Gardening with Evelyn: Superstar cyclamen plus fall favorites

Everyone wants a plant that blooms for months, is easy to grow and is beautiful too.

Cyclamen fits all those requirements and more.

Evelyn Weidner

Grown outside in a shady spot your cyclamen will bloom from fall through winter and still be blooming beautifully until summer. Here are your hints for cyclamen success.

Grow cyclamen cool. They hate the heat. They are happy on your patio table or in your garden. Can you grow you cyclamen indoors? Yes, you can but because your home is cozy and warm your cyclamen will not last as long as it would outdoors. Think a month or two instead of months and months.

Give your cyclamen some shade. Morning sun is OK. Afternoon hot sun not so good.

Water and feed. Feeding is really important. A good liquid fertilizer twice a month will keep your plants happy. Depending on the weather give your cyclamen a good drink at least twice a week. Heat wave? Add an extra drink. If you forget and your cyclamen is all hanging down and wilted do this. Place your plant in a shallow pan of water and let it soak for about an hour. Watch it perk back up. In the ground, water as needed

Don’t let your plants go to seed. Pull out seeded stems straight up. Hint: The seeds look like little hard green nuts. New flower buds are soft with just a hint of the color to come.

Never plant your Cyclamen too deep. Cyclamen have a small round tuber that is hidden at the base of the leaves. If you cover up that tuber with soil you might as well have the “New Plant Blessing” and the “Memorial Service” at the same time.

Cyclamen are native to the hills of Turkey. In their native areas there are lots of species. The varieties you buy are called Florist cyclamen. They are hybridized to have lots of big flowers and a long blooming period.

Finally, cyclamen normally take a rest in the hot summer time. The leaves droop and the plant looks pretty bad. When that happens, it is not dead! Just taking a summer siesta. (Technically called a period of dormancy). Let it snooze in a corner with just a hint of moisture and watch it spring back to life in the fall.

What else belongs in your garden now?

Chrysanthemums, aka mums, are a fall favorite. These are usually garden mums with lots of smaller blooms. You can make your mum rebloom again by snipping off the flowers as they fade. Your mum is actually a perennial but most of us enjoy it at its best and then toss it away. No guilt.

One of my other favorites is the pretty Winter cactus. You may know it as a Christmas cactus. Hint. Winter cactus need to be outside in the summer in order to bloom in the winter. Spring cactus are almost the same. Both can live for years.

Fall/winter vegetables coming next.