Growing cyclamen

by Pippa Greenwood

This year there seems to be a lot of grey mould lurking about on cyclamen plants. Each time I make my purchases, I spend a good few minutes checking around the base of the leaves...

Cyclamen plants in terracotta potsAt this time of year I find it impossible to resist the stunning silvery patterned foliage and the striking, bright colours of cyclamen. I've never particularly liked the larger cyclamen varieties, but all of the others have much to commend them.

I find myself buying cyclamen for all areas of the house, including the windowsills and bedrooms. If you shop around you can pick them up from as little as £1.99. And to add to the impact of the foliage and the flowers, many vareities now have a delicate perfume. It's sharp, lemony and ever-so-slightly sweet - I love it.

This year there seems to be a lot of grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) lurking about on cyclamen plants. Each time I make my purchases, I spend a good few minutes checking around the base of the leaves for signs of deteriorating foliage, or, worse still, fuzzy greyish brown fungal growth. It may look as if I'm rather obsessive (and possibly a bit mean), but I’d say it was time well spent – after all, not only do I not want a sickly plant, but I don't want grey mould coming into my house and infecting my existing cyclamen residents. I've a strict rule: if in doubt, pay out nowt!

Despite my efforts, one cyclamen in my bathroom did get a bit mouldy. So I carefully pulled out the dead flower stem, and then watered sparingly from the base only to prevent any mould spreading. I recommend filling the saucer with tepid water, allowing it to be taken up by the plant for a few minutes and then draining off any excess. That, combined with cooler windowsills and regular and prompt removal of faded flower stems and leaves, should be enough to stop grey mould in its tracks.


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Gardeners' World Web User 20/12/2010 at 23:43

Kates post on rats gets over 40 comments, James gets a comment within 3 hours on his post about parsnips, and Adam gets hundreds on his two with the Monty Don debate, but your post Pippa, which is about plants, gets ignored. Well don't despair, I found your post very interesting and have inspected all my cyclamen for grey mould, (none found) and would not purchase a new one without giving it the third degree. Thanks for the advice, have a great Christmas and a successful New Year.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/12/2010 at 00:30

Don't take offence Pipa, as imformative as ever. As HeavyHorse I found your article very interesting indeed. Going off topic...I'd love to see you return to our screens on GW, but that's another story :-)

Gardeners' World Web User 21/12/2010 at 00:32

Pippa!!! Wish I would proof read before posting :-(

Gardeners' World Web User 21/12/2010 at 09:10

I'm afraid the grey mould issue is for the cossetted cyclamen cultivars (there's a poem there) and people who buy in bulk for mass effect. I love the hardy species cyclamen and have no troubles with them except perhaps when they seed overenthusiastically into paths. People who grow lots of hellebores also hae trouble with black death if they do not spread them out a bit. Makes you think nature knows best, Pippa, and large greenhouses with thousands of plants in them are not what cyclamen plants like. Perhaps we should be prepared to pay a bit more for healthier stock. but I do hope your warning has made purchasers more wary as it is dreadful to watch such a lovely plant as a cyclamen die. And the species are so endangered in the wild more people need to be encouraged to grow them. I too would like to see you back on TV (Perhaps an artistic veg. garden?). Happy Christmas.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/12/2010 at 17:14

Happy Christmas to all gardeners world presenters and all behind the scence workers.looking forward to the programme starting again soon.

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