TOW: Growing tender bulbs in cold climates

J.E. Shields
Tue, 08 Apr 2003 06:48:22 PDT
Hi all,

I've been doing this, or trying to do this, for 30 years.  There are 
hazards and pitfalls, as has already been pointed out by Roger and Mark.

We are at latitude 40° North so our winter sun is a lot weaker than the 
winter sun at the latitude of Cape Town.  Our Lachenalia plants get too 
warm and not enough sunlight sometimes, resulting in rather etiolated 
scapes.  Haemanthus seem to take an eternity to grow to bloom size.  On the 
other hand, our Clivia plants do well with little or no shading during 
December and January here.  this seems to be further evidence that our 
winter sunlight is relatively weak.

Cyclamen do not do terribly well outdoors here.  Cyclamen coum and 
hederifolium have survived in the ground in some places, at least for a few 
years.  C. hederifolium even blooms a bit in autumn growing in the ground; 
C. coum outdoors in the ground rarely manages to put up more than an 
occasional leaf, and no flowers.

In the greenhouse, it is an entirely different matter.  They thrive in the 
cool greenhouse alongside the etiolated Lachenalia and slow Haemanthus.  In 
late summer and autumn, pots of hederifloium are a great joy.  CC. cilicium 
and graecum bloom in late autumn, for a relatively shorter time.  In 
December or January, C, coum takes over from hederifolium to produce 
abundant cyclamen bloom in the greenhouse.

Right now I have only CC. purpurescens and repandum repandum in 
bloom.  Actually, there is some question about the identity of the C. 

I have posted a picture of my Cyclamen purpurescens at URL =…  along with an image 
of Cyclamen colchicum growing in the same greenhouse.

The C. purpurescens was grown from seed from Joy Bishop, and it bloomed 
first in only about 18 months from sowing.  It was planted in September 
2000.  This year is its second bloom season.  The leaves, as shown in the 
image, have silver mottling.  The flowers are large, compared to the C. 
colchicum (petals ca. 1 inch long in purpurescens vs. ca. ½ inch in 
colchicum).  From start of bloom, in 2002, these plants bloomed well into 
December.  They then went dormant for a couple of months, but now they are 
blooming again.

Dormant storage of tender bulbs is another matter.  The cyclamen seem to do 
best when stored under the benches in the lath house during summer.  They 
do not seem to take drying out too completely or for prolonged periods.

Jim Shields
in central Indiana (USA)

Jim Shields             USDA Zone 5             Shields Gardens, Ltd.
P.O. Box 92              WWW:
Westfield, Indiana 46074, USA                   Tel. +1-317-896-3925

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