Saturday, January 1, 2011

I cut a corm

Pink cyclamen flower and budsYesterday, I divided my cyclamen plant. I've had it for six years; it was time. Yesterday was a warm day; most of the snow had melted overnight and in the morning. My compost pile was easy to work in, and I dug up a potful of soil. I sat on the porch (no coat! so warm!) with my supplies, and mixed the compost with perlite and coconut fiber.

Time for the cyclamen to come out: I turned the pot upside down and started shaking. Shake, shake. Shake, shake. No movement. I stared at the roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, wondering if they were stuck inside. I was afraid to pull on the plant top: cyclamen stems are fragile. Shake, shake - it was loose!

I eased the rootball out of the pot and started prying it apart. I think I was expecting bulblets that would peel off. What I actually found was a solid mass, about the size and shape of a small donut. What was this? Could it be divided? Off to the internet.

Cyclamens have corms, which can be divided, but not by pulling apart with fingers. They require a sharp knife. So, paring knife fetched from the kitchen. I cut the tuber like a cheese wheel. Each wedge into a pot, add my prepared potting mix. All done - plants back to the kitchen window with a fresh watering, supplies put back away.

And wait. Plants don't always take well to having their roots messed with. Taking a sharp knife to a living thing and cutting it into pieces seems an illogical way to promote its health.

I come downstairs this morning, into the kitchen for breakfast: the windowsill has four perky-looking plants. They seem happy in their new homes. I'm happy I could do that for them.

Now I have four cyclamen plants, only one of which I intend to keep. All with flower buds. Three to give away. So, who needs a new houseplant?