Cyclamen: houseplant of the month for November
Bothered by the short days? Cyclamen’s cheerful colours will brighten your whole interior and stop you from sinking into the falling leaves blues.
Cyclamen may look dainty, but it’s a sturdy plant that grown from a chunky tuber. And it offers a great deal. The heart-shaped green leaves grow in a rosette and often have attractive silvery or pale green markings. Delicate stems emerge between the leaves on which incredible flowers then appear which stand up like flags. They can be smooth, have frills or spread out like a skirt, and they have colours that show that Mother Nature made an extra effort.
Cyclamen’s colours – bright purple, pillarbox red, all shades of pink or a mixture – mean this houseplant is perfect for the trend in which colour and silliness carry you through the dark days of winter. The plants’ playful shape allows you to achieve great effects, and by using the colours in plant arrangements, you can create lines and circles of flowers. A handcrafted base reinforces the effect, such as embroidered or woven sleeves for pots or a plastic pot that you have turned into something lovely and personal with the aid of a glue gun and some old buttons.
Cyclamen is a member of the Primula family (also known as Primrose). The plants have a natural lust for life and grow and flower vigorously. They have real staying power, and are also expressive companions. If they feel neglected, they will drop their heads pointedly straightaway. If you place them in a saucer of tepid water, they will be proudly upright again half an hour later. That gives you a real bond with your plant.
Caring for Cyclamen
- Cyclamen prefers a light, cool spot in the living room.
- Water by immersing or placing on a saucer. Throw away anything the plant hasn’t absorbed after an hour.
- Give plant food once every three weeks.
- Cyclamen can also go outside as long as it’s not freezing.
- Removing the wilted flowers encourages Cyclamen to carry on flowering.
From Persia with love
Cyclamen has been known as a decorative plant for a very long time. The species that occurs in the wild in the forests and rocky slopes around the Mediterranean from Spain to Iran is the ancestor of today’s houseplants. The philosopher Plato described the plant in the 4th century BC, and in the past the plant’s tuber was known for its laxative effect. Cyclamen arrived in Europe in the 16th century, and was cultivated in Queen Elizabeth I’s botanical gardens. The flower then fell out of favour for a while, but came back into fashion in the 19th century thanks to the Romantic movement, and has been with us ever since.
- Cyclamen, kykla in Greek, means ‘circle’ or ‘round disc’ and refers to the round tubes that the plant grows out of.
- Virtually all the Cyclamens that we know here as houseplants and garden plants are descended from Cyclamen persicum.
- The Catholic Church consider the cyclamen to be the symbol of Mary’s flowering heart.
- Cyclamen represents the empathetic, dedicated heart and for that reason it was planted around ancient monasteries and convents, ribats (the Islamic version of a monastery, a kind of walled fort) and churchyards in the countries around the Mediterranean.
- In Japan is Cyclamen is the holy flower of love.
- If you’re patient, leave Cyclamen to rest after flowering to enjoy a second round of flowers.
For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Published on: 26 October 2017