Question: I received as a gift a "European basket" from a local nursery that includes a cyclamen in the front. I've put the basket in a location that is lit but out of direct sunlight. The house is usually cool until I arrive home after work, then the heater is turned on to about 68 degrees until morning. I'm still trying to get a handle on the right watering technique for the arrangement; most of the other plants seem to be doing well, but the cyclamen stopped flowering, sent up a few leggy small leaves, and now is completely wilting. A few of the leaves seemed mushy toward the base. Is it going dormant or am I damaging it? How do I water this basket of indoor plants? It's such a striking arrangement I'd hate to lose it.
Answer: I'd venture that your cyclamen should not be part of your plant collection, but planted and cared for separately. Florists' cyclamens such as yours are lovely but can be very difficult to keep over time, mainly because they need much cooler temperatures (say ideally 45 degrees at night and 55 degrees in the day) than most homes offer, along with far more humidity than is commonly found. Ideally the blooms can last for several months -- but they rarely do at home! In any case, try to give it a cool bright location with high humidity for the best results and keep it evenly moist but not sopping wet.
Normally the plants go dormant in the spring after blooming. At some point your plant will begin to yellow and go dormant. This is what it sounds like is happening now, but just when they will go dormant is 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. When it begins to go dormant, stop watering and allow it to dry, then remove any dried stems and foliage, and set it somewhere cool but not freezing to rest (such as a cool basement) until about September. Next, repot it into a very rich and humusy soil and start watering it again. Use a dilute water soluble fertilizer and take care to keep the crown dry. At home, an east window is probably best. With any luck, starting it under "cool greenhouse" conditions in October should give blooms around Christmas. Good luck with your cyclamen!
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