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Re: Cyclamen was: Exceptional Weather Comes to an End

  • To: gardenchat@hort.net
  • Subject: Re: [CHAT] Cyclamen was: Exceptional Weather Comes to an End
  • From: "Marge Talt" mtalt@hort.net
  • Date: Thu, 6 Nov 2003 03:45:04 -0500

> From: Bonnie Holmes <holmesbm@usit.net>
> Tell me about the hardy cyclamen that bloom in the fall.  I'll bet
they
> would work here in ETN or would our climate be too humid?  I am
thinking
> about using them for Christmas flowers this year but hadn't thought
about
> varieties that would work outside.  How long do they bloom?  Are
they
> perennials?
----------
Bonnie, Cyclamen hederifolium should certainly grow for you; they
grow for me and your climate can't be more hot and humid than mine:-)
 Ellen Hornig (Seneca Hill Perennials) is in z 5b NY (has reliable
snow cover all winter) and grows the following outdoors - says all
seed around for her:

C. hederifolium
C. coum
C. purpurascens 

C. coum and hederifolium are also grown outside in Denver
successfully, with spotty snow cover.  C. hederifolium and C.
purpurascens have proven consistently hardy in Ottawa, CA (USDA z 4);
C. coum has had some damage on occasion in that person's garden.  The
above also grow in Idaho, z 5. (this info. from posts to Cyclamen
list about hardiness.)

Key to winter survival is that they are not in a wet spot.  It seems
it's not so much cold that can kill them, but wet, soggy cold.    It
also helps if they are in a somewhat protected spot, like under a
shrub or tree; not exposed to sweeping, bitter winter winds...in the
lea of a rock also helps if there aren't any bushes around, but not
in a place like the south foundation of a house in sun, where they
may get too much winter heat.  Micro climate makes a difference:-) 
They thrive under trees and shrubs because the woody roots absorb
moisture in summer when most of them are dormant and prefer it a bit
on the dry side - not desert, bone dry, as I learned the hard way,
but dryish.  They don't like soggy soil at any time of year.  Foliage
does get battered after hard winters, but the plants keep on going.

I would imagine Gene is growing all three of these.  I have C.
hederifolium and C. purpurascens in the garden; have killed C. coum a
couple of times by putting it where it got too dry and where
squirrels got to it, but have a bunch of babies (with silver pattern
leaves) that should be old enough to go in the ground in another
year.

C. hederifolium goes dormant in summer and flowers in autumn as the
weather cools a bit and the rains come.  Normally flowers before it
leafs out, but leaves form while it's still flowering.  Has
incredibly variable foliage from plain green to all sorts of lovely
silver and pewter patterns.  

C. coum is rather smaller than C. hederifolium.  The flowers are
blunter in form - cute as the dickens.  It flowers in late winter;
very early spring - like February around here.  It also goes dormant
in summer.

C. purpurascens is virtually evergreen for me and flowers most of the
summer.  I am not sure if the foliage would stay all year in your
climate, but it's a good one to have because it flowers during the
growing season when the other two are dormant.

If you have squirrels, you need to give some thought to protecting
Cyclamen tubers from them.  I have mulched my beds with pea gravel -
seems to help; also set small rocks around them and even covered new
beds with that most attractive heavy green mesh garden fencing
(ugh)...just took it off one bed this year as I couldn't stand
looking at it any more.  All the above seems to help, tho' there will
be some losses, even if you use goodly sized rocks.

Cyclamen are, IMO, about the most charming plants on the planet -
can't have too many.  I dream of swaths of them like I have seen in
assorted gardening mags...sigh.  The way to get that is to grow from
seed - they are pretty easy from fairly fresh seed; germinate in
about a month from sowing, tho' it takes a few years to get flowers -
like around 3 years for C. hederifolium - you do get the lovely
foliage from the start.  

These are small plants.  Sometimes, when you see photos of them, you
get the impression they are large, but they are not; no more than
maybe 5" to top of flower - less for C. coum - and the foliage is
maybe 3" or so tall at most...'lil guys.  You want them close to a
path where you can see them and you need to get down to ground level
to really get a close look at the flowers (well worth the effort).

The Cyclamen Society web site has lots of info. and photos of about
every species out there.  

http://www.cyclamen.org/

There is also a Cyclamen email list - unfortunately one of the Yahoo
lists (I hate mucking with Yahoo's group stuff), but you can join it
by simply sending a blank email with no subject line to:

Cyclamen-L-subscribe@yahoogroups.com 

Cyclamen are like potato chips; you can't just have one:-)

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
mtalt@hort.net
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