Cyclamen persicum is a popular houseplant and will flower from late autumn through to spring. Often called the florists cyclamen the plants that we buy in garden centres and nurseries are hybrids of the wild species that grows naturally in Turkey and the Greek Islands. Over the years larger plants have been bred with a wide range of flower colours from white through to pink and purple. Many also have attractive silver marking on their leaves. Cyclamen persicum is grown from seed and it takes between 9-12 months from sowing to flowering. Although most people keep the plant just for the flowering period and then dispose of it, it is in fact a tuberous perennial and with a little care you can keep the plant for many years. When you buy a flowering plant, ideally it should be kept in a light, cool room. A window sill is fine as the temperature is usually a few degrees cooler which suits the plant. In a hot room the plant will quickly become leggy and the flowers soon fade. The compost should be kept moist at all times and as flowers fade the stalks need removing by pulling them off the small tuber at the base of the plant. This encourages more flower buds to develop and with care it is possible to keep a cyclamen in flower for a few months. Once flowering comes to an end in late spring, the plant should be rested by gradually allowing the compost to dry out at which point the foliage will die back. In September the tuber will start to show signs of new growth and from then on watering and feeding can start again. After several weeks the plant will be in full leaf and flowers will follow.
Jane from Harrogate has been in touch to ask why we dig vegetable plots at this time of the year?
The idea of digging over the soil is to prepare a seed or planting bed for the spring. Clay soils especially benefit from winter digging in order to allow the rain and frost time to break down the lumps of clay. Digging also helps to control annual weeds by burying them and it allows you to mix in compost or manure to improve the soil structure. Some people do however adopt a no-dig approach and simply top dress the soil with compost each year. I still think digging the soil over is the best way to create good growing conditions and of course it’s good exercise!
Paul has emailed me for information about controlling Japanese Knotweed that is growing in his son’s garden?
Japanese Knotweed is a serious perennial weed that was originally introduced in the 1800’s as an ornamental plant. Digging out isn’t very effective as the plant regrows from a smallest piece of root. Chemical control is the most effective and if your son intends to have a go himself he needs to use Glyphosate. This is applied when the plant is actively growing in May or June. The chemical is absorbed through the foliage and is taken down to the roots where it starts to kill the plant. Regrowth should be treated when there is sufficient leaf cover. It can take several years to completely eradicate the clump. There are also specialist companies that deal with the weed and they can be found on the internet. They have a wider selection of chemicals to deal with the weed, but even then it isn’t easy to get rid of.
If you have a gardening question for Martin Fish please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll print a selection of questions and answers for readers to share. Or, write to Ackrill Media Group, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate and we’ll pass on your question