12 December 2013
Cyclamens for Indoor Colour
In the dark, dismal days of winter, why not cheer yourself up with an indoor cyclamen, cyclamen persicum. These are colourful, easy to care for and cheap, and will repay you by flowering for weeks.
Cyclamens belong to the primrose family and come in a range of colours - from rose-pink to bright red via crimson. The small-flowered varieties of Cyclamen persicum, known as the florist's cyclamen, can be found in white, crimson or magenta.
When you get your indoor cyclamen home give it an extra zing by removing it from it's plastic pot and replanting it in a colourful or sparkly one. Use loam-based compost with added grit and a handful of peat and try not to disturb the roots.
Spread the flowers out from the base as they tend to clump together. The flowers will look more elegant when teased out between the leaves.
Cyclamens are pretty easy to look after - just note the following points:-
1) They are ok with a room temperature of about 55F/13C, but don't like to get too hot.
2) Put them somewhere light but without too much direct sunlight. Getting them too warm will encourage early dormancy, whereas keeping them in light, cool conditions may see them continue to flower into mid-May.
3) They don't like freezing temperatures so on cold, frosty nights make sure they are kept where the minimum temperature is 50F/10C.
4) They don't like too much water - keep them moist, but not dripping wet. Better to give them an overnight soak in a bowl of water, then leave them for another week, rather than giving them daily dribbles of water.
5) Keep your plant looking it's best by removing any dead or dying leaves with a sharp tug to the stem.
In the wild, cyclamens' distribution is centred on the Mediterranean, and they follow the common pattern of coming into growth in the autumn, growing through the winter and spring and then turning dormant through the dry, hot summer. To try to copy their native conditions, stop watering when they stop flowering and let the leaves go yellow and wither. This is usually in April, but could be a few weeks later.
Put them somewhere cool and dry for the summer, but where they will still get some moisture. Your tubers may rot if they are kept too moist in their dormant period.
While your plants are dormant, pot them on into a slightly larger pot.
Cyclamen persicum can be kept outside for the summer, but need to be brought back into the the house before it gets too cold.
Start watering again in September, or when regrowth is visible, giving the pot a good soak. If no growth shows when you water it, don't water again until shoots appear.
With the right care, your plants should be in flower again soon after Christmas, and will increase in size year on year.
Three types for you to look out for are Cyclamen persicum Halios White, Halios Violet and Halios Bright Fuchsia.