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Cyclamen

Common name: Sowbread

Cyclamen are native to many parts of Turkey and the Greek islands where they are found growing wild.

They have been in cultivation since the early 18th century and are quite popular as an indoor plant.

They grow and flower in the cooler months, then lie dormant during the hot summers.

Many have now been hybridised resulting in flowers that come in shades of red, pink, white, and bi-colours.



They generally bloom from September through to March depending upon variety.

Some have plain leaves, while others have marbled leaves.

If growing indoors, it is a relatively easy plant to care for, but it does need careful watering and should be in a cool position with a little shade.

Never put them in fierce sunlight, having said that, winter sunlight will not harm them.

Many people think of Cyclamen as houseplants, but you can grow the miniature hardy versions in the garden.

Cyclamen coum, neapolitanum and hederifolium are the easiest to establish outdoors and need shelter from sun, wind and frost.

Cyclamen coum flowers in February, neopolitanum, and hederifolium flower in autumn.



Plant the corms with the indentation facing upwards in groups in well drained humus rich soil, spacing the corms 100-150 mm(4"-6") apart and barely cover the corms with soil.

Annually after flowering cover them with a couple inches of leaf mould.

Most of the larger indoor hybrids have no fragrance but the miniature types may have a fine, faint scent.

The larger plants can grow to about 400mm (16") high, and miniatures to about 200mm (8").

When in flower a temperature of 10°-16°C (50°-60°F) is best, normal summer temperatures will suffice during the dormant period.

Keep leaves in good condition by cleaning them with a soft brush.

Do not use proprietary brands of leaf cleaner or sprays on cyclamen leaves.

Cyclamen grow naturally in both acidic and alkaline well drained soils.

Gritty compost is a good deterrent for vine weevil.

Cultivation

Week 4: Seed can be sown now as an alternative to later on in the year.

Treatment is the same as for summer sown seed .(see below)

Week 11: Pot up August sown seedlings into 50mm (2”) pots or cell trays containing well-drained potting compost.

Handle the plants very carefully when pricking them out of the seed tray, hold them by the leaf blades.

Attempt to get as large a root ball as possible, and take care not to bury the top of the corm.

Week 15: Gradually withhold water from plants that have finished flowering.

When the foliage has died back, remove dead foliage, and lay the pots on their sides in a cold frame or in a sheltered spot, beneath a fence or wall in the garden.

Week 23: If you have not already done so, set the pots on their sides in a sheltered spot outside to allow the foliage to die back slowly.

Week 26: During the dormant period cut the tuber in two, dip it in a fungicide and replant both halves.

Week 28: Sow commercial seed now for a display in about 14-16 months time.

Soak the seed overnight on moist paper e.g. kitchen towel, to soften the seed and promote quicker germination.

Sow the seed in good potting compost mixed with 50- 50 coarse grit (by volume)

Space the seeds about 25mm (1”) apart on level, pre-moistened compost.

Cover the seed with coarse grit and germinate in total darkness.

Germination is variable and dependent on temperature, which ideally should not exceed 17 ° C (62 ° F).

Temperatures higher than this may cause germination failure.

Seedbeds need to be kept soaking wet until the seeds germinate, but once leaves appear, ease off with the watering to prevent seedlings from damping off.

Cyclamen germination can be erratic and seedlings should be moved into small pots at the two leaf stage.

Keep seedlings on the dry side, but don't let them flag.

Set the tiny corm so that the top just shows above the compost.

Week 31: Collect seed and sow immediately, and treat as above.

Soak seed in water for 24 hours prior to sowing.

Week 33: When new leaf growth appears, repot established tubers in fresh peat moss or a peat-based potting mixture taking care not to damage the leaves, fetch the plant/s indoors and place in bright filtered light.

They should be flowering again by Christmas.

Cyclamen require high humidity, mist regularly, and stand the pot on a bed of pebbles.

Avoid wetting the tuber, water around the edge of the pot, or by standing the pot in a saucer filled with tepid water for 20 minutes.

Feed with diluted liquid plant fertilizer once a week during the growing period.

After flowering, and while the leaves remain fresh, continue to water and feed the plants.

When the leaves turn yellow, stop watering and feeding, and allow the plant/s to rest for a few months, then move them outdoors into a shady position, still in their pots.

Stand the pots on their side so that the potting mixture does not get too wet in a downpour.

Week 43: Prick out August sown seedlings at the two leaf stage, taking care not to bury the tiny corms too deeply.

Potential problems

If you find that the leaves are browning/drying at their edges and /or there are dried out spots on the leaves this could possibly be due to environmental problems e.g. too dry or direct sunlight.

Try keeping the growing area more humid by either spraying the plants with clean water, or sitting them on a saucer of wet grit/pebbles in a dapple shaded area.

In doing this, ensure the conditions don't become too cool as this could result in a bout of grey mould.

In the event of this, remove the affected leaves and spray the whole plant/s with a suitable fungicide.

Misshapen or curled up leaves should not to be confused with an aphid attack.

Check under the leaves to see if there is any aphid activity, if there is spray with a suitable insecticide.

If the problem is red spider mite it might be better to get rid of the affected plants.

Poor flowering could be a result of bad feeding i.e. either too much or too little.

Always feed to manufacturers instructions.





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