My Favorite Fall Hobby: Growing Chrysanthemums for Show Competitions
Mar 1st, 2012 | By Pat Stockett Johnston | Category: Gardening, Home & Food
By Pat Stockett Johnston –
My favorite fall hobby is growing chrysanthemums (mums) for show competitions. I start preparing for the fall by ordering rooted cutting from Kings Mums catalog or taking cuttings from my last year’s mum plants in April. However, much of the work for growing mums for show competitions occurs in August, September, and October.
Picture #1: In order to control the height of the mum plants, I cut them back to 5-6 leaves in July. When new growth has reached 12-15 inches, I prune the plant back to three stems, and disbud all new growth from all but the top leaf. That growth will be the one flower I allow to grow on a stem.
Picture #2: When the stems are tall enough, I stake them to a 5-foot bamboo pole to keep the stem straight and to support the new bloom as it grows. It’s important to support the bloom with the stake as the bloom matures. Otherwise, the bloom will be too heavy for the stem and the bloom might lean forward or break off.
Picture #3: Different mum cultivars bloom at different times in the fall. Notice how the flowers on this spider mum cultivar are of different sizes. I’m happy about this, because that means I may be able to enter a spider bloom in two mums shows, as the shows in the Southwest are scheduled for different week-ends.
Picture #4: I will enter my blooms in the Orange County, Descanso, and Phoenix Chrysanthemum Society Show competitions. I carefully cut each stem 24 inches, put it in a glass bottle and into a 5-gallon bucket along with three other blooms. I separate the bottles with crushed newspaper so that the blooms don’t touch each other during the journey to the show.
Picture #5. Each Chrysanthemum Society provides vases in which to display mums. The flowers are put on tables according to their classification: irregular incurve, pompon, spider, etc. The National Chrysanthemum Society supervises the accreditation process of judges for mum shows. It’s always exciting when one of my blooms receives a purple ribbon for being the best bloom in its class.
Cost of Growing Chrysanthemums for Show Competitions
Growing chrysanthemums for show does require the purchase of potting soil, fertilizer, pest control sprays, 2″, 4″, 6″ and 10″ pots, and stakes. I spend about $300.00 a year on this hobby, not counting travel costs to chrysanthemum shows.
Even if none of my flowers won ribbons, the pleasure of growing beautiful chrysanthemums would keep me involved with my favorite fall hobby’”growing chrysanthemums for show competitions.
Pat is a Southern Cal based freelance writer of articles, devotionals, and books; wife of Gordon; mother of Beverly, Keith, Joanne, and Craig; grandma to seven of the smartest kids around. I grow chrysanthemums for show competitions. Learn writing tips on her blog: http://patstockettjohnston.blogspot.com/.