Ring Culture of Chrysanthemums
Ring Culture of Chrysanthemums
Various plants now are grown by themethod but indoor respond particularly well to this treatment. The basic technique involves growing plants in bottomless pots or other containers – the ‘rings’ – which are placed on a bed of a free-draining material, the ‘aggregate’. The pots are never watered, except when feeding the plants, but the aggregate is kept continually moist. This encourages the roots to grow down into the bed. The plants eventually form. Large, strong root systems in the bed and this results in larger plants and . The plants, being more vigorous than when grown by the usual method, are much healthier and damage from disease will be less, if present at all. The for the of chrysanthemums, they are grown on an outside bed of aggregate during the summer and are then moved into a greenhouse and grown on another bed.
Commencing a of chrysanthemums takes a lot of the worry out of growing indoor chrysanthemums, especially when it comes to watering. If the plants are grown by the usual method then the pots are liable to dry out rapidly during the summer and this results in uneven growth which is most undesirable. Once the ring culture chrysanthemum plants have rooted into the aggregate there will be no worries about them drying out, provided the bed is watered once a day. This moisture round the base of the plants also keeps the atmosphere moist which is conductive to healthy growth.
With the ring culture method there is less trouble from-born pests and diseases, as the roots of the plants cannot penetrate the soil below the aggregate bed which has an impervious material, such as polythene sheeting, beneath it.
This must possess two main properties. Firstly, it must be capable of retaining sufficient moisture for the plants. Secondly, any surplus water must be able to drain rapidly from it, as the plants must not become. Screened coarse industrial ashes are ideal, provided the particles are not more than 5/8 inch in diameter. The ashes musts be screened as no dust-like particles should be present, otherwise the bed will pack down and water-logging will occur. Ashes from a household fire are not usually suitable. The ashes should be weathered for three months before use. Screened gravel (maximum diameter 1/4 inch) is also very suitable.
The aggregate bed outside should be large enough to enable the plants to be spaced out as I outlined when I talked about the summer standing ground when Growing Greenhouse Chrysanthemums in Summer. The stakes and wires to support the plants are erected similarly The bed of aggregate should be 6 in. deep and placed on a sheet of polythene or similar material. Use boards or bricks to retain the aggregate. In the greenhouse a 6 in. depth of soil can be taken out, polythene sheeting put down and then filled with aggregate.
This avoids loss of height in a small greenhouse. Before setting the plants on the bed, water the aggregate thoroughly so that it settles.
Containers and Compost
The containers, as I have mentioned, should be bottomless, as the compost must be in close contact with the aggregate to allow water to pass upwards. The containers or rings may be purchased in either clay the same as ordinary flower pots concrete or plastic. Bituminised cardboard rings are also available but these last for only one season. Bottomless wooden boxes or tins would also be suitable. The size of container is important. The usual size is 9 in. deep by 9 in. across there is no need to have larger sizes than this. John Innes No. 2 Potting Compost is recommended.
Raising the Chrysanthemum Plants
Chrysanthemum cuttings are taken at the usual times and the rooted cuttings are potted into 3-1/2 in. pots. These plants may then go straight into the 9 in. rings when they go outside in early June. The exceptions to this rule are large exhibition varieties and all plants intended for exhibition. These should be potted on into 5 in. pots and then into the rings, as this seems to suit them better and larger plants result.
The rings are spaced out at the distances recommended for normal culture, on the prepared aggregate bed in early June. They are then filled with compost – which should be made firm – to within of the top to allow for liquid feeding
Make a planting hole in the compost and insert the plant, firming it in really well. For 5 in. pots, place a suitable depth of compost in the ring first, stand the plant on this and then fill up with more compost, taking care to firm it thoroughly. Do not plant the chrysanthemums any deeper than they were in their previous pots. After planting water the rings thoroughly. From then on watering is confined to the aggregate unless the weather is exceptionally hot and dry, when the plants may start to wilt before they have rooted into the bed.
The summer treatment of ring culture chrysanthemums is the same as for normal methods of growing. The aggregate bed will not usually need watering more than once a day, but it is advisable to check it for moisture each day. On no account must it be allowed to dry out. The feeding programme is the same as for normal culture except that a liquid fertiliser must be used dry fertilisers are not suitable because they cannot be watered in properly due to the fact that normal watering is confined to the aggregate. When feeding, ensure that the compost becomes thoroughly soaked with the fertiliser. No top-dressings of compost will be necessary.
Housing the Chrysanthemum Plants
The plants are housed at the usual time. It is the practice with some gardeners to growin the greenhouse during the summer by the ring culture method, and then to clear these out at the end of the summer so that the same aggregate bed can be used for their chrysanthemum plants. Once the have been cleared, the greenhouse should be cleaned out thoroughly. Then dig out a trench about 4 in. deep and 15 to 16 in. wide in the greenhouse aggregate bed to accommodate the large root systems of the chrysanthemum plants.
When bringing in the chrysanthemums from the open, it will be easier if two people can lift them as they will be rather heavy and awkward. Drive garden forks down into the aggregate on each side of the ring and about 10 in. away from it. Then push the forks under the ring and gently prise it up. The mass of fibrous roots will come up easily with the ring. Then transport the plant straight into the greenhouse and place it in the trench at the same depth as it was in the open ground. Cover the root ball with aggregate so that the ring remains sitting on the surface of the bed. When the chrysanthemum plants are in position water the aggregate in order to settle the roots. It is best to move only one plant at a time to lessen the risk of the roots drying out. This moving of the plants may seem rather drastic treatment, but there is no risk whatever of a check to the plants provided the job is carried out carefully.