So far, this hasn’t been a great year for our heirloom chrysanthemums. The plants aren’t as tall as usual, and their summer growth was not strong. Don is now the chief the mum grower at Tiny Footprint Flowers, but I’ve grown a few in the past and I remember that the plants were large by early summer, and I would cut back excess growth up to July, when it’s time for buds to start developing. This year we’re barely seeing enough growth to give us hope for a good show of fall blooms.
Mums aren’t the only plants that got off to a late start - we think it’s because we’ve had such a cool, rainy winter and spring. Don has mums in three different locations this year, and the only place they’re growing tall is where they’re all second year plants. He thinks the cool weather made it hard for first year cuttings to get established.
The other problem he’s had in one location is gophers – curses on them! Early in the growing season he lost several baby plants – they simply disappeared. Gopher fencing helped, the Gopher Hawk traps helped too, but it’s hard to keep up with gophers. Don has seen some snakes in his growing field - the garter snakes might be too small to help, but gopher snakes are around too, and they might help.
Black aphids are another problem. These seem to inevitable with mums, and Don is still evaluating different organic controls. Simply brushing them off is one way to go, detergent sprays also help. Sometimes one variety gets tons of these pests while the variety a foot away is completely unaffected.
But in spite of all that, Don is now seeing buds, and he’s busy disbudding some of the plants – choosing to limit the number of buds so that he gets bigger flowers. He’s not growing for show, so he doesn’t need monster-size blooms, only beautiful healthy flowers for our bouquets and for other florists. I’m hoping for lots of Seaton’s J’Dore, Apricot Alexis, Annie Girl and Rose Maiko (just a few of my faves!).