Mak­ing most of cy­cla­men be­fore re­cy­cling

At­trac­tive in­door plant has out­door con­nec­tion vi­tal to health and longevity

Central Otago Mirror - - FEATURES -

Grow­ing a pot­ted cy­cla­men in­doors? With th­ese sim­ple tricks, you can keep yours in bloom for sev­eral months.

The cy­cla­men in gar­den cen­tres and florists in late au­tumn and win­ter come from the par­ent plant Cy­cla­men per­sicum, or florist cy­cla­men as they’re called. Cul­ti­va­tion of florist cy­cla­men be­gan in the 17th cen­tury when Vic­to­rian botanists be­gan cross­ing them. Colours to­day re­main limited, but va­ri­ety has ex­panded to in­clude stripes, frills, splotches and crested as well as bi­colours.

A mem­ber of the prim­rose fam­ily, cy­cla­men flower in the cooler months and go dor­mant in sum­mer. You will find them in the gar­den cen­tres now, in vari­a­tions of pink hues and white.

Years ago I spoke to a cy­cla­men breeder who sug­gested buy­ing two plants. ‘‘Place one in­side and one out­side then swap them around ev­ery week. By do­ing this, you’ll be keep­ing the plants strong and healthy. In the house they tend to get a lit­tle soft and stretch, but you’ll get a bet­ter life out of them this way.’’

Place your cy­cla­men in a cool, well-lit room away from heaters and di­rect sun­light. Keep away from drafts too, and avoid sud­den tem­per­a­ture changes.

You should keep your plants moist but not soggy and make sure you do not wa­ter the leaves. Wet crowns or over­wa­ter­ing can lead to rot. In the grow­ing pe­riod (when leaves are grow­ing and flow­ers are bloom­ing), feed with a sol­u­ble fer­tiliser once a fort­night.

Dead­head any faded blooms to keep plants pro­duc­ing more. The eas­i­est way to do this is to hold the flower stalk in the mid­dle, then twist and pull at the same time so the stalk de­taches from the base of the plant. You need to re­move the whole stalk; if any stalk re­mains it will rot and botry­tis can set in.

Snip off yel­low­ing fo­liage too, to pre­vent dis­ease. Bear in mind, though, that yel­low leaves may be a sign of over­heat­ing or not enough wa­ter.

If your cy­cla­men’s flow­ers or leaves start to look dis­torted or stunted, your plant may have spi­der mites. If the mites get into the buds they can be tricky to con­trol with sprays, at least un­til the flower opens, by which time it might be look­ing less than per­fect. You can use a spray for mites, or I have heard of grow­ers im­mers­ing plants in wa­ter at 43.5degC for 30 min­utes to kill them.

When your plants have fin­ished flow­er­ing and go dor­mant, stop feed­ing, re­duce wa­ter­ing and al­low the leaves to yel­low and the soil to dry out. Place the pot un­der a tree un­til new growth ap­pears in Fe­bru­ary or March. At that time, bring the plants in­doors and re­move the tu­ber from its pot. Dust with a fungi­cide, then repot in fresh pot­ting mix. Begin wa­ter­ing and feed­ing, and the cy­cla­men cy­cle will soon start over again.

Pot­ted cy­cla­men can make a very at­trac­tive dis­play.

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