The days are warming up and so are the willingness to start working our gardens and plots. During the few warm days this week, I started putting my backyard in shape again. With the cold weather, the grass die out and the roses dormant, there is a lot to do during February.
To begin the removal of unwanted plants and overgrowth as well as non-used containers and structures needing to get discarded to make room for spring. This week you should find primroses and cyclamen at full bloom. These two ornamental plants adapted to cold weather carry color in the winter (cyclamen) and early warm days of spring (primrose).
As I was going thru our Texas A&M AgriLife archives, I run into this information from Brenda Orbaugh, a Master Gardener that wrote “If you think all tropicals are too much of a diva to be grown as a house plant indoors year round, let me introduce you to Cyclamen persicum. Everybody loves the bright colors of cyclamens, but for a long time I was afraid of them. After all, don’t they require lots of care, perfect humidity, fertilizing etc. indoors? I now know that this plant is for everybody, even busy folks like me.
One dark cold day in December, I stumbled across a display of cyclamen. You know, the plants alongside the poinsettias that you see every Christmas? Beautiful variegated heart shaped leaves and flowers with upswept petals that look like velvet, why, who could resist? So I bought one thinking, “This little beauty will lift my spirits so I’ll just enjoy it until it dies in a few weeks.” This cyclamen had other plans, let me tell you! I placed it in my dining room window where it would get indirect southern light and most nights I emptied my water glass on it as I cleared the table. Each night at dinner, I would think, “Surely this gorgeous floral display will not go on much longer.” But it did. Now beside the profusion of sweet red flowers, (this plant is also available in pink and white, but I can only vouch for the red) the other thing I noticed and love about this plant is how forgiving it is. During one of those whirlwind kind of weeks where I hardly saw my dining room table I found it drooping and looking half dead, all its beautiful red flowers crispy and brown. I hurriedly threw water on it, thinking it was a goner, but what do you know?
The next day it had perked back up, so I removed the dead blossoms and within a few weeks that plant had replaced the dead leaves and had a new crop of buds. Now I try to keep a better eye on it and when it starts to droop I give it a drink from my water glass. This plant is in bloom nearly 365 days a year. And did I mention I have never fertilized it?. Keep your eyes open for a cyclamen at your local retailer. When you find one, place it in a location with good light but not a baking west sun, and keep it moist but not soggy. And remember, it is very forgiving so if you neglect it occasionally, don’t despair. It will perk back up and reward you with cheery floral display. I have yet to find any other houseplant that is so forgiving, has beautiful foliage, needs no fertilizer and blooms almost non-stop. It’s a keeper!”.
For more information on this or any other agricultural topic, please contact the Hopkins County Extension Office at 903-885-3443 or email me at [email protected]