It’s day five of the deep freeze and I’m desperate for sunshine, and any color that isn’t gray or white. If you want to cheer yourself, or find the perfect gift for a gardening friend, think about buying a cyclamen this winter. Most people think about poinsettias for the holidays, but I’m not a big fan. They are pretty for a while, but they are difficult to get to rebloom. And, another downside, they are produced in greenhouses using lots of heat and chemicals to make them ready to ship in December.
Cyclamen and Christmas cactus are much better choices for a winter flowering plant. They are both easy to get to rebloom, easy to propagate, and don’t take much heat or any chemicals to keep them happy. They’re the perfect eco-friendly houseplants and holiday flower.
I bought my first cyclamen two years ago and it is still blooming! It has hardly ever been out of bloom. Last winter I bought more. They come in many colors and the leaves are all a bit different too. Some have a little silver pattern, others are edged in silver, and some are almost all silver. The leaves are as pretty as the flowers! If you google cyclamen, you’ll get advice to let them “rest” in the summer, and I suppose you can, but here in Rye they are happy outside anytime the temperature is above freezing. In the summer I put mine under a tree, watered them now and then, and they loved it.
This picture was taken last winter. You can see some of the different colors and leaf forms. They also come in a true red and a snow white, if you like more traditional Christmas colors.
The first one that I owned was getting really big last summer. I had transplanted it into a bigger pot the first summer, and so last summer I decided to divide it. You might not realize how radical an idea that is. Cyclamen grow from a tuber, like a potato, and so they can be divided. You have to make sure you get an “eye” or growing point with each section and then you have to hope that it doesn’t get a disease in the open cut. Most cyclamen are grown from seed, and division isn’t recommended. Maybe it was beginners luck, but mine all survived the operation. I didn’t think about taking a picture until after I had already repotted them. You can sort of see the cut side of the tuber here.
That was done this past summer and a couple of weeks ago I decided to take some pictures of how they look now.
And today, with even more flowers:
Can you see the little pots to the right in the picture above? The big plants are from division, but when I started to divide them last summer, I found that they had seeded into the pots! I put all the seedlings into individual pots, too. I think it takes almost a year for them to bloom from seed, so we won’t see what the flowers look like until next summer.
I should have mentioned at the beginning that these are not hardy outside through the winter. These are all varieties of Cyclamen persicum, and are considered only hardy to zone 7 or 8, although I do know a gardener in Aurora who had one overwinter for her in her rock garden. So, not for outside, but if you want something cheerful and long blooming indoors this winter, I don’t think you could find anything better.
Oh, one more thing. These cyclamen like cool temperatures. They don’t really want to be grown in a room that gets into the 70s. That means they’re perfect for our old drafty house. They need bright light, but they don’t need a lot of sun, either, so if you have a cool room with a west or east window, give one a try.
Oh, one more one more thing….we don’t sell these. You can find them at your favorite florist’s or even King Soopers. If the seedlings I potted up do well this winter, we might have them for sale when we open in the spring. I’m mildly obsessed with them and plan to buy a couple more this winter.