This winter, I’ve treated myself to a few “winter flowers”: plants that can be forced into bloom by the warm temperatures inside a house or greenhouse. This way, I can have the pleasure of watching things grow and produce colourful flowers even though it is cold and grey outside.
In a cool, downstairs room, a Florist’s Cyclamen blooms on the windowsill. The flowers are a deep rose and the leaves are intricately patterned. These plants are cultivars of Cyclamen persicum, traditionally classified in the family Primulaceae, but in recent years reclassified in the family Myrsinaceae. Cyclamen is usually known by its scientific name but has been called by the common name “sowbread”. Apparently, hogs have been known to dig up and eat Cyclamen corms.
While these plants originated in the Mediterranean region, a few species are relatively hardy. I have grown Cyclamen coum in my own garden: they were pretty little things, but died out after a few years.Ditto for Cyclamen hederifolium (Neopolitan Cyclamen).
Florist’s Cyclamen comes in several flower colours (light pink, rose, red and white). The white flowers are beautiful, but starved as I am for colour at this time of year, this intense deep rose was a more attractive choice.
The pedicels (stalks that hold up the flower clusters) of Cyclamen tend to coil or spiral as the seeds ripen. This action brings the seed capsule closer and closer to the ground until the seeds are released. The seeds are coated with an edible substance that attracts insects who then disperse the seeds over a wider area.
J. Herbin makes a shade of ink called “Rose Cyclamen”. Whether or not you are addicted to stationery stores, as I am, it is worth a visit to this website: it is a treat in itself.
The flower symbolism associated with Cyclamen is resignation and goodbye. This makes the plant a suitable gift for someone who is retiring or moving away, although I would not like to be burdened with yet another plant when I’m in the midst of a move.
If you have a Florist’s Cyclamen that has flowered indoors and gone into dormancy, you can overwinter the plant by letting it dry out in a cool place. If it has gotten too large for its pot, this is a good time to move it to a larger pot. When leaves start to appear in the autumn, water the plant. Hopefully, it will revive itself and go on to provide indoor flowers for another winter.