Who can resist flowering plants, particularly when they make such pleasing presents at Christmas?
Whether small or large, single-toned or a vibrant array of colours, solo, in groups or arranged with other plants, every flowering plant has its own special style. What they all have in common is they are perfect for livening up a home.
Which is where cyclamen come in. These cold-weather classics are related to primroses, and thanks to modern achievements in growing, 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. Cyclamen leaves are heart-shaped and deep green with beautiful silvery marbled patterns.
They come from the mountain regions of the Mediterranean but now they’re quite at home in British homes. They like light, bright, airy areas; not too sunny or hot. Places near a radiator should be avoided.
Cyclamen can tolerate cooler temperatures on patios, balconies and windowboxes, their colours becoming even more intense, but you’ll need to bring them in during colder spells.
Cyclamen flower from early September to the end of February (although it is possible to keep them blooming for most of the year). The unmistakable flowers are slightly bent back in a gentle curve like an upended skirt, and sit on top of long, slim stalks.
To prolong the flowering period, remove wilted cyclamen flowers and leaves from their pot with a firm pull and twist movement. In this way you can make room for new leaves and flowers and prevent the dying stems rotting the rest of the plant.
With watering and feeding, 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 after watering pour away any water which 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.
And to make sure they are really happy, repot them annually.