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A Midland Alpine Gardener's Diary

This entry: 23 January 2009 by diane clement

Midland Diary No. 4 Cyclamen germination

Its been a little milder this week in Wolverhampton.  The lowest temperature has been around -1C.  However, the change has brought more rain and wind, although not so bad here as in some areas in the west of the UK.

There’s not much to do in the garden when the ground is cold, but there’s always jobs in the greenhouse.  Some people have been making approving comments in favour of the cold winter we are having as “it will kill off the bugs”.  I have never been sure of this argument, as I assume that “the bugs” have ways of coping.  Either way, I was surprised to find this newly hatched flock (or whatever they are) of greenfly swarming on allium leaves. 

I am a bit paranoid about greenfly in the greenhouse as they pass on viruses, so they were quickly dispatched with a spray of Provado.  I try to inspect pots of bulbs for greenfly on a regular basis and spray regularly. 

Tidying Up

Winter is a good time for tidying up primula allionii and similar plants.  During the autumn the basal leaves of each rosette die back, leaving a brown rosette which is unsightly and a possible source of infection through botrytis.  Removing these leaves in the autumn is tricky as they are attached to the plant quite firmly and are unpleasantly sticky to handle.  I find that during the winter they are easier as they seem more brittle and therefore easier to remove.  I wear thin latex gloves and pull them gently with tweezers to avoid getting hands gummed.  Inevitably an odd rosette does come away from the plant, but this is tidied up and inserted into the sand plunge where it will usually root.  

Cyclamen germination 

Over the past few years I have kept careful records of the germination of cyclamen seed and learnt a lot about certain species, namely Cc africanum, graecum, hederifolium and persicum.  When I first started using the “Reading Method” it involved sowing the seed and keeping them warm and dark.  This is easy to do in a covered box indoors.  The seed invariably seemed to germinate in 4 – 6 weeks.  By this I mean that the (usually single) cotyledon appeared above the gravel.  I gradually realised that this was not the first event in germination, and that actually cyclamen are hypogeal germinators, that is, they make roots and a tuber underground before forming the first true leaf above ground.  Three years ago I started investigating what was happening and started to make discoveries.  I have since found that the pattern and timing of germination of the four species mentioned above is extremely reliable given the optimum conditions. 

Nothing is visible above the gravel yet

I have shaken off the gravel to show that something has happened

Approximately ten days after sowing the radicle (root) breaks through the seed coat.  In the five to six days following, the root lengthens and then swells to form a tuber.

 

Further episodes in cyclamen development will follow over the next few weeks

 

What's in flower now

And to finish, a few seasonal pictures

Galanthus Galatea a sturdy snowdrop rather similar to Magnet. 

Galanthus Mrs McNamara 

named after Dylan Thomas's mother in law, an unlikely sounding galanthophile.  It is a very upright plant with long outer segments that remind me of dogs' ears

Cyclamen coum

Narcissus Craigton Clumper  

a romieuxii hybrid bred by Ian Young

Narcissus Camoro  -  the name derives from the parents of this hybrid

Narcissus cantabricus monophyllus and N romieuxii

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