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A pot of cyclamen is a favourite winter present, but by now you might be wondering what to do with it. Don't throw it away. A cyclamen will repeat its beautiful dispaly year after year if you treat it right.
There are two kinds of cyclamen: a small, outdoor one; and a showy indoor plant. The tiny outdoor version is as hardy as a snowdrop. It is among the longest-lived of garden plants: a corm will likely outlive the gardener who planted it. It has other advantages too: it will grow under trees; does not object to a limy soil; and effortlessly brightens a cold winter garden.
The showy indoor cyclamen, sometimes called a Persian cyclamen, is a winter favourite for its elegant nodding flowers. It only disappoints when it suddenly
flops, usually as a result of too much water. Overwatering results in yellowing leaves and a soft rot developing in the stems of the flowers. Some
growers recommend avoiding this by not watering overhead. Instead, stand the pot in a few centimetres of water in a saucer or bowl. Moisture will be
absorbed through the pot. The saucer or bowl should be emptied when the plant is judged to have had enough. Some other successful growers swear by
overhead watering with weak tea. Whichever strategy you pursue, ensure your cyclamen gives just as much pleasure next winter as it did this winter,
by following these tips:
1. Keep it moist so long as it continues to flower and to carry leaves.
2. Let it dry off gradually after the last buds have opened and faded away.
3. Leave it, in its pot, unwatered, in a frost-free place during the remaining cold weeks. Leave it outside, still unwatered, in a shady place throughout
4. Kick start it back into life in March by giving it water again. It will quite quickly show new buds all over the corm. For best results the cyclamen
should now be re-potted into fresh, high-quality potting mix. Do not bury the corm; it should sit on top, three-quarters visible. Do not water too
much at first, then water more generously as autumn continues. Once it looks good, take it back inside and enjoy it all over again.
Text: Linda Ross