The Q&A Archives: Gift Plants

Question: For Valentine's Day I received 2 potted plants in full bloom; a red cyclamen and a purple hyacinth. What is the best way to care for them? Will I be able to get them to bloom again?

Answer: Your hyacinth flower will fade and the flowering stem should be cut away but the foliage should be allowed to ripen (turn yellow). Once this has happened you can either dig the bulb up and store it until it's time to replant in the fall, or you can leave the bulb in the soil and store the pot over the summer months. Don't water until fall, at which time you can set the pot in a shady area outdoors. Be sure to water regularly from fall until late spring, when the foliage begins to die down.

If your Cyclamen was sold as a potted plant, it is almost certainly a florist's cultivar derived from Cyclamen persicum. They basically do their growing in the fall, winter and spring, and are dormant in the summer. Just when they go dormant will be determined to some extent by the conditions under which they are growing. Too much heat in a sunny window, for instance, will encourage early dormancy, while growing in light, but cool conditions may see them continuing into mid-May. Take cues from your plant...when the leaves have gone yellow, withhold water and let it rest until September. Keep the pot in a cool place if possible and dry - but not so dry that the compost will never wet again. Begin regular watering when new growth emerges from the crown of the plant.

Best wishes with your new plants!

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