It's midsummer, so let's start preparing for winter, says Brian Kidd
How on earth did that happen? It’s amazing, but we are half way through another year already.But we gardeners plan ahead all the time so a lovely little job in the next few days is to repot cyclamen to get them into flower again during the winter.
The first thing to do is to knock the old plant out of its pot and then wash the pot thoroughly and allow it to dry.
Keep the crocks, which should be in the base of the pot, so that they too can be washed.
If there were no crocks, try to find some pieces of broken clay flowerpot and break them up so that a few pieces can be put into the bottom of the pot covering the drainage hole. This ensures the compost will always be well drained and not washed out through that hole.
We now have to be quite firm with the plant.
Remove all the old leaves and roll the plant so that all the old compost falls away. The old compost can be put into the compost bin.
Make a close examination of the base of the tuber looking for any creamy white grubs.
Should you spot any give them a quick size eight because they are the grubs of the vine weevil which eats the roots causing sudden collapse when the plant is at its best.
The cyclamen should now be repotted into John Innes No3 compost to which is added 10 per cent extra sharp sand.
This will ensure the compost will be well drained. If John Innes compost isn’t available, use any good quality loamless compost.
The tuber needs to be half way out of the surface of the compost and space is also needed to allow for watering. I use my thumbnail as a good guide, a tip I was taught during my apprenticeship.
The compost is now watered. Most gardeners put the plant into a deep saucer containing water and leave it for an hour after which the pot is removed. Never keep water in the saucer all the time as it stagnates.
Now place the pot in a light cool spot out of direct sun and within a couple of weeks new leaves will appear.
Cyclamen love to be grown in plenty of light because this ensures the leaf stems are kept at the correct length.
If the plant is grown in a dark area, the leaves and flowers will have stems which are too long. This phenomenon is called etiolation.
Water when the compost feels dry to the touch.
Keep the plant in a place free from frost but cool for a long period of flowering.
A liquid feed, such as the one you use for tomatoes, is added to the water six weeks after the repotting and a feed once a fortnight is a good idea but not after October.
Last autumn, Pam bought three plants in October.
They were in bud and once they came into bloom they were marvellous right up until the end of February. They were grown in the cold conservatory and even survived all that cold weather.
Cool is best!
THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP
This is an excellent time to sow wallflower seeds directly into the garden. The soil is nice and moist and if we have a shower they will germinate quickly.