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! 🙂