Q&A: Starting Cyclamen From Seed

Question:
I’ve tried four times to grow cyclamen from seed. Each time, they’ll start to germinate but wither away shortly after that. Do you know of a sure-proof way to succeed with this?—P.T., Little Rock, Ark.
 
Answer:

Cyclamen is among the toughest, as it puts up with heat, considerable cold, deep shade and shallow soil. Follow these steps from Gardening in the Shade: From the Editors of Horticulture to germinate this shade-winner from seed:

Start with a light lidded container, such as one for margarine or Cool Whip. Poke drainage holes in the bottom and fill the container within 1 inch of the top of the container with a commercial peat-based compost. Space the seeds one quarter of an inch apart, covering lightly with horticultural vermiculite. Place the lids on the containers and just let them stand for the first month.

Then, check once a week to see if the seeds have germinated. If only a few have started, then just put the lid back on. The seed germinates best in the dark and those already poking through will come to no harm for a few weeks. When about half have germinated, replace the lids with clear plastic held in place by rubber bands.

After the last frost date, place them into a shaded frame. Keep the seeds that have yet to germinate in their lidded containers, while the others can sit uncovered. Let them sit here for about a year, watering when necessary. Be sure to cover the frames in the winter.

If you don’t have a frame, or won’t be there to keep an eye on them, plant them out—they’ll survive if undisturbed.

Strange growth, no blooms or are you wondering the best way to transplant? Just ask, and the Horticulture editorial team will take a stab at answering your ailment or query. E-mail edit@hortmag.com

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