Exhibition Incurve Blooms.

Exhibition Incurve Blooms.

The Late Incurve blooms are generally regarded as the ‘Aristocrats’ of the chrysanthemum world and are classified Sections 3 and 13 of the National Chrysanthemum Society classification system. 

These are generally flowered with greenhouse or conservatory protection from the weather with the time of flowering being October and November.  The aim for this section is to produce a perfectly formed top and rounded bottom giving a tennis ball shaped bloom of around 90mm (4”) to 120mm (5”) diameter, whose petals tightly incurve towards and close over the top of the bloom is considered a paramount requisite over size or inferior bloated and course blooms.

While established growers produce most of their plants from their own stock plants you can grow these to exhibition standards by importing plants each year from a reliable source such as established nurserymen like Chrysanthemums Direct, Woolmans Plants, Harold Walker or Halls of Heddon.  Alternatively they may be obtained from Amateur nurserymen like National champion growers John Peace or Frankie Charlton.
These rooted cuttings should be obtained in March and potted into 9cm (3½”) pots in a greenhouse or conservatory using either a Soilless or John Innes No 1 compost and grown on, after approximately 4 to 5 weeks these should be re-potted into 13cm (5”) pots again using a Soilless or John Innes No 2 compost. Likewise the choice of a plastic or clay pot is your preference, however the new grower may prefer to use plastic as they are both light weight and cheaper! Another key factor to observe is that whatever compost is utilized remember that aeration and drainage are key to the development of a healthy root system and good plant, therefore the addition of a coarse horticultural grit or Perlite will be of great benefit. By the beginning of June the pots should be full of root and require a final move into a bigger 22cm pot again using Soilless or John Innes No 3 compost incorporating extra grit or Perlite.    

During their time in the 13cm pots most of the plants will need to have the growing tip pinched out to allow the development of small side growths at each leaf joint with the stem, these growths ‘laterals’ will be the new stems to carry and bear each bloom allow four or five of these to develop. The timing of this pinching (stopping) of the growing tip determines the date of flowering as a general rule incurves will be stopped from mid May to End June i.e. the likes of the John Hughes family 15th May and Kay Woolman 10th June whilst Bryony Wade and Harry Woolman prefer to be stopped at the end of June. Another dual purpose variety is Fairweather which is extremely suitable for small a greenhouse requires stopping by 10th May. Once you have experience with the cultural techniques you will see that some of these plants will respond to being pinched (stopped) twice this can delay the flowering period and improve the form of the bloom. Again the usual dates for these are mid April first stop and mid June for the second stop.

From mid June through to mid September the plants should be grown outside watering as required and three 5 foot canes inserted into each pot and the plant tied or fastened into these as the laterals grow. The canes should also be securely fastened to a horizontal support wire to prevent the plant from being blown over in windy conditions. The plants will need feeding from the end of June through to end of August using a half strength Liquid feed of a balanced Fertiliser once per week at 1 pint per pot.

Towards the end of August a cluster of shoots with a bud will appear at the top of each of the stems (lateral) once large enough to handle these shoots/buds should be removed leaving the lone centre bud to develop. Likewise it is your choice whether to keep the 4 or 5 laterals for cut flower blooms or reduce to 3 laterals for three show quality blooms. The buds will continue to swell and eventually by mid September will split and reveal the embryo petals it is at this point the plants should be taken into the Greenhouse/Conservatory for protection enabling the flower to develop – do not close up the greenhouse give maximum ventilation allowing the plants to settle in its new environment.

Throughout the whole summer period that the plants have been stood outside you should take precautionary action to prevent damage from Aphid and Caterpillar attack using a proprietary insecticide and fungicide obtainable from your local garden centre. Making sure you spray and clean the plants before placing them in the greenhouse. As the temperature falls toward the end of October you may be faced with providing a little heat to prevent the blooms damping and also closing the vents at night try to keep the atmosphere dry and water plants very carefully avoiding spillage. Enjoy the resulting blooms.  

The following year you may wish to purchase rooted cuttings again or alternatively try and root your own.- if you want to try the latter then you will need a little heat in the greenhouse or conservatory, therefore if you want to give it a try then follow this routine. After flowering - cut down the plant to 15 – 20cm high and leave until early January just giving sufficient water to keep the plant alive. The plants should be knocked out of their pots and the root ball trimmed to around 15cm square and 7.5cm deep and placed in a seed tray. In early January put in good light and apply a little heat under the plant – if the greenhouse has an electricity supply  then a soil warming cable is ideal, if not then place on the bench and put a small paraffin heater under the bench and in 3 – 4 weeks new shoots will appear from the soil and these should be taken as any other plant – snap them off, dip in hormone rooting powder obtainable from your local garden centre and put into a cuttings compost again available from said garden centre. These are then watered in and placed on your soil warming cable or over the heater and sprayed with a fine mist once a day in around 3 weeks they will form roots and you are back to the same stage as the previous year with your bought-in cuttings.

John Hughes and its Cream, Primrose & Yellow sports. Kay Woolman, Harry Woolman, Darren Pugh,
The Fairweather family – Pink, White, Yellow, Peach and Salmon may also be grown as an incurve and is well suited to a small greenhouse growing very compact at only 1.2 metre (3½ feet) tall.