In today’s throw-away society, many indoor gardeners expect their beautiful winter cyclamen to last only one season. Others, who know better, still despair that they can’t get their much-loved pot plant to survive through the summer to bloom again the following season. To find the secrets of this beautiful plant’s survival, read on and you’ll never have to buy a new cyclamen again!
Cyclamen (the sort we enjoy as pot plants in our homes) traditionally flower indoors over the late autumn and winter months. During this period they require regular watering. As the warmer weather arrives in spring, the plants cease flower production and their leaves begin to die back.
Cool season care
Cyclamen grow from a corm (a solid mass a little like a bulb). This corm doesn’t like to be kept wet which is why you must always water the plant from below, not from above. Water your cyclamen when the flowers begins to look a little droopy or when the pots feels very light when you lift it up. Fill a bowl with water which comes halfway up the pot when you place the cyclamen container into it. Leave the cyclamen in the bowl for 3-4 hours so that water is absorbed through the drainage holes in the base of the pot.
Cyclamen prefer a temperature range of between 10 and 20°C which means they will flower happily in most living rooms and bedrooms. If you live in a very cold part of the country, however, the room with the fire or heat pump is the best place for your cyclamen – and never leave the plant on the widow ledge at night behind a closed curtain because it may get a little too cold for comfort.
Warm season care
What you do with your cyclamen over spring and summer determines whether it will live or die. During spring, when you notice the blooms ceasing and the leaves looking worse for wear, take your cyclamen (pot and all) outdoor. Place it under a hedge or spreading shrub, or some other place that is dry and shaded (just be sure to remember where you put it!).
In mid-late autumn, bring your cyclamen out of hiding. Snip off any dead leaves with clean, sharp scissors. If the top of the corm takes up more than half the diameter of container, repot the cyclamen into a larger container using fresh potting mix. (Be sure to leave the top of the corm sitting a few millimetres above soil level.) Water your cyclamen from the bottom up (see above) and bring it inside.
Beating the bugs
If the leaves on your cyclamen begin to look deformed, curled or yellow, mites may be the problem. These mites are too small to be visible. Aphids (which are visible) can also take their toll. Fortunately, both types of insect can be treated with a soap and water spray. Dissolve 1/3 tsp of bathroom soap in warm water. Add it to a spray bottle and be sure to coat both sides of the leaves with it. Repeat 2-3 times a week to control the problem.
Leaves can also turn yellow if the cyclamen is over-watered or watered from above rather than from below.