GARDENING: Time to start thinking of winter, says Brian Kidd

Cyclamen, often the only bright spot in the garden in winter.
Cyclamen, often the only bright spot in the garden in winter.
Now's the time to take six-inch cuttings of indoor pelargoniums.

GARDENING: Jobs for the weekend with Brian Kidd

0
Have your say

We all love cyclamen, Pam and I enjoyed the lovely flowers all last winter. She bought them last September, they were put into our cold conservatory and the blooms were wonderful right through, despite the bitter weather. 

They flowered right into March and 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 put 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 stems  – this is good news, for these little bumps 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 round 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 in 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 pots to ensure good drainage.

You’re now ready to replant the tubers in John Innes number three compost adding 20 per cent 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 – 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 overdo 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.

THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP

This is the time to sow wallflower seeds, a job often forgotten. Sow the seeds thinly in rows 12 inches apart somewhere outdoors. Try to sow the seeds after rain as moist soil is ideal for quick germination.