Cyclamen for Holiday Cheer
This time of year is all about the poinsettia. The well-know plant makes its way into thousands of homes, brightening spirits and enlisting smiles from holiday guests.
There’s another great winter plant, though, that is often forgotten. The cyclamen. This delicate flower-producing plant is one of those winter treats. Like the Christmas cactus.
Temperature and water are the most important factors in keeping a cyclamen healthy. Ideally, temperatures don’t go below 4°C or above 20°C. Tropical cyclamens aren’t extremely tolerant of temperatures outside of this range, which is why putting it near a drafty window won’t cause it too much harm.
Proper watering is essential. They are a bit fussy. Always water from below and water thoroughly. Leave the plant sitting in water for about 15 minutes. Remove and allow excess water to drain away. Too much water, or water on the surface, can cause mouldy soil and stem rot.
Fertilizing is moderate: half-strength fertilizer for flowering plants will do the trick. No more frequently than once every two months.
Like all flowering plants, the cyclamen will go dormant. This allows the plant to focus on tissues and prepare for the next blooming. Once blooming has finished, you will notice that leaves will turn yellow and drop. Think of it like your outdoor plants in the fall. No need to panic.
At the first sign of yellowing leaves, stop watering. The plant won’t have any use for the moisture and mould will set into the roots. Allow a dormancy period of two months by placing it out of the sun in a place that will stay cool.
Reviving Your Cyclamen
After the two month waiting period, bring your plant back out. Soak the soil well: sit the pot in water for half an hour to an hour, however long it takes to completely soak the soil.
Repotting your cyclamen can help extend its life: they don’t like to be too rootbound. Only go up one size (i.e 4” to 6”) and always clean the pot before using it, even if you just bought it.
Enjoy the spectacular blooms of the cyclamen this winter. They are a bit finicky but you won’t be disappointed.