Tanacetum as a cut flower for the UK market
Tanacetum (also known as Matricaria) is a member of the Asteraceae family and produces a mass of small flower heads similar to Santini chrysanthemums. They are widely grown in Holland and imported to the UK to be used mainly as a filler.
Trials at the Cut Flower Centre in 2021 and 2022 investigated the potential for Tanacetum to be grown as a UK crop and demonstrated the range of varieties currently available for cut flower production.
‘Amazone’, ‘Rio’, ‘Vegmo Single’, ‘Vegmo Snowball’ and ‘Vegmo yellow’.
Plugs were sourced from Florensis.
CFC trials have demonstrated that the varieties of Tanacetum trialled have potential to be grown commercially in Spanish tunnels. For continuity of cropping, plantings in a Spanish tunnel in weeks 18,23, 26, 29 and 30 all produced harvestable product. The crop was quick to mature with most plantings being ready to harvest within 9 to 10 weeks with ‘Vegmo Single’ always maturing 7 to 10 days quicker than all of the other varieties. Stem length was consistently more than 70 cm from all plantings.
Tanacetum plugs planted through 12.5cm x 12.5cm support wires at a density of 64 plants/m2 produced a marketable crop.
Soil sterilisation with steam is suggested before planting and we followed chrysanthemum fertiliser recommendations for crop nutrition. In our trials, plugs were easy to establish from planting and soon grew away vigorously, even some older, stretched plugs that should ideally have been planted 2 weeks earlier.
Following overhead watering for establishment the crop switching to conventional lay-flat irrigation successfully met the crops needs.
Pest and disease problems
Our experience of pest and disease issues on Tanacetum varied with cropping year. In 2021 the crop did not suffer any P&D issues except for a small amount of leafminer. In 2022 a prophylactic spray programme was applied for leaf miner and hence very little mining was seen on the leaves. However, in 2022 some of the varieties (especially ‘Vegmo Single’) suffered from severe powdery mildew indicating that an additional specific spray programme is required to control the problem.
A small amount of aphid was also observed in 2022 and was controlled as soon as it became apparent.
Pest and disease challenges will vary with the season and cropping situation but growers should be aware that leaf miner, powdery mildew and aphids at least are important challenges to plan for as part of integrated management programmes.
Stems should be harvested for marketing when 30 to 50% of the flowers are open.
Plantings that mature evenly can benefit from once over harvesting i.e. harvesting the whole crop at the same time with e.g. a hedge trimmer. Sorting and grading can then be more easily done on a flower line in the packhouse. In our experience Tanacetum crops planted after week 29 matured too unevenly for once over harvesting and would need to be picked over every 4 to 7 days.
In order to achieve continuity of cropping the trials indicted that fortnightly plantings should be made but no later than week 30. If growing in a glasshouse, plantings could be made earlier than the week 18 planting used in these trials
Product vase life
Vase life does not appear to be an issue with this crop with 10 to 14 days being reported. Preliminary recomendations for maximising vase life are outlined below.
Directly after harvest/Grower stage:
- Store in a storage/bucket solution such as Floralife Express Clear ULTRA 200
- For store phase/display:
- Store in a storage/bucket solution such as Floralife Express Clear ULTRA 200 whilst on display in store
- For consumer/vase phase:
- Provide a consumer flower food such as Floralife Express 300
There should be a good market for UK produced Tanacetum as an import substitution product for use as a filler in mixed bouquets. The head form of a number of the varieties (except ‘Vegmo single’) is also very similar to AYR Santini chrysanthemums and as these can be expensive to import from Holland it may give the opportunity for Tanacetum to replace these in mixed bunches hence expanding their market potential.
Freshly planted crop (left)
At flowering stage
Good stem length