Bay Area Plant Pick: Cyclamen

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Cyclamen love cool weather and will happily blossom from September to May. They are perfect for containers or dry shade areas. Indoors they prefer a well-lit, cooler room. The butterfly shaped flowers grow in large, intermediate and mini sizes in red, white, pink, rose, lilac, salmon and purple. The foliage is often variegated with white or silver markings. These plants are ideal for creating holiday ambiance at your front door (Poinsettias dislike being outside in Northern California).

Cyclamen are grown from a bulb like structure called a corm. When planting, the corm should be at least ½ way out of the soil as they will rot if buried. Plants like to dry out between waterings. When the surface of the soil looks dry, it is time to water. Some gardeners will let them wilt slightly before watering but this habit can stress the plant, leading to prematurely yellowing leaves. Feed monthly with a liquid bloom formula such as Maxsea 3-20-20.

During the warm weather months, cyclamen go dormant. As the days become longer, they will bloom less and less, eventually stopping altogether. Do not be alarmed that the leaves begin to shrivel and die. This is normal. Keep the corms dry during the summer; this is why they are adapted to dry shade. They will begin to re-sprout again towards the end of August, ready to start another cycle.


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