In the Garden: Cyclamens
Sharon: Cyclamens are a great way to add color to the winter!
Charlie: Yes, you see a lot of them in garden centers and florist shops and they do add a lot of color and they can flower for months if you do it right! There's a lot of different colors; white ones, pink ones, bicolored ones. The nice thing about cyclamens is that the leaves are attractive, too. They're heart-shaped and they have this nice little white area on them, so it adds a nice interest to them even when they aren't flowering.
Sharon: They are!
Charlie: But if you have a cool room, maybe 60F degrees or so, these will flower for about three months right through the winter.
Sharon: They like it cool.
Charlie: They like it cool. And you also have to keep deadheading them. Pinch off the flowers as they go by and they will just keep coming back and back. Another key is they have little tubers at the bottom. That's how they grow. So if for some reason they get really ratty, they get insects on them or you forgot to water them and they died back, you can just cut the whole plant back and they will sprout up again.
Sharon: No kidding!
Charlie: Yes! Now, when you are watering, the best thing to do is put them in a basin of water. Don't water from the top. That way they'll soak up that moisture through the drainage holes. Just leave them there for an hour or two. Do that once or twice a week and they'll be very happy. A problem people have with cyclamens is that they try to make them a year-round plant and they don't want to do that. They'll go dormant in the spring and summer. So in the spring, cut them way back, put them down in the basement somewhere without watering or put them outside in a shady spot and just leave them. They'll stay dormant. Then in late summer, they'll start growing again. Bring them back inside and bam, you've got another flower show next year!
Sharon: I love a plant that gives you a second chance!
Charlie: Yes! One word of caution though, cyclamen are toxic to pets and people. So you want to make sure if you have kids or pets, to put the plants up high so no one can get them.