Cyclamen advice wanted!

collette_az(10 AZ)September 17, 2005

Last year I tried Cyclamen in a planter on my covered patio twice, both times unsuccessfully. There is bright light, but not direct sun.

I want to try again, because I love them. I have heard some people keep them alive year after year here. Does anyone know what may have happened to mine? I know they are a bulb so I know not to overwater or it'll cause rot. I pinch the leaves and flowers off, like they like.

Maybe next time I will use RO water, maybe they are sensitive to chlorine in water.

Do you think it is ok to get some going now? (mid-Sept) ??

Does anyone know if it matters where I buy them? Last attempts were plants from a real nursery (not Home Depot or Lowes)

Any advice will be greatly appreciated! thanks, Collette

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Cyclamen like it cold. They go dormant in the heat. Mine are in pots on a north facing windowsill, with no growth, waiting for winter, to be brought out onto a sunny cold windowsill where they spring to life.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2005 at 8:39AM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

It depends on the sort you buy. C persica, the big florists' variety will live outdoors. It flowers over winter and needs cool nights. (Put it out with the kitty!) It goes sort of dormant over the summer and starts back into leaf as the days begin to cool down. Some of them barely take a pause at all but, in very arid conditions, they might be happier on the north side of the house in the coolest you can manage.

You also might want to look at a species such as C graecum or even the little autumn C hederifolium which are hardy into zone 10. They'll tolerate quite a lot of drought while dormant but they do need winter moisture so they can leaf up and store food for the next season.

I grow mine out in the garden, mostly, and I rarely pinch off the flowers when they've finished. I like watching the seed pods bending over and the stalks forming little corkscrews before the Cyclamen self-seeds. If you do this be sure to leave the area unweeded so the babies can establish and get the colony growing.

Even when the plant is heading for dormancy I leave the leaves to dry off, unless they are obviously stricken with some form of rot.

One thing to really check on with a store-bought plant: the potting medium. Quite often shippers use a peat-based mix because it's lighter to transplant. Unfortunately, it holds moisture for too long. Cyclamen do better with a free-draining medium, perhaps with sharp grit or pumice so their roots can forage in the pot. That peat tends to keep the roots confined as well as not draining very quickly.

A small amount of dolomite in the mix helps, and they do well with side dressings of slow release fertiliser. If you have access to ancient and well-rotted cow manure, some of that will also be appreciated.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2005 at 4:13AM
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