Cy­cla­men of­fer win­ter colour

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING - Ring meat 0800 466464 (Palmer­ston North 3570606) Email­wal­lyjr@gar­de­news.co.nz Web­site www.gar­de­news.co.nz WALLY RICHARDS

With win­ter ap­proach­ing it’s an ideal time to pre­pare con­tainer plants for bright­en­ing up cold gloomy days.

Win­ter flow­er­ing cy­cla­men va­ri­eties are read­ily avail­able, the minia­ture types are of­ten quite fra­grant.

Cy­cla­men pre­fer a cool or colder sit­u­a­tion with as much di­rect sun­light as pos­si­ble, mak­ing them ideal for win­dowsills, and for colour around en­trance ways.

They are not a flow­er­ing plant that can be left on a cof­fee ta­ble in the mid­dle of the room ex­cept for short pe­ri­ods of time.

Away from the win­dowsill or the out­doors, the leaves and flow­ers start to stretch to­wards the dis­tant light and the plant be­comes un­bal­anced. Stretch­ing weak­ens the plant, mak­ing it sus­cep­ti­ble to over-wa­ter­ing dis­eases.

When cur­tains are drawn at night, the win­dowsill cy­cla­men should be be­tween the cur­tain and the win­dow.

Ev­ery few days, ro­tate the pot 180 de­grees so that each side of the plant re­ceives di­rect light for a few days. This will help keep the plant bal­anced.

Re­sist any temp­ta­tion to over wa­ter, es­pe­cially in a heated room with lit­tle air move­ment, as rots can form on the leaves and flower stems. In some cases the bulb will also rot away.

Check daily and if the flower stems are start­ing to droop, give the plant a small drink of cold wa­ter (200ml – 500ml de­pend­ing on the size of the con­tainer) around the cir­cum­fer­ence of the pot avoid­ing the bulb. If the wa­ter runs out, it means the mix has be­come too dry.

To fix this, fill a bucket with wa­ter and plunge the pot into it so that the top of the con­tainer is sub­merged. Air will start bub­bling up and the pot should be held un­der wa­ter till there are no more bub­bles. Lift, al­low to drain, and place the pot out­side in a porch or shel­tered spot for a cou­ple of days to al­low the con­tainer to dry out a bit in the cold, be­fore re­turn­ing it to the win­dowsill.

When­ever a cy­cla­men starts look­ing a bit poorly, pop it out­side for about a week to freshen it.

Add any good liq­uid plant food to the wa­ter once or twice a month. Matrix Reloaded is an ex­cel­lent con­tainer plant food as it has all the min­er­als for grow­ing plants in a hy­dro­ponic sys­tem.

When flow­er­ing has fin­ished, place the plant some­where out of full sum­mer sun­light. Out­doors, cy­cla­men will likely pro­duce seed pods as flower pol­li­na­tion is breeze as­sisted.

When fully ripe they can be har­vested for fresh seeds.

Ger­mi­nate dur­ing win­ter by keep­ing seeds moist par­tially cov­ered or bare on top of the grow­ing medium. They ger­mi­nate best in the dark with some un­der­heat.

Once the first leaves ap­pear, move the seed tray into a bight light and al­low the medium to dry out a bit be­fore re­wa­ter­ing. Later about Christ­mas time the baby plants will be of rea­son­able size to pot in­di­vid­u­ally into small 50mm con­tain­ers and pro­gres­sively to larger ones.

They then can be trans­ferred to a larger con­tainer say about 120mm size.

When this pot is filled then up to a larger one again say about 200mm or big­ger.

With am­ple food you can grow a mas­sive cy­cla­men with hun­dreds of flow­ers for the fol­low­ing win­ter.

PHOTO: FAIR­FAX NZ

Bright and fra­grant, cy­cla­men are ideal indoor and out­door win­ter flow­er­ing plants. Just pay the indoor ones some at­ten­tion for best re­sults.

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