Cyclamen is the plant of the moment. It is in all of the shops and making its way to flowerbeds that want to extend their color for a few more weeks. If you are on the UES you will see many of them nestled between purple or white-flowering cabbage plants...
I love this little plant. The blossoms seem to defy gravity, looking like tissue that has been quickly pulled from the box. Its leaves look beautiful alongside ivy. But it is a plant with a personality that is sometimes (sadly) misunderstood.
Have you ever had a cyclamen as a house plant, only to have it slowly die off after it blossoms for months? It may actually have nothing to do with the greenness of your thumb.
This plant thrives and blossoms in the Mediterranean's cool climate from Sept. to May. This is why they perform so well in our flowerbeds this time of year. But while cool temperatures are fine, they will still die in the harsh cold of the Northeast winter. If you can take one in out of the cold it will reward your kindness by flowering for many months.
Inside or out, though, they start to drop all of their leaves and 'take a siesta' once the sun and hot weather arrives in May. Many people think they are dead and throw them away. Or begin to overwater or overfertilize, poor things. But you can put them away on a shelf (but not a dark closet) and forget about them until September comes around again. Then, put the tuber in new potting soil, begin watering again, and your cyclamen should come back.
(Cyclamen in a townhouse flowerbox)
To learn more you can look over at Gardenweb for great advice from experienced gardeners.
(Cyclamen enjoying the sun outside the local flower shop)