Chrysanthemums – love/hate relationship ?

16 Nov

Is growing chrysanthemums a sign of getting older? I hope not! But I did, for the first time ever, give it a go this year.

I think the reason I’ve never been a huge fan of them is their ubiquitous presence in supermarket flowers.
One of the reasons I choose to grow more flowers than vegetables in my allotment is because I abhor the lack of seasonality in shop bought cut flowers these days. Every florist sells lilies and chrysanthemums all year round. I know they’re good value and have an exceptional vase life but I want flowers to change from month to month – daffs, then tulips, then peonies, then sweet Williams, all the way thru to chrysanthemums and dahlias in October. I’d almost rather have no flowers than out of season flowers!

Some florists are cottoning on to this and are selling their own home grown flowers – with gorgeous results ! Check out my lovely friend Caroline at Cherfold Cottage flowers and her amazing cutting garden and beautiful arrangements of seasonal flowers. Sadly Caroline only supplies flowers locally so I have to make do with envious glances at her Instagram photos !

So I thought growing chrysanthemums was a good idea – I took the easy option and ordered some rooted cuttings from Sarah Raven – her Jewel Collection.

This is made up of
Chrysanthemum ‘Blenda Purple’
Chrysanthemum ‘Bella Orange’
Chrysanthemum ‘Bruno Bronze’
Chrysanthemum ‘Littleton Red’
Chrysanthemum ‘Smokey Purple’
Chrysanthemum ‘Payton Blaze Red’

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They arrived looking sprightly in April – about the same time as the dahlias. I potted them up into small pots and nurtured them in the greenhouse for a month or so before planting them out on the allotment.

Then I ignored them for several months, apart from the very infrequent can of water and a bit of cursory weeding, and staking.

By September they were all about 18″ tall and forming buds. Like my dahlias they have clearly struggled with a warm dry end of summer and have not grown into impressive specimens and I haven’t really had more than a couple of sprays of flowers off each plant.

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But as a cut flower they have been a useful addition at the end of the season. Their colours have blended well with my dahlias and they do have an extraordinary vase life – I’ve moved them from vase to vase as the other flowers with them have died off. They did seem to be quite short stemmed but I’m not sure whether that was just my feeble plants. And that was fine with my rather short stemmed dahlias.

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Sarah Raven grows hers in large pots that bulk up in poly tunnels before being transplanted ( still in their pot) to the cutting garden. And then she returns them to the poly tunnel in November where they continue to flower over Xmas. Obviously I’d do the same if I had a poly tunnel ! So mine will probably have to fend for themselves over the winter and may or may not survive.

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I’m still in two minds as to whether i’ll order more for next year. I liked them but didn’t love them. They don’t have the wow factor of dahlias but do have a better vase life.

What do you think ?

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One Response to “Chrysanthemums – love/hate relationship ?”

  1. Aunty Betty November 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Darling Ems,
    I’m definitely a dahlia girl and think Sarah Raven has some beauties in her collection. I confess also to buying white lilies for my kitchen when all my roses have stopped blooming,,,though I still have some going strong, but need the colour outside not in! I love your blogs by the way, and really look forward to them dropping into my inbox. xxxxx

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