Thank you to the Ants.

I really must learn to be more patient. When I saw the first Cyclamen hederifolium popping up in the woodland a month ago, they were immediately photographed and a post written about them. If only I had waited, there are now easily three times as many flowers, making the woodland look really pretty, in spite of all the fallen leaves and everything else looking so dry.

Thanks must go to the ants that spread the seed. They carry the seed away, then after they have licked off the sticky, sugary coating, just drop the seed where it  then germinates and  takes about 4 years to form a flowering corm.























I think you’ll agree that I have a lot to thank the ants for. I bought 6 corms 25 yrs ago and this is the result of a lot of work by the ants. Isn’t nature wonderful-  if the seed dropped straight down on top of the mother corm, the seed wouldn’t survive – instead, by covering it with a sweet coating, nature makes sure that the seed is carried away to fresh soil for the seed to germinate. All you need to get drifts of cyclamen is to buy a few corms to start with, sit back and leave it to the ants!

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24 Responses to Thank you to the Ants.

  1. Frank says:

    What a show, your ants have been very productive! I like how they have blended the whites and pinks in such an artful mix, they seem to be quite the little artists 🙂
    I have a few coming along but our fat bumblebees are so clumsy when they attack the flowers I think it damages them enough to make them fall off. I do get good pollination, but when I had a potted plant indoors the flowers lasted much longer.

    • Pauline says:

      You have to admit Frank that I have my ants well trained! I seem to be getting more white seedlings thank pink, but I don’t mind what colour they are, they are all welcome. I think once flowers have been pollinated, the plant doesn’t need it any more, that is probably why indoor plants flower for longer.

  2. Kate Patel says:

    Oh, how very beautiful! I’ve don’t think I’ve ever seen such a wonderful Autumn display. In wilder parts of India tribal women daily create beautiful patterns made from rice flour on their doorsteps celebrating ants … When I see your fabulous naturalised cyclamen it makes me wonder whether I shouldn’t pay homage to them too.

    • Pauline says:

      Thank you so much Kate, for your lovely comment! I think we should both pay homage to the ants, they are such maligned creatures, they certainly do have their uses in the greater scheme of things.

  3. Alison says:

    I just wish the ants would stay outside the house and do their work and eating out there, instead of invading my kitchen. I hope some day to have nice large swathes of Cyclamen like yours, right now I just have a few small patches.

    • Pauline says:

      We have only had them invade the kitchen a couple of times Alison in the 25 yrs we have been here, thank goodness. They are very welcome as long as they stay in the woodland! I hope your patches soon grow to be drifts, it’s wonderful when they spread without any effort from the gardener!

  4. Diana Studer says:

    our fynbos, wildflowers, are dependent on ants to take the seed to their nests below the ground. When fire rages on the mountain, the buried seeds geminate with the first rain.

  5. Susie says:

    Nature has some inventive ways to carry on. Your cyclamen are beautiful. I like the white ones very much.

  6. Denise says:

    Well the results of your 25-year partnership with the ants has really paid off! What a beautiful display and well deserving a post in their own right. I really must make a start and buy some corms…..I already have plenty of ants. Maybe I should start training them!

    • Pauline says:

      Absolutely Denise, get your little army working for you! When I bought my first corms, I had no idea that ants would spread the seed and tried growing it myself. Not a success, I’m afraid, over the years I kept forgetting to water the pots and eventually they died, much easier to leave it to the ants!

  7. Christina says:

    I’m glad the ants do some good, they are a real problem in my garden, I lose a lot of plants to their disturbing the soil around the roots but I could forgive them if they can spread the seed so successfully; your garden woodland is full of colour.

    • Pauline says:

      I think the ants are only in the woodland Christina, as my other cyclamen in shady places aren’t spreading in the same way, they probably don’t like the heavy clay in the rest of the garden!

  8. Wendy says:

    Obviously my ants are slacking compared to yours, as my cyclamen haven’t spread anywhere near as well. What a beautiful display your flowers are making. Nature is quite amazing, with so many intricate relationships between living things.

    • Pauline says:

      You really must get them trained properly Wendy, don’t they know they have work to do! I love how they are spreading in the woodland, soon they will be as lovely as the snowdrops in Feb/March. I think Nature is quite wonderful, the way different species work together for the benefit of each other.

  9. Cathy says:

    Lovely photos Pauline! 🙂

  10. debsgarden says:

    These are wonderful! Your woodland must look like a fairyland. This plant does not prosper here, but oh, I wish it did! We do have plenty of ants!

    • Pauline says:

      Yes Deb, the woodland does look very pretty at the moment, I make sure I visit it each day! What a shame that the cyclamen don’t survive for you, maybe you are too hot in the summer, or is it the cold in the winter?

  11. Jennifer says:

    Wow! Those ants have been busy! What a glorious display they have created Pauline!

  12. Cathy says:

    Knowing the came from just 6 corms is amazing!

    • Pauline says:

      It is amazing Cathy, I agree! I have other cyclamen in various shady borders, but they have stayed as one single corm, quite large ones by now, so obviously the ants are just in the woodland.

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