Cyclamen sun or shade

Container Grown Cyclamen: Outdoor Care Of Cyclamen In Pots

Cyclamen are low, flowering plants that produce bright, beautiful blooms in shades of red, pink, purple, and white. While they do well in garden beds, plenty of gardeners choose to grow them in containers. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow cyclamen in pots.

Container Grown Cyclamen

While they prefer cool weather and actually bloom in the winter, cyclamen plants can’t tolerate temperatures below freezing. This means that if you live in a cold winter environment and want your plants to make it past their dormant summer period, your only options are growing them in a greenhouse or in pots. And unless you already have a greenhouse, pots are certainly the easier route.

Growing cyclamen in containers is also a nice way to take advantage of their blooming period. While your container grown cyclamen are flowering, you can move them to a place of honor on the porch or in your home. Once the flowers have passed, you can move the plants out of the way.

Growing Cyclamen in Containers

Cyclamen come in a large number of varieties, and each has slightly different growing conditions. As a rule, though, growing cyclamen in containers is easy and usually successful.

Potted cyclamen plants prefer well-draining growing medium, preferably with some compost mixed in. They are not heavy feeders and need very little fertilizer.

When planting a cyclamen tuber, choose a pot that leaves about an inch of space around the outside of the tuber. Set the tuber on top of the growing medium and cover it with half an inch of grit. Multiple tubers can be planted in the same pot as long as they have enough space.

Potted cyclamen plants like cool Fahrenheit temperatures in the 60s (15 C.) during the day and the 50s (10 C.) at night. They grow best if placed in indirect bright sunlight.

Hardy cyclamen used to be the preserve of enthusiasts who swapped plants and seed with elaborate collectors’ numbers and went on seed-collecting trips to Turkey. But now cyclamen have crept out of the cold frames of the elite into the borders of the many, and no wonder – they can create a splash in shady places where not much grows and when little else is hardy enough to flower.

I’m not talking about Cyclamen persicum, the tender plants sold in the thousands by florists and garden centres for temporary winter colour, but the tougher, more diminutive species, which are increasingly mass-produced by nurseries in a wide range of leaf and flower colours. And once you have hardy cyclamen in your garden, they’ll spread themselves about. This starts slowly, with the occasional appearance of dark green, ivy-like leaves in borders or cracks in paving – flowers usually follow the year after.

A few years later, more appear, sometimes in bizarre places – some have just turned up in one of our window boxes. Cyclamen seeds are too heavy to be scattered far from the parent plant; they are coated in a sweet substance that ants find irresistible and go to great effort to carry them many metres.

One of the first signs of autumn is the swaths of C. hederifolium beneath trees in older gardens – each one a perfect pink miniature version of a shop-bought cyclamen at about 8cm tall. The leaves tend to emerge later and cover the ground all winter with a carpet of silver-marked dark green. Like snowdrops, every plant has differently-marked leaves.

There is a white form, too – ‘Album’, which is particularly lovely if allowed to spread to form drifts. In the garden they will flourish beneath trees and shrubs, even conifers if the shade is not too deep. Since grass grows weakly in shade, they can be planted in lawns and allowed to seed and spread (known as naturalising), but you’ll need to stop mowing from August to May while the cyclamen are in leaf. The flowers of the later-blooming C. coum (each one no more than 1.5cm on 6cm-long stems) vary from deep dark magenta through every shade of pink to pure white.

In January and February it is the brightest and most reliable splash of colour to be had – during frosts, flowers and leaves wilt, but they perk up as soon as the temperature rises above freezing. As plants grow and seedlings spread, their characteristic dobs of pink can do so much to liven up both gardens and containers. The magenta forms in particular look very good with snowdrops.

Most C. coum have dark green leaves, but some forms – known as the pewter or silver group – have striking silver leaves. C. coum has colour, hardiness and reliability, so the dumpy shape of its flowers is easily forgiven.

By March, another species – C. repandum – is ready to take over to finish the cyclamen season. With large and elegantly shaped pink flowers, it makes an impact close to, but at 12cm tall it is too easily overwhelmed by the tulips and daffodils of the spring garden. Unlike many spring bulbs, however, it will self-seed and spread like the other hardy cyclamens I have mentioned earlier.

Cyclamen care

All hardy cyclamen grow best in well-drained, humus-rich soil. While they will thrive in full sun, most gardeners prefer to grow them in the shade of deciduous trees and shrubs. What they dislike most (apart from soggy, wet soil) is disturbance and competition – which rules them out of planting among perennials in the border.

The places they thrive tend to be unattractive for many larger and later-flowering plants. They can be planted beneath shrubs, especially if these have their lower branches removed; and can be combined with other late-winter and spring-flowering plants such as snow-drops, scillas, pulmonarias and dwarf daffodils. In containers they are best grown in their own pot sunk into the compost – when they have finished flowering, lift out the cyclamen in its pot and plant it in a shady spot for summer.

Suppliers Ashwood Nurseries; Broadleigh Bulbs; Tile Barn Nursery.

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Cyclamen persicum Houseplant Care

Cyclamen Basic Plant Care

Cyclamen plants bloom in the late winter to early spring but are commonly given as holiday gifts thanks to forced blooming in a greenhouse. The heart shaped leaves of pink, red, or white leave behind a sweet scent that lends to the Cyclamen’s popularity. Care for cyclamen as houseplants or grow where hardy in rock gardens, borders, or raised beds. Care of Cyclamen plants is relatively easy as the plants require a cool, moderately humid environment with bright filtered light.

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) Care: Light Requirements

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) plants thrive best in bright filtered light. The direct sunlight of the summer is too harsh and drying for the cool weather plant. A position in full light during the winter is preferable. Cyclamen houseplants prefer a cool environment between 55-70oF. Take care to bring outdoor plants inside before a frost.

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) Care: Water Requirements

Cyclamen enjoy an evenly moist environment with moderate humidity. As a cool weather plant, Cyclamen do not perform well under hot, dry air or drafts. Water moderately when in full leaf and avoid the crown. The leaves will wither after flowering. Reduce watering at this time. Keep dry during Cyclamen’s dormant summer months. Begin watering again when growth (leaves) reappears.

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) Care: Fertilizer Requirements

For cyclamen care, apply a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the growing season. The increased potassium and phosphate fertilizer will enhance the blooms while still providing adequate nutrition for the foliage of the Cyclamen plant.

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) Care: Pests & Diseases

Mice or squirrels may cause problems during care of Cyclamen. Plants are also susceptible to other pests such as spider mites, vine weevil, and cyclamen mite. Gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) is an example of pathogen problems that may occur under glass. Gray mold usually results in plants that have been kept in an environment that is consistently too wet and humid. Gray rot typically produces noticeable gray spores on infected parts of the plant. These should be removed and placed in a paper or plastic bag for disposal. Take care to wait until the leaves have no standing water as heavy periods of moisture are the ideal time for spreading the infection. If Botrytis blight has been a problem before, avoid overhead watering systems, misting, and excessive watering of the Cyclamen plants.

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) Care: Propagation & Potting

Cyclamen persicum should be planted in a soil-based potting mix or soil that allows for good drainage while retaining essential moisture. Plant Cyclamen with the tops of the tubers just above the soil surface. When tubers fill the pot, Cyclamen plants should be repotted into a slightly larger pot.

If continuing on with seed, sow in darkness at 43-54oF as soon as ripe. Soak all seed in water before sowing and rinse thoroughly. Open-pollinated seeds should be grown in summer but will not produce growth until the early winter of the next year (about 14 months). Other seeds should be planted in late winter to mid-spring and will produce growth the fall of the same year (about six to eight months).

View Cyclamen persicum plants and purchase from your local florist.

Cultivation – FAQs
The questions and answers below are based on emails received by the Cyclamen Society Panel of Experts.

The questions most frequently asked relate to Cyclamen pot plants (florists’ Cyclamen or Cyclamen persicum cultivars) so these appear before those dealing with other ‘hardy’ species growing in pots or in the garden. Many questions need very similar answers, but correspondents have said it is helpful to find something closely resembling their own problem.

If you have questions not answered below, you can email us at [email protected] – but please read the FAQs first, it may also save you having to wait for a reply! If you do email a question, please be sure to mention where you live. It makes a big difference whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere, in the Arctic or at the equator and your email address may not help us to work this out.

Cyclamen Pot Plants

What are the basic requirements of a Cyclamen pot plant?
Cyclamen pot plants need a light position but not too much direct sunlight. A window ledge that does not face south is ideal but on frosty nights, unless you have double-glazing, you should bring it into the room. It will be happy at normal room temperatures but shouldn’t get too hot and will last much longer in a cool position (55°F/13°C).

Watering incorrectly generally causes the most problems, usually when too much water has been given. The leaves may go yellow or flop if too much water is given but this is often taken as a sign the plant is thirsty and more water is given, which makes the problem worse, often with fatal results. So, always wait until the compost feels fairly dry but avoid waiting so long that the plant becomes limp. You can water from either the top or the bottom but afterwards the pot should be allowed to drain properly and any water remaining in the saucer or potholder after 5 minutes should be tipped away. If possible, avoid splashing the centre of the plant as rot often starts there where the leaf and flower stalks are packed together.

You can feed with a pot-plant liquid food (e.g. Baby Bio) about every 2 weeks, but be aware that overfeeding is more likely to produce foliage rather than flowers. Dead flowers or leaves should be removed carefully by giving their stems a sharp tug.

I live in the USA and usually have rain. However, lately (late July) it has been very hot. The plants’ leaves are turning yellow and are dying. They are no longer blooming. They are in a wood planter and I water them only when they need it. What is going on? Are they going to a dormant stage or are they dying? Please help me save my plants if I can.
Cyclamen are Mediterranean plants and follow the regime of ‘come into growth in autumn (fall)’, ‘grow through winter and spring’ and ‘go dormant in the summer while there is no rain & loads of sun’. They flower either in autumn or spring.

Yours are probably florists’ cultivars of Cyclamen persicum that flowers in spring as a species but the cultivars will flower all through the growing season. Putting it simply, your plant is going dormant for the summer and you should stop watering until September/early October. If you keep them too moist over this period then the tuber may rot.

The leaves of my cyclamen are turning yellow. Does this mean I watered too much?
It could mean that. I assume that you are talking about a florists’ cyclamen – that is, a Cyclamen persicum cultivar that you keep in a pot in the house. If it is this sort, the most likely causes are overwatering or keeping it in too warm a place. Since Cyclamen are native to the countries that surround the Mediterranean and grow in the autumn, winter and spring, too much warmth means it feels like summer and time to go dormant for a few months, as a tuber (a bit like a small potato) under the soil/compost. You should keep it in a cool place (50F is ok) and let it almost dry out between waterings. The idea is to give it a good soaking, let it use up all the water (without the compost getting so dry that either the plant wilts or it is so dry it won’t wet again), and then soak it again. You can expect that by the end of April it will want to go dormant anyway, so you should stop watering then until September. If it is not a florists’ cyclamen, the problem could still be too much water, but you would have to tell me more about it.

I have recently acquired a cyclamen and have no idea how to care for it. I don’t know the exact species. The first 2 weeks I had it there were no problems. It bloomed and seemed healthy. Now it looks sick. It has gone from being thick with leaves to very thin. I normally have no trouble with plants and they are all over my house in wide variety, but this one has me done.
I guess you are talking about a Cyclamen pot plant you bought in a florist’s shop or garden centre? If so, it is likely that you are keeping it in too warm a place in the house. They really need to be kept cool (50F) and not overwatered. You don’t say where you live, so I can’t guess what your outside temperatures or rainfall, etc. are like, so I will assume that it is at least similar to the southern U.K. i.e. warm but not hot summers, rain on and off all year, at least some frosts in winter.

In this situation, you cannot grow the plant out of doors except during the summer months, when it should be dormant anyway. You can easily grow it as a houseplant provided you keep it fairly cool. It won’t be too happy with a house heated to 20C/70F with the dry atmosphere that goes with that. Keep it in the coolest place you can, away from radiators. It will like sun but not getting scorched on a south facing window ledge. Don’t keep watering it. Give it a good soak by standing the pot in a few inches of water for a while, let it drain, then leave it alone until the compost is quite dry, before giving it a good soaking again. After it stops flowering in about April (northern hemisphere) the leaves will go yellow and wither. Stop watering at this time and put the pot somewhere cool and dry for the summer. When you get the chance during the dormant period, repot the tuber (it will be like a small flat potato) into a slightly larger pot. If possible, use compost that is loam based, with added grit and a handful of something like peat as well. You can use soil-less compost but it makes watering more difficult – especially at the end of the dormant period when you want the compost to take up moisture again. In about September (or when you see growth starting), soak the pot. If no growth had shown when you watered it, wait for shoots to appear before watering again.

I have just received a lovely, potted cyclamen from a friend on the occasion of my Mother’s passing and would dearly love to keep the plant healthy and beautiful for as long as possible. I live in the outskirts of Washington D.C. in the U.S. and don’t know if my clay soil will be healthy for the plant. Also, it gets very hot and humid here in the summertime. The plant is good-sized, has medium green/silver veined leaves, the flowers being almost perfectly white with deep magenta edges, the edges being highly ruffled.
If it is a potted Cyclamen it is almost certainly a florists’ cultivar of Cyclamen persicum. They really like cool conditions and, if they get too hot, will tend to go dormant. C. persicum is a Mediterranean plant which grows at (generally) low altitude and is not frost hardy. It comes into growth in the autumn (fall), flowers in the early spring (February-March) and goes dormant for the entire summer. The cultivars are normally grown in pots as houseplants – but here the problem is that they really want temperatures around 50-55F when in growth and the dry heated conditions we tend to live in these days in the winter don’t suit this. So you need to find as cool a spot for it as possible. It could be planted out, but would prefer a well-drained soil, and is likely to go dormant at some point. Also, I don’t know what your winter temperatures are like, but you would have to lift and repot it if you have frosty winters. Please take into account that repotting Cyclamen when in growth is not the easiest thing to do. Really I would recommend that you let it go dormant in its pot. Repot it into something larger in a free draining compost which will re-wet OK in the autumn (the compost it is in is probably peat-based and will be really difficult to re-wet), keep it dry (but not totally dessicated) over the summer and let it come back into growth in the autumn.

Please tell me that, although I was negligent and left my potted plant exposed to too much sun one day, it will survive. It continues to wilt and die.
The top growth will almost certainly die off. This is not too much of a concern as at this time of year (northern hemisphere – April) Cyclamen are starting to think about going dormant for the summer anyway. I am saying this, of course, without knowing where you live. Cyclamen have a tuber (similar in some ways to a potato) that is the storage organ they use to remain alive during their dormant summer period.

They come into growth in the autumn (fall) and, if we are talking about a florists’ cultivar (which is derived from Cyclamen persicum), will come into flower between Christmas and roughly March. Often it is possible to buy them in flower in the autumn (fall), as they can be forced to flower by artificially controlling temperature and light levels. The important thing for the moment is for you to keep the compost just moist until the plant decides if it is going to put up new leaves now or go dormant. If it decides to go dormant, overwatering it will possibly end up with the tuber rotting. Even if it does put up new leaves now, it should still go dormant for the summer, in which case you should keep it almost dry and in a cool place until about September.

I have a question about my cyclamen. I have no idea what species it is, but maybe you can help me. I bought it about a month ago and the flowers stopped growing. It is a potted plant and it lives in the living room of my apartment. I put it next to the window and open the blinds during the day. The leaves were turning yellow for a while, but I put some Miracle Grow on it and the leaves now look fine. Is there anything I can do to it to make the flowers start growing again?
I suspect that what you have is a florists’ cultivar of Cyclamen persicum. This is really the only sort that would be sold as a pot plant (as opposed, that is, to something you may buy in a pot from a garden centre or nursery, which is more like a rock plant). C. persicum cultivars really prefer cool conditions (55F) and not too dry an atmosphere. Also, although they do like some sun, in the wild C. persicum is either a woodland plant or it will hide its tuber under rocks with just the leaves and flowers poking into the light. Around now (northern hemisphere – April), it is likely to be going dormant for the summer and the leaves can be expected to be going yellow soon anyway. When this happens, let it become fairly dry and have a rest (without the compost getting so dry that you can’t get it wet again!).

I recently received a cyclamen plant as a gift. It was originally in a plastic container. I do not know the species, but it had 4 to 5 pinkish flowers, which drooped or hung somewhat, and green leaves. The plant flourished at first, and then the flowers slowly began to disappear. Over the next few weeks, each leaf began to die. When there were approximately 4 to 5 green single leaves left, I repotted into a larger clay pot with the addition of plant food, in an attempt to save the plant. However, this attempt was to no avail as the plant subsequently and apparently died completely. Additionally, the only trauma the plant received was a few eaten leaves by cats shortly after the plant was brought home. I watered from the bottom only and according to your instructions contained in your online article. Now, no leaves or flowers exist – only the root system is left. Please respond to the following questions at your earliest convenience: Will the plant return from the soil? Is it merely dormant? What should I do? What did I do wrong? How can I tell the species?
If your Cyclamen was sold as a pot plant, it is almost certainly a florists’ cultivar derived from Cyclamen persicum. At this time of year (northern hemisphere – April), I would expect any cyclamen to be thinking about dormancy.

They basically grow in the autumn (fall), winter and spring, and are dormant in the summer. Just when they go dormant will be determined to some extent by they conditions under which they are growing. Too much heat in a sunny window, for instance, will encourage early dormancy, whilst growing in light but cool conditions may see them continuing into mid-May. I suggest you run with what the plant wants to do, and when the leaves have gone yellow, withhold water and let it rest until September. Keep the pot in a cool place, if possible, and dry – but not so dry that the compost will never wet again!

Please help me. I’m killing it. A friend gave me a Cyclamen last Sunday and I have already had two leaves turn yellow and die, and three more are turning yellow. I seem to be killing it rather quickly. I have watered it from the bottom, pouring off water not soaked up in 15 minutes. I have given it some half strength liquid plant food. I tried it in a north facing window, then an east facing window where it got quite warm, and now have it back in my only north facing window. What can I possibly be doing wrong? We live in the top of the Rockies at about 8700 feet elevation. There was nothing to tell me what kind it is, but I assume she got it at the grocery store. It is very small, in a very small plastic pot, one of those decorated with a paper cover over the pot and a matching bow. I removed the paper cover and put it in a saucer. I would appreciate any information you can give me.
Cyclamen are essentially Mediterranean plants (in the widest sense) and therefore follow a growing season of:
Come into growth in the autumn (fall);
Flower in the autumn, winter or spring; and
Go dormant in late spring/early summer.

Your plant is very likely to be a florists’ cultivar, bred from Cyclamen persicum, which has been retarded by starting the tuber off late. C. persicum naturally flowers through February-March-April, but the florists’ forms are brought into flower anytime from (northern hemisphere) September through April. In any event, I would expect it to be going dormant around now (northern hemisphere – May), and it will rest in its tuber until about September. I suggest you keep it more or less dry (but not dessicated) until about September, then give it a little water and leave it until you see new growth appearing before watering normally.

‘Normally’ in this sense means: Soak the pot, then let it use up the moisture until the compost is fairly dry, and then soak well again. Cyclamen do not really appreciate a constant dribble of water. They like to be kept in good light, but not direct sunlight, and cool – maybe 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep away from central heating etc. The yellowing leaves are probably due to over-watering and/or getting too warm. I would suggest that once all the leaves have gone (or turned yellow & been pulled off) you have the tuber out of the pot and put it in something larger. Since you need to keep it dryish over the summer, choose compost that will re-wet easily. Peat based composts often dry out too much and are difficult to re-wet again. Whilst it is dormant, try to keep it as cool as possible. Certainly keep the pot out of direct sunlight.

Do indoor varieties of cyclamen go dormant? I have a few pots that were beautiful in the winter and now (northern hemisphere – May) barely have any leaves. I thought that perhaps they were not getting enough light since the amount of sunlight may have decreased as the foliage on the trees has created a great deal of shade around our house. But having just read about cyclamen on your home page I was wondering if perhaps they are just going dormant. These are miniature cyclamen. Do you have any insight into what may be going on with these plants and what I should do to restore them to their former beauty?
Yes, they have gone dormant. They should certainly have done so by now, although I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been some weeks ago. They need to be allowed to rest until the autumn (fall) by keeping the pots dryish and in a cool place out of direct sunlight. If the tubers (a bit like a potato) are still in the original pots – which are usually rather small – then I suggest that while they are dormant you should repot them into something a little larger, but do not water them. Try to use compost that will re-wet fairly easily – maybe something which is loam-based, with some extra grit in it. The problem with most peat-based composts is that if they dry out completely the air trapped in them prevents them from re-wetting. If you get this problem I suggest you add a couple of drips of hand dish-wash detergent/soap, which will not harm the plants, but will act as a wetting agent.

In the autumn (maybe September, but possibly into November) when new leaves start to shoot, give the pots a good watering. Soak them well, and then don’t water until they get dryish – then soak again. If you get worried that they aren’t doing anything by late October, as long as the tubers are still plump and hard they will be OK, but you can start them into growth by watering at this point. Don’t worry about shade. Cyclamen persicum from which the florists’ Cyclamen are derived, is basically a woodland plant. They love cool shade.

I have just bought a white Cyclamen from a store, and was hoping that you could give me a really brief description on how to care for it. (i.e. when and how much water; how much sun; fertilizer; etc.) I have just started getting interested in plants, and therefore any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated. I really don’t want to kill such a beautiful plant. I live in an apartment that receives morning sun and is fairly bright the rest of the day (although without direct sun after 11 a.m.).
The main things really are keep it cool, out of direct sunlight, and don’t over-water. Let it dry out, then stand the pot in several inches of water to give it a good soak then let it drain and leave it until it is fairly dry before repeating the process. What you have is probably a florists’ cultivar of Cyclamen persicum that has been forced into growth. They are naturally winter-spring flowering plants.

Could you please tell me when a good time to transplant it would be?? I am still getting new budding shoots on my plant, but I know one of these days, it will be too big for the small pot it’s in.
Best time is when it is dormant. Really, you should wait until the plant ‘starts to move’, and then repot. For example, assuming the leaves die off and it goes dormant in April, then if you repot in July you should find that the roots have just started to produce a few new shoots, although there is no evidence of growth above the compost. The only downside to this is that if you pot it into moist compost then it may start the plant into growth before you really want it to.

‘Hardy’ Cyclamen Species

I know this may be a silly question, but how do I know which way up to plant a corm
It’s not really a silly question! Up to a point, it depends on the species. However, as a general guide – assuming there are no visible roots, then you will find that one side has the growing point, and the other side has nothing. Plant with the growing point upwards. Otherwise, if it’s saucer shaped, plant with the convex side downwards/concave side upwards. Incidentally, they are tubers, not corms!

I bought some hardy cyclamen last fall, before I found out they were possibly not hardy in my Zone. I live in the USA in Zone 5, Kansas City Missouri. I believe we are pretty far into this zone, but I am not sure. We have fairly mild winters here–not a lot of snow, but we do get down into the sub-zero Fahrenheit temperatures for about 2 weeks in mid-winter. I found no leaf growth this summer, but now have found that all four bulbs are flowering quite profusely. I was surprised, as I assumed that they did not make it. My question is: will they begin to grow leaves over the winter? Do I need to mulch them? I have them on the north side of my house, and I did not plant them very deep, as you do not plant the indoor variety very deep. How fast will they multiply?
It is likely that the plants are Cyclamen hederifolium. I will assume that this is the case, but you may care to look at the Species pages on this web site and see if they match what you are seeing in your garden. Leaves will come before flowering finishes. You could mulch them, but this is better done during the summer, not now they are growing. If they are C. hederifolium, then they really are bone hardy and will survive the climate you describe – particularly if there is snow cover during the very cold spell. Incidentally, they do not have bulbs, but tubers – a bit like a potato. As for depth – they may pull themselves a bit deeper, but they don’t really need to be deep under the surface. They will only multiply by seed. They should set seed fairly freely which will be spread around by insects. It takes about 2-3 years from seed to flowering.

How to: entice a cyclamen to flower again

Photo –

A pot of cyclamen is a favourite winter present, but by now you might be wondering what to do with it. Don’t throw it away. A cyclamen will repeat its beautiful dispaly year after year if you treat it right.

There are two kinds of cyclamen: a small, outdoor one; and a showy indoor plant. The tiny outdoor version is as hardy as a snowdrop. It is among the longest-lived of garden plants: a corm will likely outlive the gardener who planted it. It has other advantages too: it will grow under trees; does not object to a limy soil; and effortlessly brightens a cold winter garden.

The showy indoor cyclamen, sometimes called a Persian cyclamen, is a winter favourite for its elegant nodding flowers. It only disappoints when it suddenly flops, usually as a result of too much water. Overwatering results in yellowing leaves and a soft rot developing in the stems of the flowers. Some growers recommend avoiding this by not watering overhead. Instead, stand the pot in a few centimetres of water in a saucer or bowl. Moisture will be absorbed through the pot. The saucer or bowl should be emptied when the plant is judged to have had enough. Some other successful growers swear by overhead watering with weak tea. Whichever strategy you pursue, ensure your cyclamen gives just as much pleasure next winter as it did this winter, by following these tips:

1. Keep it moist so long as it continues to flower and to carry leaves.

2. Let it dry off gradually after the last buds have opened and faded away.

3. Leave it, in its pot, unwatered, in a frost-free place during the remaining cold weeks. Leave it outside, still unwatered, in a shady place throughout summer.

4. Kick start it back into life in March by giving it water again. It will quite quickly show new buds all over the corm. For best results the cyclamen should now be re-potted into fresh, high-quality potting mix. Do not bury the corm; it should sit on top, three-quarters visible. Do not water too much at first, then water more generously as autumn continues. Once it looks good, take it back inside and enjoy it all over again.

Text: Linda Ross

Cyclamen Care Guide: How to Grow Hardy Cyclamen in Your Garden

Cyclamen Care

These plants are hardy and long-lived and require little care once established. They do not like to be disturbed unnecessarily so try not to move them about too much. Find them a spot of their own or let them share their space with spring bulbs or other shade-loving plants. They are small in stature and so suit rock gardens and alpine beds. The plants self-seed and will soon spread to surrounding areas of your garden.

Light requirements

These plants do not like hot sunny positions and prefer semi-shade. If kept in a warm, dry situation they may be more susceptible to cyclamen mites and spider mites.

Water requirements

Water these plants during their growing period if the weather is dry. However, take care not to overwater them, especially in their dormant period, as this can cause the roots to rot. In autumn and winter nature usually provides enough water for these plants, however, you should keep an eye on them if the weather is particularly dry. Hederifolium can manage well through even dry summers with minimal watering. Potted plants should be watered just as they almost dry out. Give them a good soaking rather than a regular sprinkle.

Soil requirements

These plants like a fertile but free draining soil. If you have sandy soil it is worth enriching it with some well-rotted manure or compost before planting. If your soil is heavy add some coarse grit as these plants will not tolerate sitting in wet soil.

Fertilizer requirements

Once planted into a relatively fertile soil these plants do well without any extra fertiliser. A yearly mulch is enough to keep them well fed and to protect them from the worst winter weather. If your soil is poor or sandy, apply a low release fertiliser in spring.


Cyclamen is usually bought in a pot but can be purchased as a tuber.

Plant tubers so the top is just below the surface of the soil. Space them 15-25 cm (6-10 inches) apart. If there are no roots on your tuber it can be hard to know which way up to plant it. However, if you look closely you will see that one side has a growing point and this should be planted facing upwards. For the more saucer-shaped tubers, plant with the convex side downwards.

Cyclamen look wonderful planted in containers. Choose a container with plenty of drainage holes and cover these with crocks to prevent them from becoming blocked. Cyclamen do not like sitting in cold wet soil. They often do best on their own and should not be overcrowded as this will encourage mould. Use a loam-based compost and add a slow release fertilizer in spring. Position your plant somewhere with good air circulation as this will reduce the risk of grey mould.


Remove spent flowers to reduce the risk of mould. Grip the flower stem and twist it to detach the whole stem from the corm if possible. At the end of autumn, remove fallen leaves if they are thick, as these will prevent your plant from getting enough light. Do this by hand, rather than raking, so as not to damage the tubers which sit quite high in the soil.


Container grown plants do not get very large so will rarely need repotting unless they are in very small pots. It is worth removing some of the soil from the top of the pots each spring and replacing it with fresh. Try to work around the corms when you do this so as not to disturb them too much.

Looks good with

These plants look good with other winter and early spring flowering bulbs such as snowdrops, winter aconites, and fritillaries. Cyclamens also look stunning when paired with hellebores, primroses or trillium. They make good underplanting for shrubs and trees and are one of the few plants that will flower in these dry shady conditions. They also look good against a backdrop of ferns which will also do well in these conditions.

Pruning advice

Cyclamen do not require pruning or cutting back.


SERIES 16 | Episode 14

Cyclamens are long flowering – usually from April through winter and into spring. Some are perfumed and they are available in a rich tapestry of colours ranging from white, to pink, red and mauve. They are among Jane’s favourite potted plants at this time of year.

Cyclamen persicum, the parent of these modern hybrids, is native to islands in the Mediterranean, Greece and Lebanon. In the 1600s cyclamen were taken to Europe and grown for ornamental purposes. Much work went into hybridising and breeding to obtain the form we have today, which is different from the original plants.

If you’ve grown cyclamen at home you might notice the seed pods – funny little objects growing from the plant – collect these, store them in a bottle and then sow them in winter when the temperature is cooler. Jane sowed some into a tray and tiny seedlings have appeared. Pot these up and it doesn’t take long before a pea-shaped tuber develops with slightly larger leaves. Repot as the tuber grows.

Cyclamens aren’t fussy, but they do need some general maintenance. When the flower is finished, don’t rip it off, push the stem and twist at the same time to remove without damaging the core. During summer cyclamens are dormant, so put the pot on its side in a shady spot in the garden. By January they will start to re-grow and that’s the time to repot them.

Cyclamen are also susceptible to botrytis or grey mould, which occurs mostly in cool, humid conditions. Spray the centre of the plant with a fungicide or remove the dead leaves or flowers. Cyclamen hate being in hot stuffy rooms and particularly dislike central heating so take them outdoors at night. These plants thrive in cool temperatures and do well in a brightly lit spot, especially on a patio or verandah. Water cyclamens at ground level but don’t water the leaves because they can get a fungus problem. In the garden cyclamens do well amongst other shrubs and will live for a long time.

There is much variety amongst cyclamen. Jane’s favourites include the fragrant, small flowered, and true miniature varieties. She loves the delicate flowers and the lovely motley, marbled leaves, each with a different pattern. She thinks they’re quite extraordinary.


For a beautiful indoor flower display from late autumn through winter you can’t go past cyclamen. Their unique heart-shaped flowers and blooms ranging from white and pink to mauve and red also make them an impressive gift.

A little bit about Cyclamen

Botanical name: Cyclamen

Height: Cyclamen can grow up to 20cm high but growth will be contained in pots.

Cyclamen is a small but diverse genus of plants with many varieties being quite hardy. They provide beautiful splashes of winter colour with vivid flowers set perfectly against the heart shaped, marbled foliage. The Cyclamens you’ll most commonly come across are Cyclamen persicum because they make fantastic indoor plants, blooming for months with very little care.

Ideal spot

They look gorgeous indoors, so long as they are placed near a window that receives plenty of light. Cyclamens need space and don’t appreciate hot, stuffy rooms. If you the foliage on your plant begins to yellow and the flowers are fading it’s a sign that the position is too warm and needs to be moved. If you have the heating on, pop the plants outside for the night so that they can get a breath of fresh air.

While we often think of them as a delicate indoor plant, cyclamens actually perform very well outdoors as they naturally occur in harsh, rocky areas of the Mediterranean. Plant them in a spot with good drainage and dappled shade – they look particularly pretty planted around the base of your favourite tree.

Caring tips

Cyclamen like it cool and dry so water sparingly in the mornings when the soil feels dry and try to avoid splashing the leaves to extend their life.

Remove spent flowers by gently twisting stems off at the base and pulling away from the main bulb to promote further blooms.

Keep away from your home heater or fire as they don’t like the heat or dry air.

Cyclamen kept as indoor plants are usually thrown away once they’ve finished flowering as they’re used as an extended alternative to cut flowers. It is possible however to get another season out of them if you put them outside in a dry, protected place over summer. In autumn report the plant and start to water again when new leaves appear. Another option is to plant them out in a shady garden position where they may flower again next year.

Pests and diseases to watch out for

Cyclamen are not often troubled by pests and disease but you can avoid potential rotting and fungus problems by watering only as needed and below the leaves to keep foliage dry.

Growing Cyclamens

The coolness of winter brings us the perfect living gift for any loved one — cyclamen.

How do you spread the love when temperatures fall? When a person is born or when two are married? When your best friend moves house or when they are blue? How do you give them some TLC to let them know you care? Cut flowers are great but sometimes we want something to last a little longer. We want the receiver to remember the giver for as long as possible — and smile! Cyclamen are the perfect plants for indoors or shady areas in winter. They have a long, continuous flowering period — usually from May until October. They are available in a rich tapestry of colours, ranging from white to pink, red and mauve. Some are even bi-coloured. The leaves come in a range of shapes — from broad to rounded, kidney, or heart shaped. They may be blotched, patterned, or even marbled on the upper surface. A cyclamen’s foliage is so pretty and distinctive that it can be worth growing for its foliage alone. There are even scented and miniature forms of cyclamen.

Cyclamen aren’t fussy: ‘Treat ‘em cold, keep ‘em beautiful!’ Even though cyclamen grow fantastically indoors, they love the cold; it seems to refresh and revitalise them. Every few days give your cyclamen a drink and put them outside for the night. They will appreciate the cold, frosty night more than us! Never let your cyclamen sit in a saucer of water permanently — this will cause a yellowing of the leaves, rotting of the stems, and eventual death of the plant.

Plant cyclamens in a specifically designed soil mix which has excellent water holding capacity and the right nutrient ratio for Cyclamen to grow beautifully. Searles Cyclamen & African Violet Mix is ideal for planting cyclamens. Cyclamens also appreciate a feed with a liquid fertiliser, such as Searles Flourish Liquid Plant Food. If done fortnightly with, cyclamen should continuously bloom until mid-spring. Another way to promote plentiful, long-lasting blooms is to remove the spent flowers. A spent cyclamen flower should never be cut off. Instead, remove tired blooms and stems by gently twisting them off at the base and pulling them away from the main bulb.

Cyclamen grow from a tuber or corm and tend to die down during our hot, humid summer. If you are lucky though and find a cool, dry, shady spot in the garden (that isn’t taken by you) they can continue to grow. If your cyclamen do die down, keep them in a cool, dry, shady position and water sparingly and hope they reappear in the cool months again. If they don’t regrow, think about it like this – A bunch of cut flowers that lasted over three months. Wow, now that’s value for money!

Don’t be cold this winter, share the love and give a living, growing gift to someone special. Or give some TLC to yourself and buy a cyclamen. These beauties will warm your soul even on the coldest morning.

About The Author

My family owns Trevallan Lifestyle Centre (TLC) an About the Garden Local Garden Expert. Trevallan’s motto is “give your life some TLC” and that’s what I do every day – help people put the TLC (Tender, loving care) back into their life. I love talking to people about stress FREE gardening and often talk at local gardening clubs, women’s groups and social clubs. I write a gardening column for the local paper and gardening magazines (including About the Garden). I also love sourcing beautiful things for the home and body. I try to source things for their beauty and functionality but sometimes decor items have to be a little bit fun too! Enjoy the journey with me and visit my blog

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