Hardy Cyclamen: Miniature Gems
A well-chosen selection of dainty hardy Cyclamen will bring a woodland feel to a shady corner, providing a show of delicate jewel-likefrom Autumn to late Spring.
Hardy Cyclamen must be the most pleasing of dwarf plants that are suitable for shady sites in the garden. The charm of their delicate pink, carmine or white flowers is matched by the beauty of their fine, marbled foliage.
A jewelled carpet
These charming miniatures will soon form a dainty carpet of jewel-like flowers, popping up between dead leaves, at some of the most inhospitable times of the year. A handful of well-selected species, planted in a rustic tub with an attractive log or piece of bark, will not only bring a woodland feel to a shady corner of the patio, but could provide a show of delicate colour for much of the year.
Fresh or dormant?
Cyclamen can be bought as dormant tubers or as plants. Tubers usually take a season or two to become established, but if you do buy them, plant them 2.5cm (1in) deep between July and September, mulching around the plants with leaf mould.
Cyclamen require a humus-rich, well-drained compost, so a mixture of a proprietary loam-based compost and some leaf mould or manure is ideal. These plants thrive in a shady spot.
PICK AND PLANT
A seasonal choice
Suitable hardy Cyclamen for this sort of display include: Autumn-flowering species
C. cyprium – the sweetly-scented blooms are white with a carmine ‘mouth’; heart-shaped leaves have toothed edges and dark patterning.
C. graecum – the heart-shaped, velvet-textured leaves are marbled in silver or light green; flowers are pink or white with purple ‘mouths’.
C. hederifolium – also sold as C. neapolitanum; this popular species has pale to dark pink flowers, and the Ivy-like leaves have silver or green patterning. C. hederifolium var. album – a pure white form of the above; flowers appear before or with the leaves.
C. mirabile – pale pink blooms with dark purple ‘mouths’, atop heart-shaped leaves with toothed margins and purple undersides.
C. purpurascens – one of the earliest of the Autumn-flowering Cyclamen, with rounded, silver-patterned leaves and fragrant, pink or purple flowers.
C. coum – the rounded, deep green leaves are sometimes marbled; flower colours may be carmine, pink or white.
C. creticum – the heart-shaped, rich green leaves are a perfect foil for the pure white, fragrant flowers.
C. pseudibericum – the carmine or purple blooms have dark stains and white-rimmed mouths; leaves have toothed edges and silver or dark patterning.
C. repandum – a species with very slender, fragrant flowers in red or purple; the leaves are very jagged and patterned.
C. trochopteranthum -the musty-scented flowers have unusual twisted petals in carmine or white with dark mouths. The rounded leaves are zoned in silver.
Preparing the Tub
Spread crocks over the bottom of the tub to prevent waterlogging and cover theholes to prevent compost from leaching out during watering. The tub should be stood on bricks or tiles in its final position to improve the drainage.
Cyclamen require a humus-rich, free-draining compost: measure out two parts of a very free-draining compost and one part of organic matter, such as leaf mould or manure, and combine well until the ingredients are evenly mixed.
Trowel the compost mixture into the tub, taking care not to dislodge the crocks in the bottom. Make sure the compost gets into all the corners of the tub, filling it to within 2.5cm (1in) of the rim. Firm lightly with your hands to form a level surface.
Choose an attractive log, or a gnarled branch or piece of bark, and arrange it on top of the compost. If you are using a large or cylindrical log, set it in the compost so that only one side is visible: aim for as natural a look as possible.
Planting the Tub
Remove the Hardy Cyclamen from their pots by turning them upside down and squeezing each pot gently until the rootball is released. Hold the plant carefully around its crown to support it and try to keep the rootball intact if possible.
When handling the plants, take care not to damage the brittle leaf or flower stems: they will break easily. Plant the Cyclamen to the same depth as they were in their pots, spacing them far enough apart to give them room to spread.
Firm compost gently back around the plants, taking care not to bury any delicate shoots or swamp the crowns of the plants in compost. Add more compost mixture to the tub if necessary, aiming for a level surface, and firm all over to finish.
Water the tub thoroughly to help the plants become established more quickly: aim to keep the compost constantly moist, but not soggy, at all times. If possible, when watering, try to avoid wetting the tubers, which are liable to rot if kept too wet.