Cyclamen persicum 10-15°C/50-60°F; Syria

When purchasing cyclamen it is important to select those that are of full appearance and to avoid those that have a soft look about them. In particular it is wise to remove plants from protective paper sleeves before purchasing. The latter exercise will allow you to inspect the plant from underneath and to see that there are plenty of flower buds in evidence which will provide the flowers of the future.

Cyclamens are among the most popular, albeit difficult plants for winter flowering. They have attractive dark green rounded leaves, marbled with white or silver, and the scented, pink, mauve, crimson or white flowers are carried high above the foliage.

They are very much better in a room or entrance hall where the conditions are light, airy and, above all, not excessively hot. Much is said, and often rightly so, about the danger of placing plants in positions where they are likely to be in a cold draught, but it is seldom that a cyclamen objects to windows being opened when weather conditions permit. In moderately cool rooms plants will remain in flower for very much longer and will have a generally more healthy look about them than they do when exposed to hot, airless conditions.

Water cyclamen by standing the pot in water to avoid pouring water in among the leaves, but be sure the space between the rim of the pot and the surface of the mixture is well filled with water each time so that the roots are thoroughly wetted. Allow the mixture to dry a little between each watering; water left on the surface may cause rotting of the conn with subsequent rapid death.

When flowers are over and foliage turns yellow, cyclamen can be put out of doors and pots placed on their sides so that the mixture remains dry. When new growth is noticed in the centre of the corm the old mixture should be completely removed and the plant potted up freshly, and watering and feeding restarted. Cyclamens are difficult to keep growing from year to year but it is worth trying.

Propagation is by seed, which germinates quite readily in a little heat and humidity.

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