- Author: Cheryl A Potts
When we first moved into our present home, I planned a house warming party. I needed some color in my new, rather sterile backyard and picked up some fragile appearing, color bursting plants, telling myself that all they needed to do, once planted at the bases of two sycamore trees, was survive until my guests left the backyard.
Six or seven months later, I am looking out my back window and had to ask my husband, "What is that red thing out there?" I assumed some candy wrappers had blown into the yard. Lo and behold, walking out and taking a closer look, I discovered it was my house-warming flower returned, after no care, no notice, no attention.
What were my magical returning flowers? Cyclamen (Primulaceae)! Glorious cyclamen! Perennial cyclamen! These tough soldiers go dormant in the heat of summer, but flourish in winter with flame like blooms and beautiful fringed edged, dark green, silver-molted leaves. My cyclamen blossoms are crimson, but can be found in white, pink, and pink with purple blotches.
Cyclamen can be purchased now, blooming. They do very well in our growing zone (USDA Zones 7 and above). Plant where they will not get direct sun. Under a tree, within a shady fern garden or in a semi-shaded pot are ideal. These plants can be grown from seed, but the process is slow, as the plants will not bloom for two years. When leaves are present, the plant is growing. Water when soil feels dry. As the flower begins to fade, gradually let the plant dry out as it is going into its dormant stage. Excess water will cause the tuber to rot.
New growth will appear around September. Resume watering and fertilize with a low nitrogen fertilizer every couple of weeks.
We have now lived in this home for about 12 years, and my colorful guest-impressing plants continue to give me pleasure and smiles.
IMPORTANT NOTE: According to the S.P.C.A., cyclamen is said to be toxic to dogs and cats.
- Author: Karen Norton
How to protect your succulents from frost
Now that the weather is getting colder and now that I have added succulents to my garden containers, it is important to know how to protect them from frost. Usually perennials respond to winter cold by dying to the ground. In spring, their roots send out new growth. But many succulents from mild climates don't have this adaptation, and need special care when grown where temperatures drop below 32 degrees F.
Here are some tips from succulent photojournalist and author, Debra Lee Baldwin.
-- Don't peel away dry leaves attached to a succulent's trunk or stem. They protect it from temperature extremes (cold and hot).
-- Keep succulents on the dry side. Cells that are turgid are more likely to burst when the liquid within them freezes.
-- Move potted succulents beneath a deck, tree or eaves. (I try to tuck them next to the house in corners that are covered)
-- Place pots against walls, hardscape, boulders and/or shrubs that absorb and slowly release the day's heat. South- and west-facing exposures are best.
-- Drape succulents with frost cloth (sold at nurseries) or old bed sheets. Avoid plastic, which traps moisture, doesn't let plants breathe, and intensifies sunlight.
Should your succulents become frost-burned ~
-- Remove collapsed leaves only if it's likely they'll stay moist and decay. But if they'll protect the plant from future frost, leave on and prune in spring.
-- Preserve the geometry of slender-leaved succulents (such as agaves and aloes) by trimming tip-burned leaves to a point, rather than cutting straight across.
-- Chalk it up to experience. Now you know that particular plant is vulnerable and needs a protected location. (This is my gardening style that I am trying to improve by joining the Solano Master Gardener program).