Chrysanthemums were traditionally known as ‘ yellow gold’ because of the popular variety with compact yellow flowers. They adorn gardens with their lovely blooms in a host of hues and sizes during the cold winter months of Delhi. When the flowers have faded, this beautiful plant can be propagated easily to provide lush green foliage throughout the year, culminating in another show of long lasting flowers at the end.
Propagation from suckers and cuttings can be started as early as the end of January and continued until the middle of February. Chrysanthemum cuttings can again be taken at the end of June until the end of July.
Preparation of pot for propagation
A wide shallow pot such as a clay tasla is ideal for growing cuttings.
Place a 1 inch layer of broken clay pieces ( thikre) at the bottom of the pot. Mix a little cinnamon powder ( as a fungicide) into sterilised river sand and then add this to the pot. If river sand is not available then prepare a mix with any other sterilised coarse sand and normal garden soil in equal quantities ( again add a little bit of cinnamon powder as a fungicide).
Timeline for propagation
When the plant has finished flowering remove all dead flower heads. This stimulates growth of suckers from the base of the mother plant.
End of January to Second week of February
Propagation can be done at this time. The daytime temperature should not exceed 25°C.
Uproot the suckers from around the mother plant and place in the prepared pot. Cuttings can also be taken from the mother plant. Take 4 inch cuttings, remove all leaves except ones that are unopened. Dip the end in hormone rooting powder or cinnamon powder and place in the prepared mix.
Suckers and cuttings can be placed together. They can be placed close together for better growth. Place the pot in semi shade and protect from the cold morning dew. Water sparingly.
March to Beginning of April
Prepare the following growing medium for saplings from suckers and cuttings:
Mix 2 thirds sterilised river sand with 1 third compost ( gobar khad, vermicompost or homemade compost). Prepare a shallow plant pot with this mixture as detailed previously. Gently separate saplings and repot them in this new mixture, but this time ensuring a good gap between each. Place in semi shade and do not over water. Do not fertilise plants at this stage. At this time there will be good development of roots, but less visible plant growth.
Towards the end of March follow the procedure given below for mother plants that are in plant pots:
Remove the topmost layer of soil until the top roots can be seen. Cover with sterilised river sand. Remove all foliage from the stem, leaving only the leaves at the apex. Place In semi shade where the plant receives 1 hour of morning or evening sun.
In the first week of April when daytime temperatures are between 28 and 30°C and night-time temperatures are about 15 to 16°C, saplings should be transplanted into 4 – 6 inch pots. The soil mix remains the same ( 1 third compost and 2 thirds river sand). Place pots in a shady area and feed with a dilute liquid fertiliser every 15 days.
Mid April to June
Do not allow the plant to get too tall. Keep pinching the apexes of all branches. This will ensure a bushy plant. Water only as needed. If any leaves show presence of black spots remove those leaves immediately.
The hot sunny days of May and June are ideal for sterilising the soil that is to be used for the final potting mix. Also at this time fungicide should be added to compost and kept aside to be used for the soil mix later in June. If bird droppings are available these too can be added to the compost.
Prepare the soil mix at the end of June by adding two thirds soil to one third compost.
The sapling will have developed into a 12 inch bushy ball by now.
Prepare a 12 inch pot by placing a 1 inch layer of clay pieces( thikre) at the bottom. Repot the plant in this using the prepared mix. This is the time to stake the plant, so that it stays upright. Prune all the apexes and keep trimming regularly to mantain the shape of the plant. Keep rotating the plant every 15 days so that it maintains its shape.
July to September
Maintain regular feeding with a good liquid fertiliser. Do not water the plant the day before feeding. Plant may start to wilt, but will revive after the addition of liquid fertiliser.
It is also beneficial to spray the plant regularly with a mild soap, tobacco or neem pesticide to keep pests at bay.
Follow these steps and the chrysanthemum plant will start forming buds towards the end of October or beginning of November. It will then reward you with a spectacular show of colour in the drab, dull days of winter.