GARDENING: Time to start thinking of winter, says Brian Kidd
We all love cyclamen, Pam and I enjoyed the lovely flowers all last winter. SheÂ bought them last September,Â they were put into our cold conservatory and the blooms were wonderful right through,Â despite the bitterÂ weather.Â
They flowered right into March andÂ the reason was because they were kept cold. Cyclamen don't like being too hot.
These lovely gems were taken out of the conservatory and putÂ into the garden, still in their pots. They have been kept watered but are on a shelf so the dreaded vine weevils couldn't get into the pots.
Despite watering, the leaves have got a lot smaller and there are rounded lumps at the ends of the stemsÂ '“Â this is good news, for these little bumpsÂ are seed heads. When the pods are the size of marbles, they can be cut off and the seeds sown in early August.
Have a look at yours because this is the magic moment to prepare for the next lot of beautiful blooms which will burst roundÂ about November. Sorry to mention the autumn again.
Knock the plant out of the pot. If this seems difficult, knock the edge of the pot against the handle of a spade.
Now carefully take off all the compost from the cyclamen tuber. There will be some white roots but all the former compost must be removed.
If there are creamy white grubs, kill them immediately with a size 10. These are vine weevil grubs, robins love them but put them inÂ a saucer and let the birds feast.
We are now ready to replant the tubers and the first thing you need to do is take off every leaf.
Now get some broken pieces of clay flowerpots and place them over the holes in the base of the potsÂ to ensure good drainage.
You're now ready to replant the tubers inÂ John Innes number threeÂ compost addingÂ 20 per centÂ extra sharp sand and mix these well.
Cyclamen love a well-drained compost. Water the pots after repotting and keep them off the ground to prevent those vine weevil grubs crawling into them.
During mid-September, bring them indoors again. As I said, they will come into bloom during the autumn and will flower all winter if you keep them away from frosts and keep to a strict watering regime '“Â only do it when the compost feels dry.
What about feeding?
Give them Maxicrop Complete plant food, just a weak feed. The instructions are on the green plastic bottle so make sure you read them.
This is needed once a fortnight from October onward.
Now you might think this unusual because we don't normally give plants a feed in the autumn and winter months but cyclamen do enjoy a weak feed during the winter. Just make sure you don't overdoÂ it.
Cyclamen are a delight providing colour often when little else is flowering, especially in late winter or early spring.
The hardy ones are ideal for naturalising under trees, on banks or in a shady border.
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