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Cyclamen offer great winter flower choices
If you’re still looking for a fantastic indoor plant for the winter season, try cyclamen. It has a long blooming period and produces loads of colorful flowers to enjoy on dreary days.
Flowers can be found in a variety of shades of red, pink and white, but I think some of the most attractive are the soft pastels of pink and lavender.
The nodding flowers have swept-back petals that are held on straight stems above the foliage. Another highly attractive feature of cyclamen is that they have varying patterns of silver and gray on the cordate, or heart-shaped, leaves.
Cyclamen like lots of bright, indirect light when grown indoors. Keep your containers away from any heating vents. Cyclamen like high humidity, and low indoor humidity can be a problem during the winter months. To solve this problem, keep your cyclamen container on a layer of pebbles in a tray filled with water. Never place the container directly in the water.
We are lucky in Mississippi because we can grow cyclamen outdoors for much of the winter. Cyclamen like temperatures that are around 40 to 60 degrees. Colorful containers arranged by the front door make a cheerful greeting for visitors. When a spell of cold weather comes along, bring the cyclamen containers inside, where they can brighten the home’s décor.
The most common problem home gardeners have with cyclamen is watering. You must avoid overwatering. Always wait for the potting mix to feel dry to the touch, then water thoroughly around the outside of the container. Never water directly on the crown of your cyclamen, as doing this can encourage crown rot. Place the container in the sink to drain completely.
When the weather begins to warm, the cyclamen’s leaves will start to turn to yellow. Many gardeners see this as the signal to throw the plant away and buy a new one next fall, but the adventurous gardener can try to force a new round of blooms.
To force blooms, stop watering the yellowing foliage and allow it to wither and the potting media to dry out. After a couple of months, re-pot the cyclamen tuber in a slightly larger container, leaving half of the tuber above the potting mix. Resist the urge to water it. When cooler temperatures come in the fall, new leaves will start to sprout. That’s when you water the plant well.
When choosing a cyclamen at the garden center, consider these buying tips. Just as you do when selecting flowering bedding plants in the summer, pick a plant that has a few flowers open. Make sure the flower stems are standing straight and there are lots of flower buds hiding under the foliage. These will grow and continue the flowering show at home.