The Q&A Archives: Growing Mums From My Own Seeds

Question: I have several colors and varieties of chyrsanthemums in my gardens. I want to develop new gardens and grow mums in large quantities, about 2 acres worth. How and where do I get the seeds from my existing plants to start new ones? How and when do I plant them?

Answer: Saving seeds is quite easy. However, don?t save seed from hybrid plants, because when planted it will not mature identical to the parent plant. (A hybrid plant is produced by cross pollinating two different parent plants.) Hybrid plants are labeled as such on seed packets and in catalog descriptions. (You can still sow seed from hybrid plants, but you won't know what you get until much later.)

Let some flowers dry and ?go to seed.? As seeds begin to turn brown and fall off, hold a paper bag or container underneath and tap dry seeds into it. Or, tie paper bags over the flowerheads to catch falling seeds. Punch a few holes in the bag to provide circulation. Another way is to wait until about 10 percent of the seeds are brown and falling off. Then cut the entire flowerhead and stem, place it upside down in a paper bag, hang it in a cool, dry location and let the seeds separate on their own.

Collect seeds on dry, sunny days to avoid any excess moisture. If needed, dry seeds completely on sheets of newspaper for a week or so. Dispose of stems and leaves. A screen or colander works well to remove chaff. Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

Sow seeds at 59 degrees F. They germinate in about 2 weeks and flower the same year. Since you are starting so many plants, you may want to sow seeds in flats with a soilless potting mix and transplant them as they mature. Wherever you sow, keep soil moist until germination. You might also want to read a good reference on the subject, such as The Seed Starter's Handbook. Good luck!

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