Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
December, 2010
Regional Report

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The bright flowers of this cyclamen chases away the winter blahs!

Grow Cyclamen for Winter Color

Just about the time I'm tired of the dull, gray days of winter, my cyclamen burst into bloom. Their flowers are beautiful, resembling butterflies perched on stems, with petals held high above thick, dark green leaves. At first the developing flower buds face downward, but as the petals open they sweep upward like the wings of a butterfly. You can grow cyclamen indoors or out in our gardening region; I do both. Their flowers appear in February and the plants will continue to bloom for another two or three months. Best of all, cyclamen comes in a variety of flower colors, including red, pink, salmon, white and purple. There are even some with bicolor blooms.

Cyclamen Care
Cyclamen plants are available in full bloom in garden centers beginning in January, and while they have developed a reputation for being short lived and difficult to grow, I've found that with proper care they can last for many years.

Indoors they thrive in a cool room where temperatures are 45-50 degrees F at night and 65 degrees F or lower during the day. I set my cyclamen in bright but indirect light. They seem to prefer the east-facing windowsill right above my kitchen sink. I suspect they appreciate the increased humidity from the running water. Having them there makes watering easy, and I really enjoy their company as I wash dishes. I keep the soil mixture uniformly moist and apply a soluble plant food at half strength every 2 weeks.

Cyclamen bloom reliably each winter in my outdoor garden. There they need only to be watered during the winter months if rainfall is sparse. Since cyclamen is hardy outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, I have mine massed in a perennial border where the soil drains well and they can enjoy a few hours of morning sunshine

Summer Dormancy
When the weather warms in the summer I cut off all the foliage, reduce watering, and let the plants go dormant. This summer dormant period is natural and is vital to the cyclamen's health. For 3 to 4 months the plants will need no care at all. I do water potted cyclamen about once a month, but I neglect the plants outdoors. When they have finished resting, the plants will send up new stems. As soon as I see signs of life, I begin watering on a regular basis. My plants will grow and begin flowering again in mid- to late-winter.

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Today's site banner is by nmumpton and is called "Gymnocalycium andreae"