.
  59. Zinnia** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination.
  60. Indigo** – Winter sown at the end of March. Excellent germination.
  61. Verbena – Total failure. Sown at the end of March. Containers completely dried out for over a week – totally my own fault.

That’s it! I hope that this giant list was somehow helpful. Thanks for taking the time to read, and of course, don’t forget to check out the YouTube channel if you haven’t already. It would really mean a lot to me – simply search for “freshcutky”. Bye! 🙂

 

 

Winter Sowing Results / Transplanting into the Garden!

Hi Lovelies,

Wow, I seriously can’t believe that it’s already that time of year. While the weather has certainly been all over the place – it’s time to transplant some of my winter sowing containers into the ground!

Now, obviously there’s still a chance of frost here – until the first week of May. However, there are tons of great cold-tolerant plants ready to go out into the yard. Check some of them out, below!

Lettuces!

Kale!

Iceberg Lettuce!

Orach!

Brussel Sprouts!

Broccoli!

Feverfew!

Scented Stocks!

Sweet Peas! (Lathyrus Odoratus)

Trying to Hybridize Daffodils for the First Time!

Hi Lovelies!

I mentioned a few posts ago that I should have planted more bulbs for spring. Maybe it wasn’t a post, it might have been in the podcast. Either way, I was talking about it somewhere! I’m seriously missing the fact that there are no new tulips, ranunculus, hyacinths, or anything else currently in bloom. However, I’ve still got my daffodils! I’ve got daffodils blooming everywhere!

With a little extra spare time on my hands, it was inevitable that I would eventually get the bright idea to try creating my own daffodil hybrid!

I’ll admit, when it comes to plant breeding, I am the absolute definition of the word “amateur”. I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing, but after consulting the internet – I decided I would try!

At a basic level, I proceeded as follows:

  1. Find a pollen donor.
  2. Find a seed parent.
  3. Remove pollen via tweezers, paintbrush, etc.
  4. Apply pollen to stigma of seed parent.
  5. Tag and wait to collect seeds.

It’s important to realize that things are totally not as simplistic as I make them seem in this post. I usually aim for simplicity whenever I write about things that I don’t fully have a grasp of. I’m sure there are tons of factors that I’ve not even given thought. For example, daffodils have “perfect” flowers which enable them to potentially self-pollinate. I honestly have no idea at what rate this occurs. I’m sure removing pollen from the seed parent would be an important step if one was out to create an uncontaminated cross. There are various types of narcissus, and I can’t say with certainty that all types will readily/freely cross with each other. You get the idea. One of the reasons that I love blogging and social media so much is to share experiences and ideas – even if something that I try is a complete failure, it may actually be helpful to someone out there!

For more info, check out the YouTube video that goes with this blog post:

Easy to Grow, Direct Sow Summer Annual Flowers – Ornamental Gardening

Hi Lovelies!

It’s that time of the year, again! I’m over-the-moon, insanely excited to start growing things again – but it’s not quite the time, yet! Anywho, since I literally haven’t been able to think about anything but growing and planting flowers; I thought I would go ahead and answer a common question that seems to pop-up pretty frequently. That question, of course, is: “What are some good flowers to grow for someone who’s never grown any before?”

Even though I’ve been growing flowers for awhile now, I still can’t help but want to classify myself as a “beginner” gardener. I have learned so much through the process of trial and error, with lots and lots of emphasis on the word “error.” Though the last thing I would ever do would consider myself an expert (about anything, lol), I have learned quite a bit from the school of “this garden is a total disaster. Do you even have any clue what you’re doing?!”

Below, I’ve picked my absolute favorite garden plants for beginner gardeners who are completely new growing flowers. The reason that I decided on these flowers is that, for the most part, they are very forgiving. As always, it’s important to keep in mind that every garden is different. What’s easy for me, may not be easy for you – and vice versa. These suggestions are based on my own personal experiences. Please feel free to add your own experiences in the comments section! Hope you’re having a really great day! 🙂

Many ornamental flowers and cut flowers are TOXIC. ALWAYS do your own research and take responsibility for the plants that you introduce around your kids, pets, and everyone else. Use common sense when handling plant materials: wear gloves, always wash hands, avoid contact with face, etc. NEVER consume any plant which you have not positively identified with complete certainty to be safe and edible. Before planting anything, research to determine whether specific flowers are considered invasive where you live or if there are laws that apply to their planting in your area.

Scarlet Runner Beans – I love scarlet runner beans for many reasons. Most notably, their profusion of gorgeous red blooms. Though these runner beans aren’t the greatest for cut flowers, they’re generally carefree and easy to grow – provided they are given an adequate trellis to climb! Direct sow the seeds after all chance of frost.

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Sunflowers – I can’t make a list of easy to grow annual flowers, without including sunflowers. Before I started gardening, sunflowers were one of the very few flowers that I even knew the name of and could identify. I know that some people really dislike growing sunflowers, but for me, I would never want to have a garden without them. Simply direct sow after the threat of frost is gone.

Amaranth – Amaranth is another one of my all-time favorite plants. Upon first glace, it may not seem very exciting. However, it’s dual -purpose makes me want to happy dance through the garden. There are a few different types of amaranth – some better used for greens and some better used for grains. Both foliage and grain types of amaranths can also be used as cut flowers. The seeds are easy to direct sow after the danger of frost and often reseed themselves freely. In fact, I still have volunteers coming up from the variety that I planted 5 years ago. I always let my volunteers go to seed, and they seem to take care of themselves quite well. Amaranths don’t seem to like being transplanted, so the scattered look of direct seeded plants is perfectly okay with me.

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Nasturtiums – Nasturtiums are another one of my favorite dual-purpose garden plants. Not only are they beautiful, they’re insanely easy to grow (direct sowing after frost, noticing a pattern?). Many people choose to include nasturtiums in their veggie gardens, but its foliage can also add a nice creative touch to flower arrangements.

Zinnias – I think zinnias may be my favorite flowers. After all, a package of zinnia seeds is what started it all – this flower madness. Zinnias are perfect for a beginner gardener with warm summer temperatures. Though those who live in milder climates may not have the same luck with these flowers. Zinnias thrive in my summer heat, and often reach over 6 feet tall from direct sowing after the threat of frost is gone.

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Balsam – While balsam may not be as popular as zinnias, in my garden, they have proven themselves to be just as easy to grow. I simply direct sow after the chance of frost is gone. Since balsam is in the impatiens family, I usually direct sow these flowers in part shade. However,  I have seen conflicting info online that would indicate that they may prefer a full-sun location. They seem to do really well in the hot summer weather and are usually pretty carefree.

Hyacinth Vine, Mina Lobata Vine, and Morning Glory – Annual vines are a great way to add visual interest into your garden. I use beautiful climbing vines such as these to cover my ugly privacy fence, and of course, try to block out my curious (and obnoxious) neighbors. All three of these vines are easily direct sown into the garden after the danger frost has passed. Make sure to provide a strong trellis, as some of these plants can get surprisingly heavy!

For more examples of summer annuals that are super easy to grow from seed, you may want to check out my latest YouTube video below!

Also, there’s a new podcast today on SoundCloud! Be sure to check it out!

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What is “@freshcutky“?

@freshcutky documents the pursuit of my goal of one day owning my own cut flower farm. Along the way, you’ll will see random projects, cooking, and of course – growing stuff. I’m not an expert, and would never claim to be. There’s always more to learn – this is my journey. The purpose of my blog, and other social media accounts (including YouTube) is to share ideas. I do my best to offer information that is useful, but reliance on that information is strictly at your own risk and NOT a substitute for professional advice of any kind. I do not create sponsored content or use affiliate links unless they have been explicitly discussed.