Making most of cyclamen before recycling
Attractive indoor plant has outdoor connection vital to health and longevity
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.