Cyclamen are some of the most colourful and reliable of all winter flowering plants. Not only will they warm the heart on the coldest of days, they will also grow readily from seed so long as you collect just before the seed pod splits open and sow them as fresh as possible.

The trick with cyclamen seed is to soak the seed in warm water for about 24 hours prior to sowing. To aid the absorption of the water through the seed coat you can add a drop of detergent such as washing-up liquid to the water.

Sow cyclamen seed into trays or pots containing a good quality seed compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. 

The seed should be sown on the surface of the compost, spaced about ¾ inch apart. Cover with a layer of horticultural grit about ¼ inch deep and gently water in.

Place the trays or pots into a heated propagator at an optimum temperature of between 13-15 degrees Celsius or seal them inside a clear polythene bag and keep in a warm place. Do not be tempted to keep then at a higher temperature. Furthermore, be aware that light is an inhibitor to germination in cyclamen seed, so for now keep them in the dark.

You can expect to see the seedlings emerge from 30 days onwards, at which point they can taken out of the propagator or the sealed polythene bag.

They can now be placed in the light, but for now only in a north or east facing window.

Transplant the seedlings into individual 3 inch pots when they are large enough to handle.

They can be grown over the summer in a shaded, ventilated area and then kept at around 10 degrees Celsius during the autumn andwinter period. The following spring they can be planted out into their final position.