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