Sometimes the world of gardening can be turned on its head.
Right now, those cold-weather classics, cyclamen, are getting ready to dazzle by providing months of continuous colour with their fabulous flowers. They are traditionally sold during the run-up to Christmas and have become a favourite winter house plant.
Cyclamen come from the mountain regions of the Mediterranean but they’re quite at home in British homes. They normally flower from early September to the end of February, although it is possible to keep them blooming for most of the year.
In early spring, cyclamens should finish blooming and the leaves turn yellow as the plants go dormant. Then they may be put outdoors for the summer, and allowed to rest, brought back inside in September, repotted and thus be encouraged to star blooming again.
But if you repot a fully-flowering example several times a year, it may actually be in bloom every day of the year.
To prolong this flowering period (apart from that regular repotting) remove wilted cyclamen flowers and leaves and water and feed when necessary.
With watering, less is more. If the soil is too wet, the flat bulb-like tuber will start to rot. Don’t pour the water directly onto the compost; pour it into a dish or saucer, and half-an-hour later, pour away any water that is still left in the dish.
Cyclamen should only be watered when the compost in the pot no longer feels damp. Feed them every week while they are in bloom, and cyclamen will repay you with lots of flowers.
Cyclamen are a genus of plants which has 20 species, and are part of the primrose family. Thanks to modern achievements in growing, the flowers can come in mini, midi and maxi sizes and an array of colours from magenta and red to pink, white and violet.
The choice is enhanced by two-toned species and variants with fringed petals; some are even scented. Their leaves are heart-shaped and deep green with beautiful silvery marbled patterns.