Gardening Wednesday: Cyclamen and Seeds

By Dawn Gerlica, Horticulturist

Cyclamen

Even though we have seen our first snow and many trees and perennials have already gone dormant, there are still a few beauties out there that shine and laugh at the approaching winter. This Cyclamen hederifolium, ivy-leaved cyclamen, is still in bloom and showing off.  You can find these plants in several places in the Valley Garden at Lantern Court.

The leaves of this Cyclamen species are just as showy as the flowers and they will stay on the plant all winter long, so in the breaks when the snow melts, there are still intricately patterned leaves in the garden to provide interest when you just need to see something green. Because the plant is only about 6 inches tall, it might need a little help to keep the deciduous tree leaves from covering the plants completely.

The plant grows throughout winter and will go dormant again in the following late spring. The plant comes from a tuber, like a potato, so if you want to grow these in your own garden it is pretty easy to purchase and plant like you would a daffodil or tulip bulb. The difference with Cyclamen is the tubers should be put in the ground just below the surface in the spring and not planted deeply in the fall.

Seeds!

As the cool air begins to kiss our cheeks and leave float to the ground, plants are ready to drop their seeds for the following spring. Our vegetable gardens are no different. Here are some quick tips on saving some seeds for use next year!

  1. Saving seeds is a great way to continue a productive plant or select for certain qualities, but if you are growing multiple varieties of a species they may cross pollinate and lead to undesired traits or loss of desired traits.  If you have a high yielding variety and cross it with a better tasting variety you might lose yield and taste in the next generation.
  2. Seeds from squishy or wet fruits (tomatoes, cucumbers and squash) will be more viable if fermented.  Place these seeds in a small cup of water and leave them out for three days to a week.  The slimy case around the seeds should have dissolved, now just dry the seeds out and store in a cool dry place for next year.
  3. Cold storage.  Many seeds need a cool or even frozen period in order to reliably germinate the following year.  Not many vegetable seeds require this but it is common for fruit and nut trees.  Place these seeds in a wet sand or peat and store them over winter in a cool garage or refrigerator.  This will allow the seeds to sprout in spring.
  4. Some plants will do the work for you!  Things like corn, beans, lettuce and peas will form and dry on the plant so all you have to do is pick them once they are dry.

And that’s this week’s Gardening Wednesday!