Try Growing Cyclamen
Camellias are permanent plants. Grown in pots or tubs, in a soil mixture of two parts sandy loam, two parts peat and one part coarse sand, their deep green glossy foliage is attractive the year-round. They need partial shade in all but the coldest months. During the summer, they are best plunged in a protected spot outdoors where they will benefit from a weekly soaking and a dose of a water-soluble fertiliser about every 10 days.
After flowering, they need a rest period and should almost dry out between watering. More failures with Camellias are due to over watering during the winter, than to any other one cause. They also resent sudden temperature changes and cold drafts. When re potting is necessary, it should be done in the spring after new growth starts, seldom more often than every two or even three years. Attention to such details is more than compensated by the wide-spread waxy blossoms.
Still another plant commonly seen in the late autumn greenhouse or solar potting shed, yet no less worth growing on that account, is Cyclamen. Because it takes 18 months from seed to produce a flowering sized tuber, all too often Cyclamen plants are bought in full flower from a florist. In most cases, such plants have been forced to such an extent that they soon fade.
If it is possible, therefore, to find a source, it is far preferable to buy the tubers, or get young potted plants, before buds have formed. Not only will they be less expensive, but allowed to develop naturally, they will bloom for months. Under such conditions, buds start to open one or two at a time and gradually increase until anywhere from 25 to 50 orchid-like blossoms lift their recurved petals above the heart-shaped leaves.
Cyclamen Offers Challenge
When the last flowers fade, often not until March, watering should be continued until the leaves turn yellow and die: Then the pot can be put on a back shelf, maybe in your shedand kept almost dry until August or September, when signs of new shoots signal the start of another cycle. If a grower who has raised common perennial flowers or Cyclamen from seed is rightly proud, it is only slightly less of a triumph to bloom a second year.
Chrysanthemums, Camellias and Cyclamen all do best in a cool greenhouse, although they grow well in an intermediate house. Obviously there are many other worthwhile flowers which will bloom at the same time, with the same temperature range. For fragrance, there are for instance, the tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans), paper white narcissus, and annuals such as mignonette and heliotrope. Vines include swainsonia sometimes called the winter sweet pea and Solanum jasminoides, whose white flowers are also fragrant. For hanging baskets, lachenalia, oxalis in variety or alonsoa are well worth trying.
Plants with brilliant fruits are especially effective at Christmas time. Ardisia, a small evergreen shrub, with long-lasting scarlet berries, is ideal in spring or summer.