Q. I received a cyclamen plant as a Valentine’s Day gift. How do I take care of it?
A. Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) is a cheerful florist plant that will brighten dreary winter days with colorful blooms of red, pink, violet, or white. Plants will provide color for many weeks, especially if they are purchased while in bud. Cool temperatures of approximately 50 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit will prolong blooms as well as the life of the plant. The plant should be located in bright light away from direct sun. Soil should be kept moist; however, water should be applied around the outside of the plant. Water applied to the center of the plant will rot the tuber and the plant will collapse. Spent blooms and brown leaves should be removed at the base. Fertilize weekly with a balanced fertilizer at half strength only while the plant is actively growing. Unfortunately, many plants are discarded when they fail to thrive after blooming. To return the plant to flowering next winter, reduce water and fertilizer and keep it dry until at least midsummer. Repot in fresh potting soil, leaving half of the tuber exposed above the soil line. Begin watering and fertilizing regularly and return to a cool, bright location.