How Does Your Garden Grow? – December 2014

Cyclamen with variegated leaves

Cyclamen with variegated leaves

Louise Grabell

Christmas is coming and we are surrounded by the brilliant colors of Christmas plants. Interestingly, about the only true Christmas plant is the poinsettia as its colorful brachts really do appear around the holidays. Amaryllis normally blooms in early spring and grows quite nicely here in the high desert. If you grow one over the holidays, don’t throw it away! Let the new leaves grow in a sunny window and around March plant it in your yard.

Finally, there are the gorgeous displays of cyclamen in pink, white, fuchsia and all shades in between.

Cyclamen, a European native from the Mediterranean region, is a tuberous plant from which the leaves start to appear in autumn. The leaves of some species have gorgeous variegations that make the plant attractive even without the flowers. The tubers are relatively small, spherical and somewhat flattened and fit nicely in containers.

Each leaf and flower grows from its own bud on the top of the tuber. These growing points are called floral trunks, much like the buds on a potato which is also a tuber! The flowers form at the end of a stem that is bent over 180 degrees so the center of the flower points down while the petals point up. I am certain there is an evolutionary explanation for this strange growth adaptation, but I don’t know what it is! Anyway, you will be blessed for at least a month, maybe more, with the flowers of cyclamen.

Cyclamen persicum is the species most commonly sold in stores. Its maximum height is about 8” so it makes a great centerpiece for the holiday table. Water regularly and make sure the water does not touch the leaves. Once flowering stops, the leaves will die and your cyclamen will enter its dormant stage. Keep the tuber relatively dry until the fall and then wake it up with water to start the cycle once again.

The Master Gardeners of SaddleBrooke have a website: for all up to date information and events for our community. Garden questions? You can reach our SaddleBrooke Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 520-407-6459. Your phone call will be forwarded to a Master Gardener Volunteer who will assist you in the solution of your problem.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Jeffrey C. Silvertooth, Director, Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Arizona.

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