delightful winter flowers

Why don’t more people have a Cyclamen brightening up their winter homes.

Cyclamen persicum with its bright upturned flowers and variegated leaves is one of the most delightful winter flowering house plants. It has a fatal flaw that stops people from buying their second one but the rising cost of heating oil may help its reputation. It really likes to live in a cool environment. The average room temperature of most of our houses will turn its leaves yellow and stop it from its normal continuous winter flowering. Turn down the thermostat and buy more Cyclamen. The house is prettier and the oil bill decreases; a win win situation.


What’s Cool?
A night time temperature of 13 C (55F) and a high during the day of about 18C (65F) is ideal for these plants. Mine doesn’t get quite that cool at night but I have managed to keep the same plant flowering continuously, in the winter, for at least three years. I will provide you with all of the steps necessary to make that happen and then show you how I manage to ignore most of the instructions and still be successful. My plant is still in the same 15cm (6") pot that it was purchased in three years ago. I could probably make it more floriferous if I tried harder but I just neglect it and enjoy it.

cyclamen reblooming Light and Water?
It winters and flowers under the glass top of the breakfast table in our solarium. It gets considerable light in that location. From late fall through most of the winter it always has a few flowers on it just as it appears in the picture. I water it regularly, probably at least weekly. There are whole paragraphs written on how to water Cyclamen; from the bottom, from the top avoiding the corm, don’t over water, (not a chance in my house,) don’t let it wilt, (happens occasionally.) I pick it up when I’m walking past and if it is quite light in weight it must need some water. I put it under the nearby kitchen tap and fill it up. I must get the top of the corm wet but I have never had any rot problems.

cyclamen corm

What’s A Corm?
Cyclamen flower from a fattened and swollen base of their stems. Some of my reference books call it a corm and some a tuber and the botanical niceties that differentiate these two structures really are irrelevant to getting them to flower in your house or mine. They survive a dormant period by having energy stored in this corm/tuber and they can be stored or shipped in this form although they are not readily available. Commercial growers almost always start them from seed; a bit of a long and finicky process best left to the professionals.

Summer Where?
In the late spring when we are past the frost free date, I move this pot outside and keep it in a shady, therefore somewhat cool, spot for the summer. The books suggest that you should stop watering it after it has finished flowering. It should then go dormant and be stored in a cool place being resurrected in late summer by starting to water it again. Never made any attempt to do this and am now afraid to try as it has flowered each year anyway. It’s also supposed to get repotted after the dormant period. The one I did that too has never performed as well. Being pot bound helps to initiate the flowering. It gets fertilized outside all summer as it is mixed in with my summering Amaryllis bulbs. The books say to fertilize it in the fall and through the winter while it is flowering. I’ll have to try that as it can’t hurt.

Buy one midwinter. Keep it as cool as possible. Summer it outside in the shade and enjoy it again and again for several years. Cool is the key!

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