Growing Cyclamen purpurascens in an uncongenial climate

Rodger Whitlock
Sun, 24 Aug 2014 15:11:10 PDT
For years I've unsuccessfully attempted Cyclamen purpurascens here in Victoria, 
BC and can finally report some success.

I understand C. p. to be largely a plant of Central Europe: Czechia, perhaps 
Slovakia and Poland, with populations in northern Italy as well. In captivity, 
so I have read, it thrives in Chicago gardens, but here in Victoria the 
combination of bone dry summers, dripping wet winters, and (in my own garden) 
heavy, poorly drained soil has caused seedlings to repeatedlybtake one look 
around after being planted out, then depart for the heavenly compost pile.

Until now.

My house has a small masonry planter to the right of the carport, perhaps 3' 
long front to back, 1' wide, and 2' deep. Its purpose appears to be to prevent 
cars entering the carport from taking out a support post on the front right of 
the entrance. There is narrow roof extension over that planter, and it gets 
little direct sun, being north facing and shaded from the west by a large 
Cedrus deodora. The planter is filled with reasonably well drained soil, and 
gets watered regularly during our summer drought.

As I write, three specimens of C. p. are flowering in that planter for the 
secnd or third year in succession. One of these came from the late Daphne 
Guernsey's garden, the other two are seedlings.

Essentially, that small planter enjoys a climate with an annual precipitation 
pattern exactly reverse to Victoria's, dryish in winter (thanks to the roof 
projection), moist in summer. In addition it's in deep enough shade that the 
soil is not overheated by the sun in summer.

Note that the temperature regime in that planter is Victoria's usual mild 
maritime climate; summer temperatures rarely over 75F, winter temperatures 
hovring day and night around 42F, with occasional excursions to below freezing.

Luck? Probably. Skill? No, just dumb luck finally siting C. p. in the one spot 
in my garden suitable for it.

Others in Mediterranean climates may want to emulate the conditions my C. p. 
have; success may yet be yours.

Questions and comments welcome, as always, but please reply publicly via the 
mailing list, not privately.
Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Z. 7-8, cool Mediterranean climate

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