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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Cyclamen - from David Robson

Posted by John Fulton -

Cyclamen has become one of the favorite winter blooming pot plants. Newer, hardier varieties introduced during the 1980's have increased the ease with which it can be grown and has led to increased popularity, states David Robson, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, Springfield Center.

The flowering period of the cyclamen is from mid-November or early December until well into spring. So, the cyclamen can add color and cheer to a household during the long, dreary winter months.

Cyclamens have either white, red or pink flowers that grow on tall stems above heart-shaped, blue-green or dark green leaves. The foliage is attractively marked with veins and light green splotches. Thirty or more blossoms may appear on the plant before it declines.

Cyclamen love cool temperatures and bright (not direct) light. A daytime temperature of 60 to 65 F is recommended with a nighttime minimum of 50 F. An ideal location is an unshaded east window, fairly close-up to the glass.

Cyclamen need relatively high humidity to remain attractive. To help maintain humidity, fill a large plate or broad, shallow pan with water. Set the cyclamen on an inverted dish, just up out of the water. The evaporating water will do a great deal towards maintaining humid air around the foliage and flowers.

Check soil moisture regularly. This plant requires plenty of water and good drainage. Keep water out of the foliage crowns.

Handled in this way, a well-budded specimen often continues blooming for 2 to 3 months. Bud blasting and leaf yellowing result from a hot, dry atmosphere, lack of water or insufficient light.

Although the cyclamen is difficult to re-bloom, you will be proud if you can be successful in your attempt. To carry it over for another season, gradually withhold water after the flowers are gone. When the foliage has withered, remove the "bulb" from the soil, clean off all of the soil and debris and store it in dry peat moss or vermiculite in a plastic bag at 50 degrees F.

Replant in good potting soil in May or June, keeping the upper half of the tuber above the surface. When well started, grow the plant in a cool, bright, protected spot outside, with partial shade during the hottest part of the day and with the pot sunk in a bed of moist peat moss.

Through the summer water adequately, and feed about twice a month with a complete liquid fertilizer. Bring indoors before cold weather, and provide full sun and the temperatures suggested above. Flowering should occur by midwinter. With luck, your plant can be acceptably re-bloomed over a period of a year. Growing cyclamen from seed is discouraged, even though this is the only method used by professional growers. Germination is slow and erratic, and 9 to 15 months are needed to produce full sized blooming plants, even under the best greenhouse conditions.

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