When shorter days mean less time outside it makes sense to bring nature closer and make the most of potted plants in and around the home.
Fresh flowers make a room look loved in a way that fakes can never match. If you want something that lasts longer than a bunch of cut flowers, you can’t beat a beautiful flowering cyclamen for the cooler months of the year.
Mini cyclamen perform well in outdoor pots and the garden. With attractive foliage topped with dainty flowers these dependable little perennials grow from bulb-like structures called corms. Today’s modern minis are the result of extensive breeding to develop tough, prolific and long flowering plants for autumn and winter gardens. Choose pristine white or rich lipstick tones of pink, red and purple. Place them where they get good light but protection from weather extremes such as heavy rain, hail, hot sun and frost.
Favourite indoor plants for winter, delicate looking cyclamen are actually very tough. They originate from Mediterranean climates where winters are cold and summers are dry.
Place in bright indirect light, away from direct sun. An unheated room is ideal, as cool temperatures prolong flowering.
On the dry side
Keep the potting mix moist but not wet. Watering from the base of the plant, via the saucer, avoids wetting the corm, which is susceptible to disease.
Signs of stress
A yellow leaf is the first sign of too much water. If this happens, let the potting mix dry out for a couple of weeks (not to wilting stage), then resume cautious watering. A thirsty cyclamen plant will shed its lower leaves and flowers, but retains its newest leaves most vital to survival.
Remove spent blooms by holding the stem close to its base and giving a sharp pull to break it cleanly from the corm. Decaying left over stems invite disease.
At the end of winter the flowers and leaves die down, you can keep your cyclamen plant going if the corm is kept dry. Put the pot outdoors for summer, turned on its side. In autumn repot into fresh potting mix and resume watering. Once the leaves appear, feed fortnightly with diluted liquid fertiliser until the flower buds begin to form.