In the Garden:
Dainty hardy cyclamens are at their blooming best in early fall.
When autumn paints the world with rich golds and reds, our woodland gardens often sparkle with the pinks and whites of hardy cyclamens. Any shady spot makes a great home for these dainty, fall-blooming perennials, but the cyclamen show is not limited to the outdoors. This is also the perfect time to adopt a florist's cyclamen, which will bloom indoors all winter before taking a break in the spring.
Perfectly adapted to life beneath large shade trees, hardy cyclamens thrive in dry shade in USDA Zones 6 to 8. The plants become dormant in the summer and then emerge in full flower after the first rains of fall bring them back to life. Soil amended with rotted leaves and a dusting of lime provides the ideal environment. Properly classified as Cyclamen hederifolium and often called baby cyclamen because of its petite size, this plant is also sold under its old name of C. neopolitanum. You can set out new plants now or wait until first thing in the spring.
Chilly windowsills on the north or east side of your house in the winter make fine places to grow florist's cyclamens, which are mostly hybrids of C. persicum. You'll see these at large supermarket floral departments in many shades of pink or purple, or you can buy plants that bloom red from mail-order companies. Water the plants as needed to keep the soil lightly moist, and add an all-purpose plant food to the water every 2 weeks. You will be rewarded by flushes of exotic blooms on upright stems from now through the darkest days of winter. Watch for signs of mites and spray with insecticidal soap if you find any.
Let indoor plants dry out in spring. Water sparingly through a 2-month rest period, and then treat your plants to summer on a shady porch or patio. By next fall, they will be ready to wow you through winter again.
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