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May 2019 Cultural Notes and To Do List

TO DO LIST for May and June (revised DRS 4/25/05)


Most plants are stopped April 15 through June 1, including the Early English classes. Keep your stop list handy and follow it rigorously(Click on Cultivars of ECA on website if you have lost your copy). The calendar doesn’t move backwards. For #1 and #2 varieties the English literature recommends a fairly hard pinch; that is pinching 6-8 leafs down from the growing tip. For the incurves, #3, #13, #23 pinch the smallest portion of the growing tip to get more uniform growth of the laterals. For all varieties, fertilize 1-2 weeks before pinching to produce more laterals. This is especially true for the Fairweathers.

Final Potting into 8”, 9” or 10” pots. (Or maybe in the garden soil)
Wash pots (in mild Clorox solution) then rinse in clear water.
Prepare potting mix. – Soilless (M&R) users; add another 5-10% of screened pumice or Perlite to improve drainage. Also at this final stage, I recommend adding Cedar Grove compost or other fresh compost and a small amount of well-composted horse manure. This results in a mix of 6 parts M&R soil less, 4 parts compost, 1 part pumice, and small amounts of horse manure and Alfalfa meal. Water plants in the 6” pots 1 day before repotting.

Potting (Pot on when the ring of roots around the bottom of the pot is semi root bound.) Cover drain holes in bottom of clay pots with a piece of broken crock to keep drain clear. Put a layer of broken sod or course pumice in the bottom of pot, then cover with 1 or 2 inches of the final (9”) mix. Place the 6” root ball on top of the 9” mix and fill around with the 9” mix. The top of the root ball should be 1+ inch below the top of the pot. Do not pack the mix except as necessary to hold the plant and stake in place. Stake with shingle or bamboo stick.
Add Marathon Systemic at this time to control black aphids. Sprinkle ½ tspn. Marathon on top of soil when repotting plant, add a thin layer of mix over the top, then water moderately.

Note: When potting on occurs after June 1, Consider dropping down one pot size because the roots will not have time to fill the bigger pots. # 1 & #2 cultivars, 9” max, 8” could be used. #3s, 8” max.

Feeding and pest management

· After 3 weeks in final pot start summer feeding program.
1 to 2 tsp. 20-10-20 per gallon water, once a week.

Note: Some plants will thrive with the heavier solution, while others may not like so much fertilizer. Watch the leaves to gauge the fertilizer needed. If leaves become hard and curl up you are overfeeding. If leaves are somewhat weak and lighter green then more fertilizer would help.

· If plants are yellowish, first try drying them out. If drying the plant is unsuccessful, feed ½ tsp. Epsom Salts per plant. Leaf feeding of liquid iron such as Greenall or Sequesterine also helps green up the plant. Follow product directions. Do not over feed Liquid Iron.

· Review your pest management program every 2 weeks,
Marathon systemic is the most effective black aphid control.
Diazinon and most rose insecticides are somewhat less effective, and require spraying every 2 weeks, as they are contact insecticides. Spray every two weeks with a fungicide. Ortho Funginex or Daconil is recommended. Other fungicides will work well if used regularly. If fungus gets away and is growing fast, a fungicide used to control early blight in tomatoes will really shut it down.

4. Lateral Control

As side laterals develop after the final pinch, select the number of laterals to carry through the summer and remove all other side shoots. Generally the topmost lateral below the stem break is removed, as it is the weakest lateral structurally and easily broken off by accident. At this early stage you should carry 1-2 more lateral than you want at the bloom stage. An old saying goes: “I grow 2 for me and one for the bug.”

Surplus laterals are removed later in the summer using the following guide.
For #1 & #2 cultivars, carry 2 or 3 laterals initially, cull to 1 or 2 in Aug.
For #3 cultivars, carry 5 laterals and cull Sept. or Oct.
For #4 & b#5 cultivars, carry 4 to 5 laterals and cull to 2 to 3 in Sept.
For Earliers (13-15 and 23-25) carry 4-5 laterals and cull to 2-3 in Sept.
For Spiders, Quills, Spoons, Singles etc. follow the guide for #4 and #5.
Note: Cutting back to the few laterals seems to be a most difficult task for the novice. You must do it however if you wish to get large blooms.

5. Staking.

By now all plants will require staking. A 16-24 in. stake should be placed along the main plant stem and tied to it to support and protect the plant. As the side laterals develop it will be necessary to add longer stakes that can support each lateral all the way to bud development. Care must be exercised so as to not spread the new laterals too far apart when staking, as one or more could be broken off. In other words let the laterals grow till they can be easily tied to the new stakes.

Note on staking: Many of you use Bamboo stakes to support the stem in early stages. These stakes are round and tend to rotate in wind, movement etc. Leaving a sizable hole at the top. Don Stark seriously recommends using rectangular (wooden) stakes as these tend to hold their original position and not open up a hole.

April 2019 Cultural Notes & To Do List

Here are some notes from our April 2014 meeting about soils and fertilizers by Chris Brookes:

Soil mixes: At the March 2014 meeting I talked about the importance of increasing AIR near the roots and the possibility of adding more Pumice to the soil mix. I grow in a 60% – 40% mix of M & R Soilless and Harvest Supreme Compost. Looking back through all of the cultural notes I see Don has the same mix but has also been adding 1-2 parts more of pumice. I guess I don’t always listen well enough, as Don’s mix is spot on in terms of creating a better soil mix capable of holding more AIR. I’m finally on the same soil track as Don this year.

Next it’s fertilizers where I often seem to have more questions than answers. e.g. If we are using the right fertilizer amounts, why were over 50% of blooms exhibited by some experienced growers fully or partially blown last Fall? ECA has made a several major changes in soil mixes over the last 40 years. I joined the club at a time when we grew almost entirely in M & R mix which has a very fast release of fertilizer. Today’s recommended mix of composts, and M & R soilless has a very much slower release soil. Yet as far as I can tell we still have the same fertilizer recommendations that were developed by Jim Ball and his Brother in Law for soilless mixes in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. Can this be right? FOOD for Thought!!

APRIL TO DO LIST (edited from DRS 3-21-05)

1. Potting on mums into 4” or 6” pots
· Soilless growers who are using the club recommended M&R mix. This mix is ph balanced at 6.5 and contains a good mix of fertilizers that carry the plant for 3-4 weeks. It requires no additives at this time, but some growers like to add a little Alfalfa meal and some additional pumice for increased aeration.
· Soil or compost mixes: See McGlashen mix in the McGlashen Hand Book. You’ll need to mix your own soil, consisting of compost, or garden loam plus slacked Lime or Dolomite to keep soil sweet plus Steamed Bone to promote root growth. Also, ashes and a little Rose and garden fertilizer (i.e. 4-10-8 or 5-10-10) Pumice or grit may be added to loosen the soil mix.
· Wash previously used pots in a mild Clorox bath (bleach), then rinse in clear water.
· Clay pots are recommended for 4 or 6 inch potting as they breathe and dry out faster during cool April days.
· Pot on when a significant ring of roots forms around the bottom edge of the pot (semi root bound). Do not compact the potting mix. Tie plants to small stakes.
2. Move mum pots outdoors as weather warms. Choose a sunny location.
· Bury pots to rim if using clay. Protect from frost, wind, dogs, cats and Children.
3. Review stopping dates. Most ECA cultivars are stopped Between April 15 and May 30.
· Pinch date lists for most club cultivars are on our website CULTIVARS OF ECA. Please let Steve B know if you need a copy at the April 14th meeting. Contact your Coach for other cultivars not on the list.


· Control Aphids. Spray for Aphids every 2 or 3 weeks, with liquid Diazinon, or other insecticides. Water only as needed, do not over water.
· Continue culling process in April to get to your final growing group. The 6” potting should be used for this reduction. Don’t always keep the first plants to reach 6” potting stage. Keep the best cultivars. Share surplus plants with other club members. Throw away damaged or diseased plants.

Fertilize weekly starting the 3rd or 4th week after potting. And the Club Early Fertilizer. Water soluble 10-50-10 Peter’s upper blossom booster is also a good substitute.

(Please note the change in recommendation for starter fertilizer. In 2009, Don Stark indicated that water-soluble 10-50-10, Peters Super Blossom Booster plant food, is available at local garden stores or McLendons Hardware in 1.5-pound bags. The application directions indicate 1 tsp per gallon of water for indoor use. Use this fertilizer as a supplement through the 6” pot stage. Don noted that Peters 20-10-20 will be available for use through the summer growth season.)

Lastly, I would like to suggest a discussion of 2″ square pots we use for NEW plants. Some prefer the pots with the + bands on the bottom – about 50% open. Others seem to favor the pots with the small holes in the corners. What are the benefits of each & why?

March 2019 Cultural Notes & To Do List

MARCH TO DO LIST (edited from DRS 2-21-05)

1. Clean pots and gather materials for potting:
· For soilless growers, supplies include soilless mix, Peters 9-45-15 fertilizer, and optionally, ¼ inch screened pumice, perlite or grit. Most of our growers use the M & R Soilless potting mix sold by the club. Addition of the pumice perlite or grit is not necessary for this stage. Generally the pumice etc. is added for the 9-inch potting. Some also add the pumice to the mixture for the 6-inch potting.
· For McGlashen soil mixes, you will need good garden loam; pumice, perlite or grit; and leaf mold or course greenhouse peat, plus well composted manure, steamed bone meal, slacked or hydrated lime and a good dry rose fertilizer such as 4-10-8. See your copy of the McGlashen book for details.

2. Pot mums into 4 or 6-inch pot:
· Clay pots are recommended when possible for the 4 or 6 inch potting as these pots breathe and dry out faster during cool March and April days.
· Wash used pots in a bleach/water solution, i.e. 2 teaspoons per gallon of water. Then rinse in fresh water. Let the cleaned pots set in the clear water for 3 or 4 minutes to clear out the bleach. Change the rinse water occasionally to clear out the bleach from previous rinses.
· Pot on when the ring of roots around the bottom of the pot is substantial. Do not compact the mix and leave room at the top for watering.

3. Move pots outdoors:
· After mums have become well established in the new pots (1-2 weeks) move mums outdoors or to cold frame to slow the foliage growth and toughen up the plants. The desirable ambient temperature is 50 to 60 degrees.
· To keep roots warm and at a stable temp, bury the pots in the soil or in a layer of compost or manure. Six inches is a good depth for the compost or manure. A cold frame is the best solution for this stage!
· Lacking a good sunny location, B-9 is a growth retardant spray mix that tends to help plants from getting too leggy. It is available through the club.

4. Stopping Dates:
· Review stopping dates and stop mums as their stopping dates arrive. Very few varieties require pinching in March unless a double pinching regimen is being followed (Phil Houghton March 15 and May 15 for example).
· Refer to the various ECA lists of stopping dates. Copies of a stopping date list are available on our website.

5. Keep growing vigorously:
· Water as needed, but keep relatively dry
· Spray or control aphids
· Fertilize soil less plants with 9-45-15 starting the 2nd or 3rd week after potting. Use fertilizer at ½ strength that is approximately ½ teaspoon/gallon.
Begin culling process in March to get to the final growing group. Send surplus
quality plants to plant sales or share with other ECA members. Throw away poor
plants and damaged or diseased plants.

February 2019 Cultural Notes and To Do List

PLANT CULTURE – Continue to start plants for our public sale in April. Plants must be given protection for the first few months and carefully nurtured to establish strong root systems before potting or repotting. In February, take starts for the early blooming varieties. At this month’s meeting, the focus is growing plants, cultivar selection, materials and your reference books. Cultural recommendations are attached.


Continue with cuttings:

Continue taking cuttings throughout Feb. and into March for some. A few early Feb. cuttings can be available for the March/April Plant sales (March Members sale at the March meeting and the public plant sale on Sat. April 11th). Most Feb. and March cuttings should be of the early English and American varieties. Late Decoratives, Classes 4, 5, 14 and 15) should be started primarily in Feb. Take cuttings for yourself and for the plant sale.

Most varieties in classes 1,2 and 3 should have been started by the end of January: however here are some varieties that can be successfully grown from Feb. cuttings. #1 & #2’s Lundy, Yellow Lundy, David Dando, Ralph Lambert, Yellow Ralph Lambert, Athabaska, Harry Gee, Jane Sharpe and Seychelles. #3’s Len Hall, Salmon, Primrose and yellow Fairweathers, Stockton and Heather James.

Cuttings started directly in the cutting bed media should not require fertilization before potting on. If you are starting in the cross bottom bands or 2” clay pots, fertilizer should be added after 3 to 4 weeks as these cutting generally require 5-6 weeks before potting on. Start fertilizing once a week beginning with the 4th week. Use an early Mum fertilizer, Peters 9-45-15 or Plant Marvel 12-45-10 (One Tsp/Gal once a week)

Potting on:

Most growers are using the soilless M&R potting mix sold by the club. In general no additives are required for the early pottings (2” and 4” pots); however some growers like to add some special ingredients. For instance Alfalfa meal or pellets is a good stimulant that can be added. Avoid adding Bone meal, as you will probably find fungi growing on the top of your pots due to too much potassium.
– Pot the mums directly from the cutting beds into 2” pots, or from the starter bands or pots into 3” or 4” pots.
– Use new pots, or wash previously used pots with a mild bleach solution (Clorox) to kill moss and eliminate the viruses. When bleach is used thoroughly rinse pots in fresh water to get the bleach out of the pot.
– Clay pots are recommended for the 2”, 3”, 4” and 6” potttings as the clay pots will dry out better than plastic after watering. This is especially important during the cool March and April days.

– Pot on from cutting beds when the roots are ½ to ¾ in. long (Typically 4 weeks) into 2 ½” or 3” pots.

– Pot on from cross bottom bands, or pots when roots are growing thickly out of the pots or bands (Typically 6 weeks). Do not compact the mix!

– Place the newly potted mums out of the light or under the bench for 2-3 days to stimulate root growth.


– Shelter mums in the greenhouse, cold frame, or other shelter (Kitchen table or south facing window)
– Temperature should be between 50 and 60 degrees.
– Glass overhead will help keep mums from getting leggy.
– B-9 is a good growth retardant that tends to help plants from getting too leggy. It is available through the club. If you choose to use B-9 it should be applied at the time of potting on and again at or near pinch time. Caution: Do not use B-9 on plants that tend to naturally grow short: i.e. all the Fairweathers, all the Alexis, Port Stanley and others.
– Plants will remain in this first potting for 4-6 weeks until they have produced a noticeable root ring around the bottom of the pot. Don’t be afraid to knock the root ball out of the pot after several weeks and examine the roots.
– Fertilize with 9-45-15, or 12-45-10 beginning the 4th week
(1 Tsp/Gal once a week) These fertilizers are available through the
Club at the monthly meetings.

LASTLY, here are some notes from the Ivor Mace Presentation on NOvember 29th, 2014 by Don Stark:
Follow up from Ivor Mace’s presentation 0f 11/29/2014
We had a very enjoyable and informative evening with Ivor Mace on Sat. 29 Nov. The following notes highlight the most important things I gleaned from his presentation; covering growing facilities, Growing media, feeding , finishing and Timing
1. Ivor does most or all his growing in a large 36’x20′ green house. it contains air conditioning, heating, ventilation and sun shading provisions; So he is has total control of his environment from start to finish. Most of us do not grow in such a controlled environment.
2. Growing Media: Ivor grows in a soil based media, that contains good clay loam, plus Peat moss, grit
and other additives. This compares to our soilless standard of M&R Mix (mostly Peat moss) Compost
and pumice. The grit is like our pumice inert material to improve drainage. No nutritional value.

Ivor Mace
Loam (Soil)
Peat Moss

Clay pots
3″-6″-9″ progr.
Don Stark

M&R Mix (Mostly Peat)
Clay pots

3. Feeding: Ivor uses strictly dry (Granular) feed in proportions of approximately 3-12- 8 We use liquid feed in proportions of 20-9-20 and others .Overall, That’s about the same level of feed .
4. Finishing: Ivor finishes everything in his green house with its controlled temp. heating, and shading from direct sun as appropriate. Waters sparingly and only those that need watering, Discontinues feeding at bud stage and does not to feed again through bloom stage.
5 Timing. For his Large exhibition mums Ivor grows 2 laterals per plant and tries to get the second lateral a little later than the first. Then later during the terminal stages he will decide which to carry to final bloom at show time. Additionally he grows a second plant as above but stopped a week or two later so that this second plant will produce blooms at a slightly later date. Note, Ivor then waits till Sept and tries to judge which bloom on each pot is most likely to reach perfection at show time. He then selects the most promising lateral from each plant and lops off the second lateral: hence he is carrying only one bloom per plant at terminal phase (as he advertizes). I, stark almost never cut back to 1 bloom per plant.
From all the above, Here’s a few things I’m thinking of for next year.
A-I’ll change my final 9′ mix to include top soil (loam). It’s going to be difficult to find good loam. My new mix will probably look something like this: -M&R Mix ( 4 parts) – Topsoil (3 parts )-Pumice(2 parts)- Compost( 2 parts) – Horse Manure 1/2 part, plus Hydrated lime ad bone meal to fortify the soil portion.
-The reason for adding top soil: To get a continuous and reliable source of nutrients and trace elements that will carry me through the March/April doldrums and through the final finishing weeks. I’ve had problems with plants stalling out in the final stages. Ivor Reports he almost never has to feed during the finishing stage.
B. I’m going back to some granular feeding instead of liquid feed during the March/April doldrums . and possibly for the finishing stages. This will help me get through the March/April doldrums where the pots seem to never dry out and I don’t want to water them just to get them some feed. It could also provide a longer lasting residual source of nutrients during the bloom finishing cycle. This may Also help get the incurves out in time and with a much smoother outline.
C. I’m going to try to adapt his timing ideas. I generally try to grow large and mediums with 2 terminals per pot and 2 pots of each cultivar; so maybe I can manipulate the plants to give me 2 good blooms out of the 4 laterals.
D. If I can find a cheap source of 3 1/2″ clay pots I may change my progression from 2-4-6-9″ to 3″-6″-9″ pots. It would make it easier to get to 9″ pots by early May.
Incidentally Ivor showed us root structure at time of potting on and It was much more heavily rooted than what most of you are accustomed to using. (roots extending 20% up the sides)
DRS 1/05/2015

January 2019 Cultural Notes

Editor’s Notes: Please also re-read December Cultural notes for some stool care techniques.

Special Cultural Notes:
Ron Elliot emphasized the necessity for protecting last year’s stools from frost–Keep stools protected, covered from rain, and sheltered from frost and Ice. One or two frosts in a row, the stools will probably survive; but a 3rd frost might likely kill many of the stools. Protecting from rain is necessary to keep your stools relative dry so they can experience a semi dormant period. If stools are wet you run much greater risk of killing frosts as new shoots will be growing and as such are much more susceptible to freezing weather. Also If the pots you have the stools in are wet a hard frost will often break your pots in half due to expansion of the wet media when it freezes.
The stools can be kept in this semi dormant period until 20-30 days before you wish to take cuttings. To wake them up feed moderately with a high nitrogen fertilizer such as Miracle Gro. to urge the new shoots on.
Ron also talked about cutting beds and the surrounding environment. He reported what he uses which are in a heated green house, keeping the soil temp. at 65-70 degrees etc. and using overhead fluorescent lights. Stark emphasized that the beginner and many older members don’t need to go to extensive lengths with the cutting beds and that all you really is a heated box with a medium of sand and Pete moss , protected from the surrounding medium and with sufficient light, whether it be from fluorescent lights, a sunny window or a semi clear roof.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program:
January 2017 Cultural Notes drs 1-16-2016
To Do LIST -January
1. get your stools growing and producing shoots for cuttings.
You should have several already producing good shoots for January cuttings
2. Clean up your cutting beds, check temperature sensors overhead lights etc.
See Dec. 2013 news letter for details.
3. Lay out your growing plans for the year- What verities and how many you plan
to grow. I like to break it down to 3 or four sections i.e.
-Large and Mediums (#1s & #2s)
-Incurves (#3s & #13s )
-Late Decoratives & Fantasies
-Early English and Garden Varieties and
-Any special categories you may be growing
4.Plan your pinch dates and starting dates
5. Start the cuttings per your plan; refer to previous notices or your he ECA
Novice Handbook
6 collect material you will need when transferring cuttings to next stage;
i.e. 21/2 inch cross bottom cubes– M&R mix, or other soilless growing mix
plant labels, B-9 stem growth retardant etc.
Cultural notes
1. Taking cuttings:
The club now follows either of two basic starting media/methods for starting the cuttings:
-the first method employs the old standard cutting bed where cuttings are placed in rows
in the starting media. separated as chosen by the grower. The basic cutting bed material
being peat moss and sand or our standard growing M&R mix. , or sometimes starting
directly in 2 1/2 inch cross bottom cubes. Recently, I (Stark) have changed my basic
starting media to 60% ProEarth#2 and 40 % Green Mountain sharp white sand. The sharp
white sand helps produce many more roots as the sharp edges penetrate the cambian layer
and new roots develop where the layer was broken.
The alternative cutting method employed by several uses “Earth Pots”. A few years ago
Chris Brookes picked up on this method used by Ray Gray of Kings Mums in his large scale
commercial business. The Earth pots come in trays of 72 starting modules containing the
required soilless ingredients. The cuttings are inserted directly into each module. A cutting
bed not required per se; but you still, but you still need to provide controlled under the pot
heat, overhead protection (Covers), overhead lighting and frequent overhead spraying.
The Earth pots come in trays of 72 pots. Mark Ross is the focal point for ordering the Earth
pots and you need to order them a month in advance.
Both methods have shown to produce excellent rooted cuttings, The Earth Pots are liked by
several grows because they allow a denser starting flat (72 starts per flat.
Downsides include additional costs and the need for frequent spraying.
The cutting bed seems to have an advantage with the white Sand enabling more roots per
cutting and the ability to get a good look at the roots when they are taken from the bed.
Of course the starting media or the under flat temperature must be controlled (65-69 DEG) by
heating heating elements such as heat pads, heat coils, heated room etc.

2. Starting dates:
There is always varying opinion for different starting dates. let’s try to put some logic into the Question. First we must recognize that different varieties require different starting dates to provide the best chance of getting a full flowered bloom read for our show date.
It has always been my position that for most of the year we must concentrate primarily on root development. In line with that position I generally recommend that we get our final potting, (8″ or 9″ pots) completed by the first to the fifteenth of June. This allows sufficient time to develop strong fully root bound roots by the time we expect the buds to appear. A basic tenant for pot grown plants is that the plants seldom bud out until they become root bound. if you are still potting-on into July you don’t have sufficient time to develop roots before you need buds o appear. The result is often late and anemic blooms. pushing them along with additional fertilizer can’t really save them. This concept is mostly independent of the planned stopping dates.
All that having been said there is still a lot of latitude in selecting your starting dates; including tardiness in getting your stools growing early enough to take healthy cuttings . You each will have to decide when to take your cuttings. To give you some Ideas I’ve listed my generalized starting dates. maybe they will be helpful, but keep in mind there are different growing facilities and climates so these might not all fit your needs. Hopefully it’s a start.
– Late Dec & early to mid January, Mount Rainer, Elsie Prosser James Bryant, Keith
Luxford, All Fairweathers, Most Fantasies (Spiders, quills and spoons). King George, plus
anything you plan to grow for specimen plants (10 or more blooms).
-Late Jan. Connie Mathew, Seychelles, Dukes, Jessie Habgood
– February, Lundys, Harry Gees (all), Jane Sharpe, Ralph Lamberts, Athabasca,
-Late Feb. to early march, Lots of #4s & #5s plus garden varieties.
To some extent, we as a club may have been starting many varieties earlier than necessary. Many of us have started fairly early because of usual April blahs where our plants tend to stall out and we barely get our plants into the final pots by early June. Many have overshot the desired potting-on dates resorted to using 8″ pots for the final potting in order to get the root system more quickly semi root bound. That works to some extent, but keep in mind that we are trying to attain exceptional flowers and the smaller pot with less roots significantly limits the potential of the final blooms
Most of the above relates to the Exhibition class mums; Sections 1 through 15.
-Early English classes , sections 23 through 25 and to some extent classes 13 through 15 are a different story entirely as they have been cultivated and developed mainly for growing in the open garden, not in pots. They tend to bud more quickly and flower earlier than the other varieties. Further, their budding dates are not usually affected by the need for roots to become semi root bound. Most garden varieties fall into this same category.
One final note regarding cuttings. We need healthy strong growing shoots for the cuttings in all cases. It is better to delay starts to get a healthier cuttings than to take earlier week cuttings. Another observation is that the shoots tend to be growing faster in February and on.
3. Use of B-Nine to control plant Height.
We have been recommending B-Nine to control the height of our plants. In general it is recommended the first application be made when potting on from the cutting bed. This works quite wee in most cases, but there several varieties that are generally quite short, and B-Nine is not beneficial as they could be so limited in height one could not produce a significantly long stem. To name a few here’s a list of those cultivars where B-Nine should not be used.
-All Fairweathers, -Alexis -West Bromwich King George -And all shorties.

December 2018 Cultural Notes

Ed note: So how did your mums do this past year?  This is a great time to review 2018 and make plans for 2019.  What cultivars did you like or not like?  Did they stall?  Too Hot?  Too cold?  Talk to your coach or bring your questions to the December meeting.

-Cultural Notes for December- drs, 12/06/2013
Success for the following year begins with the care of our stock to produce the quality cuttings for next year. The Nov. Newsletter outlined the basic approach for care of our stock after blooming and emphasized special procedures for preventing further propagation of “White Rust” as well as getting the stools ready for talking cuttings in 2014.
Now we must build on that in several ways as follows: 1) Continued care of stools through dormant period. 2) Breaking out of the dormant period and producing cuttings, and 3) Taking early cuttings. Also we’ll provide some helpful note s along the way.
+Continue White Rust program from the November. Newsletter. i.e. spraying dormant stools 3 times between mid November and early January with Eagle or Immunox Fungicides, supplemented by Daconil in some instances. We will have more Eagle fungicide to distribute at the Dec. meeting. (ED Note:  Did anyone have White Rust issues this past year?)
+Prepare your stools for Next year’s cuttings :
– Keep the stools outside, protected from cold, wind , rain and slugs. It is important for the plant to chill and remain dry and dormant until 2-4 weeks prior to taking cuttings. This chilling period will produce much stronger cuttings for the next growing cycle. Most plants can withstand one or two nights of freezing, down to 28 deg. but 3 or more consecutive nights freezing will probably kill all but the hardiest of your mums. During severe colder snaps, a garage, greenhouse, shed or tarp can be used temporarily to protect your plants until the cold snap subsides.
-Two to four weeks before the desired cutting- time, bring the stools into a heated area (60 deg. for example) and feed with a dose of high Nitrogen fertilizer such as Miracle grow to stimulate new growth.
For me this translates to moving in and heating the old stools to mid Dec. as I will be starting with new cuttings in mid to late January.
+Clean up and re-fill your cutting beds:
Every 3-4 years it is good practice to clean out your old cutting beds, Spray all the structure and mats with a fungicide and refill with fresh new cutting media. Since we are on a kick this year to eradicate White rust this would be a good time to do the complete refreshing of your beds. Even If you are now starting directly in 2 ½ in cross bottom pots, or other newer pellets You are probably placing the new potted cuttings on top of your old cutting bed so it’s still necessary to clean it up.
I now recommend a starting bed media of 50% Green Mountain sharp white sand and 50% Pro-Earth #2 starting mix. The Green Mountain sand comes from crushed stone and has sharp edges and corners. The sharp edges tend to penetrate the cambium layer along the imbedded stem, which promotes development of many more roots on the cutting. The Pro Earth medium is a bit finer than the M&R mix, contains more basic fertilizer combined with some longer term slow- release fertilizer, and a basic dose of trace elements. I’ll try to have some M&R mix and a bag of Pro Earth #2 at the Dec. meeting.

+Some Old Basics:
-Cutting beds need heat cables or pads and means to hold the Temp. between 65 deg and 69 deg F.
-Some rigid foam insulation under the cutting cables or pads will help maintain the heat.
-The cutting media should be approximately 3” deep.
-Cutting bed size should be selected so that the bed can accommodate one or more of the standard trays of 11”x22”. Mats generally will come in sizes that approximate multiples of the tray size.
-An overhead fluorescent light Is generally required. A 2 bulb 4ft shop light works well. You can buy special gro-lux or plant-gro bulbs but they are relatively expensive and plain old white light bulbs are still very effective.

If you want help designing or building a cutting bed, talk to Ronnie or Mark.

Don Stark’s top Dozen List for 2013
Based on cultivars that have produced well in the last 3 years, here’s my top list of cultivars for classes 1 through 15. All are grown by ECA members and can mostly be found at the plant sales.
1. Connie Mayhew- A creamy yellow #5 or #2 that everyone should grow. It has won, Best Bloom -Open Classes (Ron Elliott, 2011), Best#2, Best vase of 5-(Mike Kubo) etc. It’s been a staple in the club for more than 40 years.
2. Lundy & Yellow Lundy – Now the class of the #2s. They are big long lasting reflex blooms and you’ll love the yellow and brilliant white. Steve Joyner’s Lundy was best in show in 2012.
3. Seychelles-A dark pink #2 Reflex that is big, has great form and likes lots of fertilizer. A must have for the Medium Challenge. Don Stark won best in show with it in 2008.
4. Alexis & Apricot Alexis-Varieties you’ll love to grow. A staple in the Decorative Challenge.
5. Gigantics are back again! Big in the #1 class, with new stock from England. Regular winners.
6. Fairweather Family-The best group of #3s in our collection. Fills up the Incurved Challenge, wins best Incurve, best vase of 3 regularly. Colors: Pink, White, Primrose, Peach, White and Salmon
7. Harry Gee Family- The Gees are back with some great new stock from England. Chris Brookes won Best in show with Amber H. Gee in 2011. It,s a medium to large #1 reflex with nice smooth form. Perhaps the easiest #1 to grow and blooms early enough to always be available for the show.
8. Vienna Waltz- Spider (#10 PU) Long time, one of the best spiders in the club. If you want to grow Frilly-Dillys you should have this one. Easy to grow, somewhat heavy feeder and large strong blooms.
9. Lava- A new #10 Spoon, bronze/Yellow. Grows strong, puts out strikingly intense yellow to Bronze blooms with very long healthy petals. Bob Ewing Swamped the #10 classes with it a couple of years ago and Stark did the same in 2012. You will really like this one!
10. White City- #14 A white reflexing intermediate that grows very well for lots of us. Good for use in Late Dec. and/or Early English Challenges.
11. First Light- #6 Pink cushion, grows profusely in pot or garden and Puts out a plethora of of large perfectly formed cushion blooms. Centers tend to be perfectly domed and the Whitish florets are uniform and flat.
12. Lancashire Fold- Large perfect form #1 Purple. This one’s a little more difficult to grow but worth a try. It’s a moderate to light feeder and likes to be ignored. If you just keep it growing easily and resist the urge to push you just might win “Best in Show”. It is one of the most beautiful blooms we have.
DRS 11/29/2012

October 2018 Cultural Notes & To Do List


This month the focus is on finishing the blooms, preparing them for transport to the show and the grooming and presentation of the blooms for the show.

1. Care and feeding,
-Tie cedar support stakes under the blooms to keep the stems straight and the blooms upright. A cocked bloom will be severely discounted by the judges. Keep raising the support stake up against the bottom of the bloom to prevent or correct cocking.
-Water and feed plants sparingly at this time (October time frame). Feed with liquid fertilizer solution about 1 pint at each watering. See fertilizer recommendations below. It’s a good practice to make up a 30 gallon garbage can of the fertilizer solution and set this can out in the sunlight so that it will remain relatively warm. Then water/feed out of this barrel. Note: If you use fresh tap water instead, you will be watering/feeding with a water temperature below 50 deg. That sets back the plant each time you water. Water/feed sparingly, preferably around 5:00 pm. Some prefer to water early in the day, but if you do be sure to use the warm water from the barrel.
-The recommended dilution of the fertilizer is: ½ tsp of the standard 20-9-20 midseason fertilizer plus ¼ tsp Sulphate of Potash (0-0-50) per gallon of water. That’s essentially half the usual dilution of (20-9-20) you’ve been using for mid season plus the potash is added to harden off the stems and the petals.
-Sheltering your plants is crucial. Get the plants moved into some sort of shelter where the blooms are protected from rain, dew, wind and direct sunlight. It does not have to be a totally enclosed shelter but enclosed shelters prove to be of advantage in developing near perfect blooms. The blooms do not need direct sunlight but some filtered sunlight is desirable. I have pinned white sheets under clear roof panels. This filters the sun and additionally collects dew that collects on the panels at night. If you move your plants into enclosed spaces then you must also provide lots of cool dry ventilation to protect against petal rot. Multiple fans blowing gently across the blooms is the usual solution. It’s generally desirable to keep the daytime temperatures below 75 deg and the night time temperatures above 50 deg during this final bloom phase.
If you move your plants into area where the sunlight is poor or non existent, then you will need considerable supplemental light as discussed in the Sept. To Do list.
-Watch for Aphids and other insects. The Marathon systemic insecticide you added in June or July should protect you very well from Aphids; but it does not catch all insects and bugs, and if you didn’t use it or used a diluted application then it’s possible you could find aphids and other insects such as earwigs in your blooms. Earwigs have to be handpicked from the blooms and other such bugs must be caught with a watchful eye before they severely damage the bloom. If the blooms are dry and out of the sunlight it is possible to spray the bloom with a very fine solution of liquid insecticide such as diazinon or other mild insecticides. Generally you will need to spray every 4-5 days apart for 3 or 4 applications. This could in some cases destroy your blooms; but then so would the Aphids. If aphids are in the blooms at the show it will be downgraded, or if badly infested the bloom will be removed from the show.
You need to keep your blooms clean during the bloom development so when damaged petals or rot marred petals are found you should remove them so as not to propagate the problem. Generally speaking you can, with dry fingers, take hold of the petal end and gradually pull and swirl the petal around. This will generally loosen the root and the petal will come out. Sometimes you need to use tweezers to get the petal. Homemade wooden tweezers are preferred.

2. Getting ready for the show:
-As show time approaches you may be able to speed up bloom development with supplemental heat; i.e. electric heaters in the finishing areas. Again the suggested minimum heat in the area is 50 deg. But with supplemental heat you might approach 60 deg. minimum. Also some varieties don’t particularly like too much heat. An old adage generalizes this: Reflexes like light, Incurves like heat, so it takes a lot of judgment and experimenting to tinker with the climate you have.
Likewise if a bloom is developing too early it may be possible to slow the development by placing the plant in a cooler darker area; i.e. a basement. Of course not all varieties respond well to that treatment either and in some cases you might end up stalling the plant out completely.
-Cutting the blooms for the show: Water the plants the night before cutting- start cutting early in the morning. That’s when the stem cells contain the most water
-Cut the stem approximately 20 inches below the bottom of the bud, keeping the bloom support stake attached to the stem. -Cut at a slant and immediately put the stem in a bucket of water. (Lower leaves on the stem should have been removed leaving 3- 5 leaves at the base of the bloom). Then recut the stem approximately 1 inch above the previous cut while under water. This removes air bubbles that cling to the end of the stem and impede water uptake. Let the cut stem remain in the water for a few seconds, and then remove to a vase or water bucket for transportation to the show.
-I cut the incurves 3-4 days before judging day. The centers will develop much faster in a vase or bucket of mildly warm water (100 deg for example) than they will on the plant. Most others I cut 1-2 days before judging. Following these procedures the cut bloom will hold up well for 1-2 weeks. The key is the second cutting under water.
-When you do the final arrangement of your bloom(s) you should make the final cut. Our show rules state that cutting most blooms 16 inches below the bud bottom is desired (That’s the length of the support stake you cut from 16 inch shingles. However the rules allow for up to 18 inch stems and supports for the very large blooms so that the lower petals don’t reach the vase. This also helps where the upper leaves are far below the bloom base and sometimes get shoved into the top of the vase.
Where multiple blooms are required in entry, you should work at cutting the stems slightly below the support so that the stems can be individually trimmed to present the top of each bloom at the same height. Please don’t get carried away and cut your blooms higher, making them more noticeable than comparable entries. The Judges can penalize you for such practices.
-In multiple bloom entries of 3 or 5 blooms per vase, variations to the same height rule are allowed/ preferred such that the back blooms are somewhat higher than the forward blooms.

Good luck! and come to the October meeting to get your materials, exchange ideas and ask questions.
Drs 9/24/2013

September 2018 Cultural Notes & To Do List

Editor’s Note:
You have slaved over these plants for more than half a year, now – please pay close attention to Don et al’s notes below for best results.

Once the buds have broken the membrane and some petal tips are showing it’s imperative to get the pots into or under some kind of shelter where they will remain through the final bloom is developed. The basic idea is to protect the blooms from rain or dew, provide adequate temperature control and ventilation. The watering and fertilization program must also be modified to assure proper bloom development, and lastly we need to continue with pest management and fungus control throughout the bloom development.
Sheltering of your plants is necessary throughout the bloom cycle. Shelters come in a variety of sizes, names and shapes including porches, Large overhanging eaves, garages, car ports, green houses or temporary wood /plastic structures. Basic requirements are Shelter from rain, dew, & Winds; adequate daytime light (though it can be shady), or light supplements, temperature control, and ventilation.
Maximum temperature should be kept below 80 Deg. If possible. Above that temp. the probability of bloom damage due to petal rot is high. If the shelter is exposed directly to the sun in early Sept. days the temperature within can skyrocket. Big fans can be used to increase ventilation and keep the temperature down. The fans also hopefully can bring in air from the shady side of the shelter to cool the overall area as well. Lining the inside of the shelter roof with old sheets or muslin will also reduce the heating and filter the sunlight. In general I like to keep the temperature between 50 deg and 70 deg. F for most of the finishing, but for the last few weeks of October, letting the nighttime temperatures dip into the 40s will probably accelerate your bloom development. If your temperatures dip into the 30s you will probably get pinking on the edges of some blooms. You can contact Don Stark or Chris Brookes to discuss your specific shelter questions or ideas.
Considerably less light will be required during the bloom cycle, but never the less it is necessary to provide supplemental light in most cases where you have sheltered the plants. If you are finishing in a green house or similar structure, It will probably be necessary to add light filtration in the ceilings as the opening blooms generally can not accept full sunlight through clear plastic or glass. You can purchase black screen like materials to put over your roofs to reduce the amount of sunlight. Alternatively, I have pinned old white sheets across the ceiling to filter the light. This works very well and at the same time the sheets tend to absorb the early morning dew that tends to collect in the cool mornings.
Getting back to light supplements, the most common and functional method is hanging 4’ or 8’ Fluorescent light fixtures in the ceiling. Plain white light lights work or if you choose you can buy
Gro- lights which are reputed to be better. Don’t buy “Grow-Lux” lights unless you are very rich as they are a specific brand name light and very costly. You can run the lights all day, 8-10 hours, during the day or all night if you so chose. I prefer just the time during daylight hours. Another clue that might help is an old adage –In general reflexing varieties like it light and cool while Incurves usually like it warmer and and less light” I use that adage to help me decide where I want to house each plant since I Use more than just 1 housing unit.
Bringing the plants into cover
Around Labor day, when the buds are starting to break the membrane, bring them in. Wash the pots thoroughly around the bottom to get rid of the crud moss and residue that have formed in your growing area. Clip off all excess roots that are hanging out the drain holes and pick off all old and damaged leaves, mostly around the bottom of the plant, that harbor pests and fungi.
Spray the plant with both a good fungicide and insecticide, taking care not to get any of the spray on the blooms. Watch for and destroy Earwigs, worms, caterpillars etc. They can wreck blooms when they get on or inside.
Top-dress the pots for one last time. Add about ½ to ¾ in. of your 9” mix or some compost to the pot surface and level it. Top-Dressing the plants helps finishing the plants now and also promotes new growth for next year’s cuttings. Now’s the time to cut off (not tear out) all new basil shoots that are developing, If your pot exhibited significant moss growth , add ½ tsp of Hydrated lime to the top dress mix to help sweeten the soil.
Optionally for colored blooms, not white or yellow, you may add ¼ tsp of Ferrous sulfate (Fe2 So4 ) to enhance the color. In particular The Athabasca needs this Fe2,So4 to show a significant ring of pink tips on its blossom. Pinks in general look more intense if we feed it.
Additionally, if you have not started feeding potash in your fertilizer formula (see Aug. Newsletter) then add ¼ to ½ tspn Sulphate of potash to the top mix to harden off the plant and keep the bloom petals from being too soft.
Staking and bud support:
Now’s time to start cutting back to your final selection of laterals, Stake the securely and start getting the support shingles attached to the stem and the support stake. Stake and tie up all selected laterals and add support shingles under the blooms. Keep moving the support shingle up under the bloom as the neck stretches. Use support shingle to straighten the neck and keep the bloom flat atop the stem
Finally, remove all side laterals as they appear on the selected stems below the bloom so that the bloom is all that is left.
Fertilizing and Watering:
For the bloom cycle, we reduce the fertilizer to ½ strength immediately after taking the bud and at the same time switch to a different fertilizer formulation that is higher in Potash content as discussed in the August news letter. Basically we mix ½ tsp of our basic 20-9-20+ fertilizer with i/2 tsp with ¼ tsp of Sulphate of Potash per gallon of water. After the petals begin to drop it is safe to increase the strength of this solution gradually to up to 2 times or less of this formula to promote blossom growth. Note: It’s easy to overfeed the plant at this time, and produce ragged, cocked, or deformed blooms; so increase the fertilizer sparingly.
Watering is different at this stage also. Water more sparing using about 1pint per watering and do not water when the temperature is over 75 deg. Water /fertilize from a bucket using a 1-pint jar or similar small container. Do not use a hose and scatter water everywhere on the shelter floor. Keep the finishing area dry and clean.

August 2018 Meeting Notice & Newsletter

There WILL be an August meeting on Thursday August 9th in the small classroom at the Seattle Police Athletic Association Office (SPAA) site at 11030 East Marginal Way South, Tukwila.

I am sad to report that Mary Lou Ewing passed away July 14, 2018. Please keep Bob in your thoughts and prayers. They had moved to Village Green in Federal Way June first.

Here are the minutes from the July 12th meeting of ECA:
July 12, 2018 ECA meeting minutes

Present: Ron Elliott, Marc Ross, Steve & Sue Joyner, Rich and Jill Aldrich, Erika Harris, David
Rynes, Sydney Ogilvie, John Harden, Alva Nishimura, Janet Anderson

Cultural presentation: Great discussion on the following topics. Steve Joyner brought some plants in to demonstrate taking the bud and lateral control.

Potting on:
At this point all mums should be in their final growing pot. If you are not in the final growing pot by July consider leaving them in the 6 inch pot. You will likely get better blooms by keeping them root bound.

Stake up the individual laterals you wish to save so that they won’t accidentally break off in wind and rain. You will need stakes between 3 and 5 feet. Fasten the laterals to the stakes with 4-6 inch twist-ems. Take care to place the stakes vertically straight in the pot. The main lateral joint is a weak spot on the plant. Placing stakes at an angle will pull at this joint and possibly split the plant apart. Vertical staking better supports the weak joint.

Taking the bud:
From late July to late August the terminal buds will start to appear on your laterals followed by a ring of smaller laterals just below the main bud. Once the terminal bud is the size of a small pea the ring of laterals must be removed. This process is called “taking the bud”. you need to let the ring of buds develop to about 1/4 inch before removing them so you don’t damage the terminal bud. To remove these ring of laterals simply push them sideways with your thumb and they will easily break off. Do not pinch them off

Top Dressing:
Top dress pots in late July or early August and again when the buds show color (usually Sept 1 to 15). Spread 1 to 2 handfuls of your final potting mix on each pot. This gives the upper roots a better growing environment. This will also promote new growth from the root ball for next years’ plants.
When buds start to show color they should be brought under cover. At this point any moisture or dew will discolor or mildew the bloom

Lateral Control:
Continue to carry 1-2 more laterals than you want at bloom stage. Surplus laterals are removed later in the summer using the following guide: For #1 &#2 cultivars – carry 2 0r 3 laterals initially and cull to 1 or 2 in Aug.
For #3 cultivars – carry 5 laterals and cull in Sept or Oct For #4 & #5 cultivars – carry 4 to 5 laterals and cull in Sept. For earlies (13-15 and 23-25) carry 4 to 5 laterals and cull to 2 or 3 in Sept. For quills, spiders, spoons and singles follow the guide for #4 and #5 cultivars.

Fertilizing regimen:
Continue with mid-season fertilizing regimen (1 to 2 teaspoons of 20-10-20 fertilizer per gallon of water) until you start to see color on the bud. Watch leaves to gauge fertilizing. If leaves become hard or curled then you are overfeeding. If leaves are weak and light green then more fertilizer would help. If leaves are yellow try drying them out. If drying the plant doesn’t help then try feeding 1/2 teaspoon Epsom salts per plant or leaf feed with liquid iron. Do not over feed with liquid iron. John Harden reported that Yellow knight thrives of foliar feedings.

Pest Management:
Continue to review your pest management program every one to two weeks. You need to keep the plants free from black aphids, other bugs and fungal diseases especially before the blooms open. Use a systemic such as Marathon to control aphids. Monitor for other bugs such as leaf hoppers, earwigs, capsid bugs and leaf rollers. These bugs should be picked off the plants or they will invariably ruin the bud. A product called Seven when sprinkled around the roots can be effective in controlling earwigs.

Disease control:
Continue fungal control program through the summer and fall. Spray plants regularly with fungicide. Recommend Ortho Funginex or Diaconal.
Business Meeting minutes:

June Meeting minutes were approved by Steve Joyner and Erika Harris
Treasure’s report presented by Sydney Ogilvie
Checking: $2998.99
Savings: $4063.12
Cash $132.24
Total: 7194.35
Sydney is researching the use of the square to take credit card purchases at the plant sale. There are options to purchase or rent. She is reviewing the fine print to determine which option is best. Sydney presented a list of the April pant sale top sellers.

16 purple light 7 Billy Bell 3 Pot Black
15 Corngold 5 Quan 3 Purple Prince
15 Fairwether 4 Mount Rainier John Hughes
10 Lava 4 Heather James Crimson Glory
9 Cheasapeak 4 Lancaster Fold Morning Star
9 Pineapple 4 Patricia Grace

Multiple bloom vases for late decorative, early English and vases of 3 show entries
Discussion about vase size and color would like to order 4 dozen green vases with approx. 5 inch rim. contact Floral supply in Georgetown. Need to check bylaws to see if we can use oasis in show vases.

Steve Joyner to pick up Late season fertilizer at Stueber’s for next meeting.

Steve Joyner to bring shingle stakes for next meeting

Dates to remember:
Show location Volunteer Park Conservatory
Show dates: Nov 2nd noon to 4 pm; Sat and Sunday Nov 3rd and 4th 10 am to 4 pm
Plant deliveries to back green house: Wednesday, October 31st and Thursday Nov 1st between
10 am and 3 pm
Show set up: Thursday Nov 2nd between 4 pm and 6 pm
Judging: Friday, Nov 2nd between 9 am and noon
Show breakdown: Sunday, Nov 4th 4pm to 6 pm

Banquet date: Thursday Nov 15th at Angelo’s in Burien
6:30 no host bar, 7 pm dinner

Meeting adjourned at 8:25 pm

Please see July & August Cultural Notes and to Do List, although the discussion above pretty much nails it!!

July & August 2018 Cultural Notes & To Do List

July and August are the primary growing months for your mums. Topics of our concern and guidance during this time are: Lateral selection and control, Staking, Feeding, Pest Management, watering, Flushing your pots, Top Dressing, and Taking the buds for the final bloom selection .

1 Lateral Control:
As side laterals develop after the final pinch, select the number of laterals to carry through the summer
And remove all other side shoots. Generally the topmost lateral below the stem break is removed, as it is the weakest lateral structurally and easily broken off by accident. At this stage you should carry 1-2 more laterals than you want at bloom stage. An old saying goes “I grow one for the bug and two for me”.
Surplus laterals are removed later using the following guide. The
-For #1 & #2 cultivars carry 2 or 3 laterals initially, cull tot back to 1 or 2 in late Aug. after buds are secured
– For #3 cultivars carry 5 laterals initially and cull back to 3 or 4 in Sept. or Oct.
-For #4 & #5 cultivars carry 4 or 5 initially and cull to 2 04 3 in Sept.
-For Eearlys (#13-15, and 23-25) Cary 4-5 laterals initially and cull back in Sept. as appropriate.
-For Spiders, quills, spoons, singles etc. Follow the guide for #4s & #5s.)
2. Staking:
All the saved laterals should now be individually staked to prevent losing them to wind, rain, accidents etc. You will need stakes ranging from 3’ to 5’ depending on the normal height of the individual plants, with the majority being in the 4’ range. I make wooden stakes nominally 5/8”x 1/2” ripped from ½” or 5/8” fence boards. Others use Bamboo stakes or whatever. You should point the stakes so that when you push them into the pots they don’t tear away large sections of the roots. The stakes look better and wont rot easily if you paint or stain them green. Don’t use Pressure treated lumber! Also 4’ and 5’ heavy bamboo stakes seem to work somewhat well.
Start fastening the laterals to the stakes with 4-6 inch twistems when laterals are 1-2 foot long, being careful not to spread the laterals too soon as you can easily break of the laterals if you spread them too early.
3. Feeding & Top dressing:
Keep feeding! Keep feeding! The club sells Technigro 20-9-20+ water-soluble fertilizer at our meetings @ $3.00 per 1# bag. This is the recommended fertilizer for mid season growing-July & August. While other fertilizers may be your choice this balanced fertilizer has been our staple since we started growing in soilless. Miracle grow is not recommended as it generally contains too much Nitrogen and tends to produce much taller stems at the expense of stronger roots. However it works well on some plants such as specimen plants where much stronger nitrogen dosage is used to produce the many laterals i.e. 11 to 20 laterals.
-After 3 weeks in the final pot start the summer feeding program with Technigro
20-9-20+. Standard dosage for all is 1 tsp per gallon of water, fed once a week. If you feed with every watering you should cut the dosage to half that or less. It is common to gradually increase the dosage up to double that for heavy feeders i.e. Connies, Dukes, Jessies, Ralph Lambert, Gigantics, Harry Gees, Elsie Prosser etc. On the other side, most reds and Purples and most incurves require a lighter feeding level such as 2/3 tsp per Gal. Keep in mind that it is very easy to overfeed so be prudent. Watch and feel the leaves to gage the fertilizer needs. If leaves tend to be hard and curl up or the upper leaves turn over you are feeding too much.
-Some plants may tend to be yellowish instead of green (Jessie Habgoods, Dukes, Lundys and Connies) for instance. If you have yellow plants first try drying the plant out with less water. If unsuccessful feed ½ to 1 tsp Epsom Salts (Magnesium Sulphate) per plant. Leaf feeding with liquid Iron products such as Sequesterine or chelated Liquid Iron will also help green up the plants. Also, you might need to add some lime to sweeten your mix. Try adding ½ tsp per pot of slacked/hydrated lime. Ph control should be addressed for all your plants. If you have general yellowing on new leaves or green mold on the pot or soil, it’s a sign of acidity. In general you could add ½ to 1 tsp slacked lime once a month until housing. In general a ph from 6.25 to 6.5 is desired. If you increase the ph too much on reds and purples the bloom color will be less bright.
– Continue this feeding program right up to the bud formation, then drop to approximately ½ tsp per gallon through most of the bloom formation. Heavy feeding during the early bud growth can seriously deform the buds.
-Water thoroughly when you water but don’t water until the plant needs water or feed. Jessies and Dukes generally require less water than most, so don’t water them just because you are walking by with the hose. On the other side, Gigantics and Pat Brophy need more frequent watering. In following your watering program, it is good to let your pots dry out a tad before rewatering as that tends to promote stronger roots. Note: I did not say you should let your pots dry out during the starting stages, nor during the bloom stage.

4. Flushing:
If you are growing in a straight Soilless mix such as M&R you should flush your pots every 4-6 weeks to get the excess salts out of you medium. If you are mixing compost or loam with your soilless the excess salts will be absorbed by the soil and flushing isn’t generally necessary. Never the less it’s a good idea to give your pots a good flushing once or twice. For flushing, fill the pot with clear water, let it drain, refill and drain twice more. After you have completed the flushing, there will be little feed left so it’s a good idea to add a new weeks supply of fertilizer.

5. Top Dressing:
Top dress the pots in late July or early August and again when the buds show color(around Sept 1 to 15). Spread 1 to 2 hands full of your final potting mix on each pot. This gives the upper roots a better growing environment.

6. Pest Management:
Continue to review your pest control program every 1-2 weeks. You need to keep the plants free of black aphids, other bugs and fungal diseases, especially before the blooms open. Aphids in the blooms are unsightly and can cause your bloom to be downgraded or disqualified by the judges.
. Marathon systemic insecticide is applied once per growing season to each pot at the rate of ½ tsp per pot to control aphids, (particularly black aphids). It is imperative that all members use Marathon as an outbreak of black aphids can destroy your whole crop and spread any virus you may have to many other plants. Some other insects such as leaf hoppers, leaf rollers, earwigs and Capsid bugs need to be picked off the plants or they will invariably ruin the bud. Earwigs are particularly dangerous, and a product called Seven when spread around the roots and or sprayed on the plant can be very effective in controlling them.

7. Disease Control:
For disease control, we need to spray regularly with a fungicide during the summer and Fall season. Fungal damage to the leaves will result in significant penalties by the judges.The plants you grow are fairly lush which makes them a great target for Fungi etc. I use Daconil exclusively. It’s the best I know. It covers Botrytus, Early blight, Rust, Late blight, Ring spot, Powdery mildew and other diseases that we typically associate with the heavily fertilized mums. It’s legal and available at some garden stores. I know that McLendon’s carries it. It’s also in demand by Rose and Bean growers. A word of caution: as advertised on the bottle, always use a good fine mesh Nasal filter with this and don’t expose yourself, others, or pets to this as it can be very harmful. In particular you don’t want to get any of this spray in your lungs. See detailed uses and precautions attached to the package. Spray with fungicides every 2-3 weeks, don’t wait until the fungus is visible. I always thoroughly spray my pots when I clean them for housing.

8. Taking the buds:
From mid July to late August the terminal buds will start to appear on your laterals, followed by a ring of smaller buds just below the main bud. It is necessary that the ring of smaller buds be removed, leaving only the single bud on each lateral. This process is termed “Taking the Bud”. You need to let the ring of smaller buds develop to near ¼ inch before attempting to remove them so as to prevent damaging the main stem and primary bud. To remove the buds simply push them sideways with your thumb and they will easily break off. Don’t pinch them off. At this time it’s a good idea to add the bloom support stick i.e a small 16” long stick, tied to the main stem and to the support stake. This support will keep the growing stem straight and the bloom sitting square on top.

As a note we will be changing our fertilizer mixture by adding more Potash after the bud is taken. The August newsletter will cover this in more detail.

Good Growing, Don JULY To Do List: DRS, 7-1-13