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by George Harrington

This method of growing chrysanthemums, whether as a hobby, or for show purposes will provide pleasure as well as satisfaction, for young and old alike, requiring no physical strain, and one can grow in a very limited space, a couple of plants, a couple of dozen, or even more, once the bug gets you.

The ease of transporting to shows, plus the actual staging, is certainly a plus, over conventional blooms.

Grown properly, it should be possible to produce, a top class bloom, in fact a champion. I do consider a grand champion could be produced if one were able to coerce the judges, into considering a pot plant as being a Grand Champion of the show. I did have correspondence, with Graham Sharpe that renowned Victorian grower, at one time on this issue and he considered if it were the best bloom in the show he would give it the award, however overall in a close decision I do not think that the judges would agree. Ultimately I suppose one could cut the bloom and display on the bench in the appropriate section.

Growing of pot plants, is not new in itself, as in the U.K.National Chrysanthemum Annual for 1957, there is an article on the subject, showing two methods: -



However the popularity of dwarf pot plants, has greatly increased over the past two or three years, with the advent of the Japanese method of culture, aptly called FUKUSUKE, and pronounced FOO KOO SKA, which interpreted means a large headed dwarf.

There can be little doubt that Graham Sharpe with his introduction of Japanese cultivars, both decoratives, (especially the skirted type) and Spiders, known as fantasies in some States, has been the protagonist in establishing FUKUSUKE, in Australia. A new development is DARUMA, which is growing three blooms up in a larger pot, using similar procedures to FUKUSUKE, a rather more exacting proposition, however the end result is quite spectacular.

My own interest, goes back to the 1986 South Australian show, when I put up several pots, the best of which was a Spider called NIGHTINGALE. Incidentally, these were all grown in 5" pots instead the usual 6"(15cm) due to an error in translation.

The basics of growing dwarf plants are simple. To produce a plant up to show standard, it is essential to use cultivars that are conducive to this type of growing Natural short growing types, are recommended especially the latest Japanese skirted cultivars. Spiders, are really outstanding and it is permitted to use a ring support to give them their full beauty. Incurves, are also suitable, along with Anemones.

The object should be to produce a fully developed bloom in a 15 cm pot. Squat pots would be preferable, from an appearance point of view, but are not essential.

Judges will look for a full bloom, set squarely on a plant, which has a straight stem, with healthy foliage, free from pest damage. The leaves should be evenly spaced, and a recommended height from bench, to centre of the calyx of the bloom should be 40 cm, irrespective of the height of the pot.

Suggested Program for Southern Australia

1. 16th .... 26th October
Strike stockplant cuttings, using shoots from base of existing plants.

2. 20th....30th November
Remove tips, to force lateral growth
Fertilise, with Phostrogen and or Nitrosel, at this stage the importance of nitrogen, cannot be overstressed

3. 20th ....30th December
From laterals, now growing away on stockplant, strike cuttings, these will be the actual plants.
The rooting medium I suggest is, peat plus perlite. Use a hormone powder such as Seredex, to assist in rooting.

4. 4th ....5th January
Pot rooted cuttings into tubes

5. 10th ....15th January (note 4 to 5 day lapse)
Spray with a growth retardant such as ‘Bonzi’

· Spray rooted cuttings, using a spreader agent, top half of foliage only to run off point.

· Plant to be turgid before application.

· Foliage not to be wetted for 24 hours after application.

· Not to be mixed with other chemicals.

6. 25th January....5th February
Pot on into final pots when ready and fully rooted, with an intermediate move if necessary. Use a good open compost, and keep growing vigorously by using a well balanced fertiliser. Nitrogen and potash are essential in the first 7 weeks of growth, as missed growth cannot be made up at a later stage. I have found a combination of Phostrogen, Nitrosol, and slow release pills to be very effective. The plants must not dry out and must be kept free of pests, particularly aphids.

7. 21 days after spraying with the growth retardant, ‘Bonzi,’ give a second spray.

8. Select buds as they appear and remove all other shoots

9. Support bloom with unobtrusive slit cane, or bloom support.


Feed at weekly intervals with products such as Phostrogen, Nitrosel or Maxicrop. Raw sugar can be incorporated, should the weather be on the dull side. The dosage is 500 grams to one litre of water, feed at the rate of one part per 200. This can be incorporated with usual liquid feed.

11 ... PESTS.

Use Dysiston Granular, as per manufacturer instructions to prevent foliar damage, and once again take great care and use gloves and face mask.

In order to meet show dates, it is advisable, to have some pots started a week earlier and others a week later than the preceding dates, thus giving a wider scope, particularly as some cultivars react differently to the retarding treatment

This diagram shows graphically the production of Fukusuke as described by Graham Sharpe.

© 2000 by George Harrington