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Wit and wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac, always 'useful, with a pleasant degree of humor'.

CYCLAMENS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

For a unique alternative to the traditional holiday poinsettia or Christmas cactus, and an attractive easy-care houseplant that will bloom continuously throughout winter, you may want to consider giving florists' cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum) a try. These plants offer an array of showy, brightly colored flowers in white, vivid red, pink, purple and bicolor.

Given the right conditions, cyclamens brought in to bloom for the holiday season will continue blossoming for two to three months. As each flower fades, remove the entire flower stalk from where it attaches to the tuber by giving it a sharp tug. The trick to growing healthy cyclamens is to keep them in a cool room with bright light and good air circulation. Day temperatures of 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and nights at 50 to 55 are ideal. If your house is warm, keep your plants by a cool window. When watering, don't get the plant itself wet, but instead place each pot in a saucer of water for about 5 minutes, or until the soil is uniformly moist. While cyclamens are in bloom, feed them every other week with a half-strength portion of liquid houseplant fertilizer.

In early spring, gradually reduce water until June. Set the plants outside in partial shade, and water and feed regularly. Bring them back inside in early fall. They will usually start producing new leaves and flower buds soon thereafter, and thus you will have recycled your cyclamens.

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Title Annotation:Facts & Folklore
Publication:Grit
Date:Nov 1, 2015
Words:243
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