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Indoor "miracle" cheap house plant

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We returned from an early winter holiday at the beginning of November last year and popped into our local Tesco’s to get our next door neighbour a little “thank you” gift for keeping an eye on our home while we were away. We bought her a box of chocs and a house plant, a small cyclamen. The little plant was only £2.99p and looked so pretty, I bought one for us as well. It had half a dozen flowers and maybe a dozen leaves. It stayed in bloom right through Christmas and New Year but by mid-January all the flowers had gone and all the leaves apart from the last four.

I have had cyclamens before and thought them to be “one time” plants, so was about to put this obviously dying-off cyclamen in the bin but hubby said, oh don’t do that, it still has some life left in it. Sentimental soul, my husband.

Imagine my surprise when a week later he came back from B&Q with a much larger plastic pot and matching tray. The pot was of a special design, the upper part circular, the lower vertical. The design was apparently to help a plant’s roots retain moisture and so minimise the danger of over-watering. My husband then re-potted our “dead” cyclamen. I said what a waste of time and money, indoor cyclamens don’t last, what can you expect for £2.99p?

Anyway, he said “it’s my plant now” (not that he knows anything at all about gardening) and from the rest of January through Feb and March there it sat, in its expensive pot, on the kitchen window sill. It was now down to three leaves and actually looked worse in the larger pot than in the small one.

Early April, however, husband asked me to look again. Still three leaves. But three more beginning to unfurl. Huh? Slowly but surely, the plant went from three to six to 12 to more leaves than I could count. And then, magically, the long stemmed flowers began to thrust upwards, little pendant heads pushing up between the leaves and then opening into delicate white veils.

By early May, there were half a dozen flowers, and more leaves, and more flowers on the way. Today as I write, the “little” cyclamen has too many leaves to count, they form a kind of impenetrable girdle all around the base. As to the flowers standing proud of the leaves, if there’s one there must be 30, I’ve been trying to count them, but really there are too many to keep track of. It's lilke the plant has a kind of high, arching crown made of the most delicate inter-locking white veils.

So. . . the £2.99p little plant that I thought lived once and then died away has in fact turned out to be one of the most beautiful house plants I have ever seen – this cyclamen has been in constant flower for the past six months and still shows absolutely no sign of fading away (I've just checked before writing this and yes, still more flowers are pushing up through the jungle of leaves.)

So I'm now wondering, was I wrong about cyclamens? Should I have kept my earlier cyclamens instead of discarding them? Or is there something special about this particular one?

PS: husband is now talking about how well "his" plant will look in 2011. . . but perhaps, after this latest flowering, that really will be the end of this £2.99p beauty? (If it is, I haven't the heart to tell him!)
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  • maypole
    maypole Posts: 1,816 Forumite
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    No you shouldn't have chucked them, they do come back. Well done your OH :D
  • TravellingAbuela
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    Well, you live and learn, I have always chucked them as well!
    "If you dream alone it will remain just a dream. But if we all dream together it will become reality"
  • hybernia
    hybernia Posts: 390 Forumite
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    maypole wrote: »
    No you shouldn't have chucked them, they do come back. Well done your OH :D

    Oh maypole. . . Now what am I going to say to hubby? :o

    And what a fool I feel because I have always *thought* a cyclamen plant "never came back" (I wish I could remember where I got that particular piece of wisdom from!) So like TravellingAbuela says, you definitely live and learn.

    Just a thought: as this is greenfingers money-saving, does the humble cyclamen therefore count as one of the most money-saving house plants of them all? I mean, at just £2.99, that has to be an absolute bargain!

    PS: sorry, I'm not wanting to hog your expertise but are there any other plants you're aware of that people think are not perennials but which, in fact, will keep coming back???

    PPS; Have just told hubby about your post. He did a jig in the kitchen and blew a big kiss at "his" plant. Bang goes domestic harmony here then. ;)
  • kerleytops
    kerleytops Posts: 346 Forumite
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    I have never been able to keep them the least bit of heat seems to kill them but your story has inspired me to invest £2.99 in one and try again!
  • loucroft
    loucroft Posts: 423 Forumite
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    Wow, my friend has one that I always joked was a realistic lookalike made from very good materials! I'll tell her to put in a larger pot after hearing this!

    I've had a great indoor plant, given to me by my parents in Jan. I planted its huge buld - around 15 cms across. First the leaves came up, and as I'd thrown away the box I have no idea what it is.

    When it flowered, it had three huge pink lily-type flower heads and was about 70cms tall so it had to be supportedd. I cut the heads when they started to die back, then cut the flowers and noticed more leaves were growing. Since then, i've had 3 cycles of these gorgeous flowers. i daren't move the pot though!

    I'd love to know what it is but don't know where to start looking.
    You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt

    Author unknown
  • hybernia
    hybernia Posts: 390 Forumite
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    Well I have just looked again at "his" cyclamen. I wish I could upload a photograph of it. Just spectacular, it really is. And funnily enough, I have been shopping in Tesco's this afternoon and there they are, just like last year, pink cyclamens and white cyclamens in little pots. Now though they seem to have gone up 1p. Inflation, then.

    As I said in my post, husband knows nothing about gardening or plants. The only time we have ever discussed gardening matters was when he came home one day when I was watering our front garden border and I asked him to bring me the bottle of Miracle Gro from indoors and told him he should maybe have a drink of it himself, but that was in another context. :o

    Anyway. Regarding kerleytops post, husband for some reason decided that "his" cyclamen shouldn't have too much light or too much heat. So the plant often alternated between the kitchen window sill and the long table in our hall. I used to smile last winter, watching him carting it from one place to another. He also decided "his" plant did not like direct sunshine, so from Spring onwards in the 12 days since then when the sun has actually shone (well it seems to have been only 12 days) he has carefully picked up "his" plant and moved it onto an opposite work surface where it is safe from the death-rays he seemed to be so worried about.

    (Yes all right, I've stopped laughing at him now.)

    As to The Pot. What happened was, as he has just reminded me, he "thought" the original Tescvo pot was too small. Of course, it wasn't. And definitely not for an almost dead house plant with just three leaves (as it was when he re-potted it / as its mortality seemed to be from my perspective anyway.)

    He went into B&Q to buy a larger pot and like all men (!) was captivated by hi-tech, in this case, a huge label about a hi-tech way of watering house plants, complete with diagram of the internal construction of something with this state of the art science.

    The label was stuck to the side of one particular plastic pot. He thought (or so it seems) a hi-tech plastic plant pot must be better than a, er, low-tech plastic plant pot. So that's why he bought it.

    Unfortunately, I did not like the pot sitting on my kitchen window with this big garish label for new technology so I peeled it off (he was annoyed but I said the plant's going to die anyway. Hmmm.)

    I have just looked underneath the base of the pot and it says it was made by a firm called "Sankey". Also, the plastic saucer it sits on is made by Sankey, though I can't see how that can be hi-tech.

    Anyway, and if it helps anyone, husband's recipe for successful indoor cyclamen growing seems to be:

    1) Don't give up on a little plant if there's still life in it (sob, sob);

    2) This is the 21st Century so buy a high technology plastic pot (sort of an iPot, then);

    3) Do not over-water cyclamen in said hi-tech plastic pot (once a week is fine, the water will drain down into the iPot and keep the roots moist);

    4) Do not let the plant stand for any length of time in the direct rays of the sun.

    I have just asked him how he worked all that out and he said, it just seemed like "a good idea".

    And of course, he is now smugly looking forward to 2011 when he intends to re-pot "his" cyclamen again into an even bigger hi-tech pot (I hope Sankey still make them) so that I can be reminded every day next year that Alan Titchmarsh isn't the only bloke who knows a thing or two.

    PS. I'm now wondering whether I should patent the name iPot seeing as Sankey doesn't seem to have thought of it. :)
  • Sambucus_Nigra
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    Cyclamen is a perennial which means it comes back every year.
    If you haven't got it - please don't flaunt it. TIA.
  • maypole
    maypole Posts: 1,816 Forumite
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    hybernia wrote: »
    Oh maypole. . . Now what am I going to say to hubby? :o

    And what a fool I feel because I have always *thought* a cyclamen plant "never came back" (I wish I could remember where I got that particular piece of wisdom from!) So like TravellingAbuela says, you definitely live and learn.

    Just a thought: as this is greenfingers money-saving, does the humble cyclamen therefore count as one of the most money-saving house plants of them all? I mean, at just £2.99, that has to be an absolute bargain!

    PS: sorry, I'm not wanting to hog your expertise but are there any other plants you're aware of that people think are not perennials but which, in fact, will keep coming back???

    PPS; Have just told hubby about your post. He did a jig in the kitchen and blew a big kiss at "his" plant. Bang goes domestic harmony here then. ;)

    oh dear, I really am not an expert I just know what I know;)

    Lidls have Cyclamen in for £1.49, if I remember correctly, but don't quote me:o, I would get one but I am going away for a while:(

    they have to be kept cool,

    and it's me he should be blowing the kiss at!!!!
  • meanmarie
    meanmarie Posts: 5,328 Forumite
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    Loucroft....your plant sounds like an Amaryllis....I have one that is just growing its second lot of leaves for this year...I had bought it as a gift and forgotten about it, didn't take it out of the packaging it came in. Am going to give it a bit of a feed now and hope that it will flower for Christmas.

    There are lots of different colours available, in Holland at this time of year the corms or bulbs are for sale everywhere, just loose with top cut off....looks like the top of an onion you have just cut prior to peeling.

    HTH

    Marie
    Weight 08 February 86kg
  • jfdi
    jfdi Posts: 1,031 Forumite
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    I've got a cyclamen I inherited from my Aunt who died about 10 years ago.

    It blooms, it finishes, I chuck it (in the pot) outside the back door & ignore it for months - then come the Autumn it perks up a bit, so I bring it indoors, dust it off & plonk it back on my (east-facing) kitchen windowsill & off we go again!

    My Aunt had had it for ages before I got it! It's red, if that makes any difference.

    I've only managed to keep an Amarylis going for about a year until now, however I am into year 4 of an indoor orchid!
    :mad: :j:D:beer::eek::A:p:rotfl::cool::):(:T
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