Some common mistakes can lose all your chrysanthemum plants

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Namaskar Desi Gardeners. Chrysanthemums are such pretty flowers for the winters in India, isn’t it? As I always say, climate in India with its temperature and rainfall – needs special knowledge. We cannot follow the guidelines for USDA zones or for European gardens. They provide a lot of data but we have to filter it and see for ourselves what works here, in our weather and soil.

For me, it has been a trial and error for many plants. I have been growing chrysanthemums for years. With time, I had learnt to pinch the plant to make it bushier. I have followed gardening articles and seen other gardeners. I call myself a learner and I like to experiment a lot. However, one of my experiments failed.

What went wrong with chrysanthemums and its cuttings? 

The year is 2021 and it has been soaking wet. Rains have been erratic and the showers heavy.

All gardeners will recommend you to keep your ‘mums’ away from the continuous rains. Although the chrysanthemum is quite a hassle-free plant, it can be affected by fungus. Unfortunately, I do not have shaded area where I could keep so many pots and so had to leave it in the open garden.

Although I applied fungicide (Saaf or Bavistin) regularly, the plants got affected by spot fungus. The rains went on almost everyday for two weeks. It became difficult to apply either systemic or contact fungicide, the rain washing it away.

If you do not know what systemic or contact fungicide, read these next paragraphs.

In the gardening world whenever we use a medicine on plants – pesticide, fungicide, insecticide – we should know whether it is systemic, contact or both. It means how it works on the plant. Contact pesticide, fungicide, insecticide has to be sprayed on the plant because it is works on the surface. It can be absorbed and stored to be used by the plant whenever there is an infestation. By mistake if contact fungicide is put into the soil, it will not work properly. Dhanuka Mancozeb is a popular contact fungicide.

Systemic pesticide, fungicide, insecticide should be applied in the soil dissolved in water. You can also mix with the soil during potting. The root absorbs it and distributes all over the plant. If you spray systemic fungicide on plant its efficiency will be reduced. Bavistin is one of the most famous systemic fungicides.

There are some which are both systemic and contact, like the Saaf fungicide. It will work if you spray it or put into the soil.

So, the chrysanthemums got fungal leaf spots. This is similar to leaf blight but the leaves do not curl. There were small brown dots over the leaf. It is a contagious disease especially if you have rose plants. I kept the mums away from other plants. Later I found out that the leaf spot disease came from a neighbour’s plant that had overgrown in the monsoon and had been hanging towards our garden crossing the four-feet boundary wall. It first affected my big and healthy Powder Puff and then affected the chrysanthemums that I had kept under its shade. By the time I discovered it, the Calliandra and mums were quite sick. As the Powder Puff was a big and mature plant of many years, it survived the heavy pruning and took a couple of months to recover.

The chrysanthemums were not so lucky. Especially the cuttings.

You see, the older plants were in a bad condition but were still alive. The cuttings which I had planted a month back had been growing well till now. Yet the continuous wet soil and fungal attack was too much for those. I lost about ten to twelve cutting that had turned to young plants already. I removed affected leaves, applied fungicide frequently and kept the pot clean of dead matter. Yet I failed.

That made me think, what did I do wrong this time? I had been growing chrysanthemums for years. I have had cuttings and those grew without any hassle. Yes, the rains were more this year but that should not have killed all like this. All the other plants were fine. In fact, I had repotted and prepared my mums for the winter just before the monsoon.

And I had followed some nice European garden videos.

Do not repeat my gardening mistake 

YouTube has a lot of wonderful videos from gardeners all over the world. These are absolutely wonderful to watch. It is so amazing that gardeners all over the world, of all races, think the same way 😊

So I was watching some nice videos of a premium British gardener showing how to take the right cuttings and soil needs of chrysanthemums. In this he recommended putting the cuttings in cocopeat for easier root growth. The potting mix had a lot of cocopeat too.

It worked great for him and the mums were blooming a lot. When I did the same it was a disaster.

Was his advice incorrect? Absolutely not.

This is why I emphasize about desi gardening. Climate in India is different, the temperature is different, so the needs are different.

It was too much cocopeat that killed my cuttings. I had decided to grow in soilless potting mix. I have done the same process before for other plants. I planted a cutting of my bleeding heart and it has grown well into a healthy plant.

Bleeding heart does not mind wet weather but chrysanthemums do. The cocopeat holds moisture, although the pot was well draining. In the rainy season, there is always some water standing on the ground and I saw the cocopeat soaking it up.

The previous years, I had planted my mums in garden soil. Although the rains stress these but they survived.

So, it was not only the rain but mostly the potting medium. From now on, I will use less or almost no cocopeat and instead, more soil and sand for my mums so they can survive the rains. The Bleeding heart is happy with the cocopeat and is blooming all through the monsoon. Had it been any other weather, the chrysanthemums would have definitely survived in cocopeat.

I shared my little experience with you so that you understand how gardening works for everyone and in every country. I hope this will help you too.

 

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