Online Only: Premature Budding on Garden Mums

Online Only: Premature Budding on Garden Mums

Premature budding or early flowering of garden mums could be a major headache for many growers. Last season, I received numerous phone calls and eMails in regard to plants finishing short or flowering too early. Both are a result of premature budding that occurs when plants initiate flower buds prematurely due to stressful weather and growing conditions before reaching reproductive stage.

Occasionally, only terminal buds will initiate too early and in most cases plants, will finish satisfactorily if kept moist and well fertilized. When all terminal and lateral flower buds initiate too early, plants will not always perform well unless flower buds are removed and plants are allowed to regrow under optimum conditions.

In most cases, low temperatures, short days and lack of adequate water and fertilizer in early stages are the main causes of premature budding.

Time & Location

Northern states will experience cold temperatures until the end of June (Figure 1), and several consecutive cool nights below 50°F will have greater influence on flowering than the day length.  Small plants moved or planted outside too early and exposed to cold temperatures will flower prematurely and finish short. Crops planted too early in April or May will sometimes finish smaller than the ones planted in June grown under optimum weather conditions. In some cases, plants that budded too early had to be cut back and finished two to three weeks later than originally scheduled.

Garden mums are short-day plants, and some varieties will initiate flower buds with less than 10 ½ hours of darkness under black cloth conditions. A low light intensity in rooting areas combined with short days and lack of night interruption will cause premature budding in the South. The longest day in South Florida is only 13 ½ hours, and this is very close to what garden mums need for flower initiation.

Figure 1. Grand Rapids, Michigan–Monthly Climate Plot for June 2008. Source: NOAA’s National Weather Service 

Growers can minimize premature budding related to cold temperatures and short days by maintaining adequate water and fertilization. At the same time, water stress and low fertility alone will reduce number of leaves and restrict branching and vegetative growth. Plants will appear hard and go into a reproductive mode before reaching proper size.

Similar problems may occur with high rates of a control-release fertilizer that could result in very high EC due to uncontrolled release in hot weather. High salts will damage roots and stop plant growth. If a control-release fertilizer releases in a very short time and all nutrients are leached with clear water, plants will later experience more stress from being underfed.

Premature Budding Prevention

In addition, any extreme weather conditions, like very high temperatures combined with low relative humidity or excessive rainfall causing root loss may result in premature budding.
Growers can often prevent premature budding by following these steps:

• Garden mums must never be allowed to dry during the early stages. Keep plants moist and well fed until they reach at least 60 percent of the final size.

• Avoid planting or moving plants outside too early if unable to ensure optimum temperature. Very cold nights will most likely trigger early flower initiation and plants will finish too short. The appearance of small flower buds will indicate the end of the vegetative growth.

• Feed with phosphor-rich fertilizer like 20-20-20 at 250 ppm right after transplanting to promote rooting and vegetative growth. Plants that are well fertilized will continue to develop lateral breaks and will be less likely to suffer from premature budding. 

Duration of darkness in different states
on the 15th of each month in 2008 (Source: US Naval Observatory)

• Light cuttings in propagation: Four hours of night interruption from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. will keep garden mums vegetative. Growers in the Deep South should light cuttings in propagation year-round.

• Use Florel only if necessary. Apply 500 ppm spray when cuttings are fully rooted or one week after transplanting. Florel will delay flowering in some varieties, so it is safer to use temperature and lights to prevent premature budding.

• Mist plants in the middle of the day for several days after transplanting or spacing outside during extreme hot weather. Misting will reduce heat stress and limit potential root loss. 

• When using drip irrigation, consider half the rate of a control-release fertilizer in combination with liquid feed to minimize extreme EC fluctuations. This feed combo tends to keep plants more compact and well branched.

• GroLink varieties don’t require pinch to perform best under normal conditions unless terminal buds initiate too early and rooted cuttings have to be pinched. In such a case, use hard pinch by removing at least half an inch of top growth and leaving six to seven leaves. Plants will continue to branch and finish satisfactorily with minimum delay.

• Cuttings should be purchased from reliable suppliers that keep mother stock clean and vegetative at all times. The cutting quality and growing practices in early stages of the crop will surely determine if one has to deal with premature budding for the rest of the season. However, a proper variety selection, scheduling and attention to detail will be the key to producing reliable garden mums year after year.

Leave a Reply

More From Plant Culture...
Status of Marijuana US Map May 2015

May 29, 2015

Marijuana Legalization Updates

As of April 2015, 23 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) currently have laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity. At the federal level, several bills are currently awaiting action. Here is an update on current state and federal marijuana legislation across the U.S.

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

May 29, 2015

Making The Decision To Produce Medical Marijuana

Should horticultural growers consider cultivating medical marijuana? That’s up to the individual grower, of course, and certainly a number of growers already have jumped in. We at Meister Media Worldwide, publishers of Greenhouse Grower and American Vegetable Grower, do not necessarily endorse nor oppose the production of medical marijuana. But we do feel it is an option worth exploring. We intend our “Medical Marijuana” series of articles to give you information you need to make your own call. We hope you find it useful, and we do welcome your comments, thoughts and ideas as we continue to cover what we’re fairly certain is only going to be an increasingly viable and growing market for this emerging crop.

Read More
Double Whammy Merchandise Display At CAST2015

May 28, 2015

Grow Inspiration To Grow The Horticulture Industry

We need to work together as the horticulture industry to inspire and instruct consumers with our plant knowledge and marketing expertise.

Read More
Latest Stories
Bee on a Sedum

March 17, 2015

4 Key Pollinator Research Projects To Be Funded By Hort…

The Horticultural Research Institute will grant $125,000 in financial support for four key projects as part of the Horticultural Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has three primary goals. First, to convene a task force to develop a bee and pollinator stewardship program, including creation of best management practices for plant production. Second, to identify and fund research that will help answer key science questions and fill gaps needed to design and refine the stewardship program. Third, to seek to positively position the horticultural community and its customers by collaborating with other compatible groups interested in augmenting pollinator habitat and protection.

Read More

March 11, 2015

Pollinator Initiative Promotes Bee-Friendly Talking Poi…

AmericanHort and the Society of American Florists are working tirelessly with the ornamental industry's Pollinator Stewardship Initiative on a number of new projects.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Infusion Technology Boosts Seed Performance, Study Sugg…

Seven-year-old wheat seed germination can increase by as much as 83 percent, according to a Vital Force Technology Study that looks at the effects of energy infusion technology on plant vitality.

Read More

February 3, 2015

American Floral Endowment Accepting Research Pre-Propos…

If you are pursuing a floriculture research project, now is the time to apply for funding through the American Floral Endowment. Research pre-proposal applications for 2015-2016 funding are due to AFE by June 1, 2015.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Marijuana’s Trajectory And Ascent To Horticultural Cr…

Marijuana growing is poised for change as growers and researchers focus on improving production practices.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Greenhouse Production: Two Years Of Basics & Beyond…

Greenhouse Grower's Basics & Beyond articles cover some of the latest news and research going on in greenhouse production. Here are article links for the last two years.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 24, 2014

GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile &…

The social garden app GrowIt! takes the Gold Winner award at the design100 2014 Mobile & App Design Awards.

Read More

November 10, 2014

The Perennial Farm Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection

The Perennial Farm joins the HGTV HOME Plant Collection growers' network for 2015.

Read More

November 4, 2014

AmericanHort Publishes Revised American Standard For Nu…

AmericanHort announces the revised American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) is now available for industry use. The Standard reflects the consensus of the industry regarding how nursery stock — living plants other than annuals — should be specified and sold within the trade.

Read More

September 26, 2014

Master The Art Of Watering

Watering is elemental to healthy plants, but one of the hardest concepts for new employees to master in the greenhouse. Recommend these tips to start them off right.

Read More

September 16, 2014

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas Facility Provides Gro…

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas farm in Esteli, Nicaragua, is one year away from full production, but sales and quality from the two-year-old facility are right on track.

Read More
Erysimum 'Cheers' from Darwin Perennials

September 15, 2014

Darwin Perennials Takes Production Offshore In Bogota, …

With its recent purchase of a farm in Colombia, Darwin Perennials is ready to amp up supply of its perennial genetics, to provide growers with tried-and-true varieties and comprehensive production specifications.

Read More

July 23, 2014

Plan Now To Prevent Bract Edge Burn On Poinsettias

Reduce fertilizer and water, and allow your poinsettias to develop slowly during the final four weeks of production to avoid bract edge burn.

Read More

July 11, 2014

Growing Your Crops Above Their Base Temperature

Lowering temperature set points in the greenhouse may help you combat rising heating costs.

Read More

May 1, 2014

Growers Report Nutritional Problems On Geraniums

In recent weeks, several growers have contacted Michigan State University Specialists about leaf discoloration on geraniums, especially the purpling of lower leaves.

Read More

April 22, 2014

How Two Postharvest Care Products Worked On Potted Plan…

What your potted plants look like at retail translates to sales or fails. North Carolina State University researchers report on how two postharvest care products performed.

Read More
Dianthus 'Passion' from Emerald Coast Growers

March 27, 2014

Growing Dianthus Successfully

Here's some advice on transplanting and producing this classic perennial favorite.

Read More
Aquilegia canadensis

March 10, 2014

Tips For Producing Aquilegia

Advice on planting, temperature, vernalization, lighting and more on columbine from Emerald Coast Growers' head grower Josiah Raymer.

Read More