Now that the bloom season is behind us it’s time to start taking care of our stock for next year’s cuttings.
Once your mums have finished flowering, cut them back leaving a stem that is short (1”-3”). Remove all laterals and leaves. Clean up your pots and store them in a cool dry space sheltered from wind, rain and slugs. It is important for the stool to remain relatively dry during this short dormant period. This chilling will help produce much stronger cuttings for next year’s growing cycle. You may have to protect them from hard freezing (Lower than 28 deg.) Mums are hardy and most plants can stand a night or more of freezing temperatures, but 3 consecutive nights of hard freezing will probably kill all but the hardiest mums. During severe cold snaps a garage, shed, greenhouse, cold frame, or a tarp can be used temporarily to protect the plants till the cold subsides.
Three to four weeks before the desired cutting times bring the stools into a well lit, heated area (60 deg. For example), water them and fertilize with a high Nitrogen fertilizer such as Miracle Grow to stimulate new growth. Ouch! This is the only time you will hear me use the name Miracle Grow. The rest of the year I avoid it like the plague.
This brings us to the final topic, “Timing: How do we fit all these activities together? Let’s assume we get our plants cleaned up and put in the cool dry place by Nov. 20th and we want to start cuttings on Jan 15 th. How does it all fit?
Start dormant period – Nov 20th. Bring in, fertilize and heat -Dec 20th. Start cuttings -Jan. 20th. Fungicide spraying, 3 times: Nov 20, Dec 15th and Jan 10th. You see it’s pretty tight but you can get your 3 fungicide sprayings in.
Lastly there has been considerable discussion between members as to when we need to start our cuttings. That will continue and we will provide more on that subject in the Dec. or Jan newsletter.
3) By Jan-Feb your stock should be ready to start taking cuttings. It’s important that you identify your best plants from each variety and try to get your cutting from those plants. Weak or diseased plants should be destroyed.