I love this time of year when the indoor cyclamen are arriving at the garden centre again, even if it does herald the start of the colder months. The colours are so cheerful and really brighten up the darker winter months.
The main requirements for achieving success with cyclamen are cool and light conditions. Put one in a centrally heated room and it will soon show its discomfort in the form of yellowing, drooping foliage. A bright enclosed cool room is the best place for a cyclamen so porches or conservatories, which have little or no heating during the winter, are ideal. Cyclamen grown this way should provide blooms well into the new year.
Watering needs a little extra care with cyclamen as these plants hate soggy feet (I think most of us would agree with that one!). The trick is to allow the surface of the compost to dry out before applying water, even to the stage where the flower stems are starting to droop a little. Water carefully onto the surface of the compost so that the foliage and the centre of the plant are not left too wet. A cyclamen grows from a corm, which is like a hard, flat bulb, so excessive watering into the centre can cause rotting.
Remove fading flowers and foliage regularly to help prevent disease and to prolong the flowering period. The best way to remove the flower is to twist the stem slightly and give a sharp tug. This way the stalk should come away cleanly from the base and not leave any bits which could start to rot back into the corm.
The flower colour choices seem to increase every year and there is sure to be something to suit all tastes. Some cyclamen even have frilly petals. The miniature varieties are particularly suited to grouping together in bowls or baskets and would make an attractive gift.