A bright spot in winter needs certain care

Cyclamen persicum often called florists cyclamen is an indoor blooming plant that can be easily found in your local grocery store and garden center beginning in late fall and throughout the winter months. Its cultivars are white, shades of pink, purple and red. The beautiful blooms are smooth and frilly with varying heart shaped leaf patterns that make this plant unique.

Indoor cyclamen is a tender variety in a genus of perennials native to Europe and the Mediterranean. Some hardy varieties can be grown in our region. Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen purpurescens are just a couple of varieties that bloom from late winter to summer. Cyclamen are grown from tubers that are often confused as corms, which have a papery outer layer. Cyclamen persicum prefers a cool, humid environment. Daytime temperatures should not exceed more than 68 degrees during the day. Temperatures above that can force the plant to go dormant and stop blooming. Nighttime temperatures should not go below 40 to 45 degrees.

Provide the plant with bright to medium indirect light. I usually place my plants in a northeastern window that has strong morning light. Watering can be a little tricky, they tend to be sensitive to too much water or too little. When soil is dry and pot feels light its time to water. I recommend watering the plant from the bottom and allow the roots to take up the water that way you keep the center tuber dry. Over watering can cause the tuber to rot and the leaves to become soft and rotted as well. Fertilize once a month with a water soluble houseplant food at 1/2 the recommended rate. Too much will effect any future blooming.

Cyclamen will keep blooming well into February and early March. To keep plants blooming dead head spent blossoms to encourage future blooms. When Cyclamen is completely finished blooming stop watering and allow the leaves to die off. Leaves will turn yellow and brown and begin to shed. Place the plant in a cool, low lit area and begin decreasing daylight hours. Be sure to remove any dead foliage and allow plant to dry out. Plant will go into dormancy for a couple of months, during the spring and summer. After dormancy water plant thoroughly and repot using a sterile all purpose potting soil. Once plant begins to produce leaves, place in a cool sunny window and watch it bloom for another season.


Forcing Bulbs Indoors

DSC_9471Spring can’t come fast enough for myself and my friends who love to garden. Forcing bulbs indoors during the winter is the perfect excuse to get our hands dirty and do some gardening. Here are a few things to remember if you are planning to force flowering bulbs.

Fooling mother nature is not as hard as you think. To force spring bulbs in January and February you have to plan in the autumn. If you have purchased already bulbs you may notice that the package is labeled “prechilled”. if they are not chill bulbs for approximately 10-15 weeks at 35-45 degrees depending on the type of bulbs. Place bulbs in a cold dry place, like an unheated basement or even a refrigerator. Once they are planted blooming occurs in 10-12 weeks. Amaryllis and paperwhites don’t need to be prechilled, they prefer cooler temps to set roots and flower in 6-8 weeks.

1. Plan ahead. Purchase bulbs in fall from a local nursery or garden center. Look for bulbs that are “prechilled” to save yourself some time.

2. Planting. When bulbs are ready to plant use an all-purpose potting mix and a pot that is twice as wide as it is deep with drainage hole. Fill pot half way with soil. Place bulbs in pot. The number of bulbs you plant is determined by the width of the pot. Leave space between each bulb to allow room for growth. Lightly cover top of bulbs with potting soil leaving the tips of the bulbs above the soil. Water in bulbs.

3. Re-locate once bulbs have been chilled and begin to show green tips place in a warm sunny location.

4. Check watering occasionally keeping in mind that bulbs do not like heavy wet soil. Make sure soil dries between waterings.

DSC_9455Growing bulbs in water.

If you are planting in water add stones to help stabilize the bulbs when they set roots. If you are using a bulb forcing jar you don’t need stones. Leave the neck of the bulb above water,.

Remember when forcing bulbs to schedule the time you want the bulbs to bloom. For January bloom time be sure to chill bulbs in September. For February and March bloom time chill bulbs in October and early November.