Garden Detective: Cyclamen goes from pot to where?

05/24/2014 12:00 AM

05/23/2014 10:17 PM

I’ve had beautiful cyclamen blooming since November! They were in big pots on the front entryway. However, I have replaced them with impatiens. The cyclamen are healthy, just not blooming anymore. What is the best way to keep them strong for next year? I can plant them in pots on the side of the house, or in an inconspicuous shady spot in the garden.

– Patty Johnson, Sacramento

You’re on the right track. Either option would work.

As a genus, cyclamen include about 20 species, native mostly to the Mediterannean. A popular gift plant, the familiar florist cyclamen are hybrids of Cyclamen persicum, winter- and spring-blooming varieties in a wide range of colors.

Cyclamen grow from a tuber. The unusual up-swept flowers and silver-patterned leaves make cyclamen an attractive choice for shady garden spots, too.

In pots, cyclamen can be kept blooming inside from late fall through March. To prolong their bloom, pick off spent flowers. As each flower fades, remove the entire flower stalk (a sharp little tuck usually works). That prompts new flowers to emerge from its tuber.

Indoors, cyclamens like a cool room (50 to 55 degrees at night, 60 to 68 degrees during day) with bright light and good air circulation. (They’re great in drafty old houses.)

The tuber, which is half-buried in the soil, may rot if watered directly. Instead, place the plant in a saucer of water and let it soak up the moisture. Feed every other week with half-strength houseplant fertilizer.

Cyclamen will go dormant in late spring as the leaves die back. Place the potted tuber in a shady place in the garden, then bring back inside in fall. The change of surroundings (and warmer indoor temperatures) usually prompts a new cycle of cyclamen blooms.

Varieties of hardy cyclamen can be planted directly in the ground, preferably in shade, in soil with good drainage. They’ll naturalize and re-bloom year after year.

For more information on cyclamens, click on www.hardycyclamens.com.

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