Enjoy Cyclamen: beautiful blooms and attractive foliage
During autumn and winter Cyclamen, both potted for the house and grown outside in the garden add a welcome burst of colour. As well as beautiful marbled foliage, cyclamen are easily recognisable for their sweptback flowers in shades of pink, white, purple or crimson.
Cyclamen are tuberous plants that are native to Central Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle-East. Their native habitat ranges from alpine meadows, deciduous woodland, and areas of rock and scrub. In most species the leaves of a cyclamen will come up in autumn, grow through winter, and die in spring, it will then enter dormancy as the temperatures rise in summer.
Here at Perrywood we grow over 20,000 cyclamen each year. These are all cultivars that derive from Cyclamen persicum, commonly known as florist cyclamen. Choices range from the half-hardy miniature ‘Miracles’ that are ideal for autumn and winter containers to the larger flowering ‘Halios’ series that are perfect for adding colour to a bright windowsill indoors.
Perrywood grown Cyclamen
Taking care of a cyclamen properly is essential if you wish to keep it as long as possible. Their vibrant flowers make this plant a popular houseplant and many customers often ask ‘How do I take care of a cyclamen plant’. In order to answer this it is important to understand a few basic requirements.
Cyclamen care begins with choosing the best position and the correct temperature. Indoor cyclamen prefer a bright spot away from direct sunlight. A windowsill that does not face south is ideal. In their native habitat, cyclamen grow in cool, humid areas. In order to thrive Cyclamen persicum cultivars need no more than 20°c during the day and a night time temperature of 10-13°c. Temperatures that are too high will cause your plant to yellow, and the flowers will fade rapidly.
The next essential part of taking care of a cyclamen plant is to ensure that you water it correctly. Cyclamen are sensitive to both over and under watering. Water your cyclamen plant only when the soil is dry to the touch, but do not leave the plant in this dry state so long that it shows visible signs of not being watered, such as droopy leaves and flowers.
Perrywood grown Cyclamen
By being aware of the three watering methods described below, you can obtain the best results when watering your cyclamen…
- 1. You can pour the water on from the top using a long necked watering can, pouring it around the edge of the pot while avoiding soaking the bulb in the centre of the plant or water touching the leaves. Do this 2 or 3 times a week, waiting until the soil is rather dry to the touch.
- 2. You can soak the base of the pot in a saucer filled with water and leave the water to penetrate up to the roots. Careful! No more than 15 minutes at a time, and then be sure to pour away the surplus water. The watering frequency is the same: 2 to 3 times per week.
- 3. If the soil is really dry, you should totally submerge the pot in a bowl of water, but this “bath” should not last longer than a few minutes.
In order to extend the flowering of your cyclamen you will need to deadhead regularly and inspect the foliage for any faded leaves or signs of disease. To correctly remove fading flowers and foliage follow the stem all the way down to the soil. Tug the stem upwards firmly, but not so hard that a piece of tuber breaks off. Do not cut the stems as this acts as a pathway for plant diseases such as botrytis to reach the tuber.
Many customers often ask if they can plant our Perrywood Grown Cyclamen outside. The answer is ‘yes’ but you will need to choose the correct varieties. Cyclamen ‘Miracle’ and ‘Winter Ice’ have both been bred as slightly hardier varieties of the florist cyclamen. They can survive the low winter temperatures but will still need protection from the hardest frosts. Keep them somewhere sheltered in free-draining compost and you should be able to help them through the winter months. For a truly hardy variety of cyclamen you will need to consider either Cyclamen hederifolium or Cyclamen coum. These two low maintenance varieties are ideal for difficult spots in dry shade and will make excellent groundcover.
Cyclamen hederifolium var. confusum has leaves that are shorter and wider than the species. They are also shiny and may or may not have patterning.
Cyclamen hederifolium ‘White Cloud’ has white flowers and silver arrow-shaped leaves.
Cyclamen intaminatum is a diminutive plant native to Turkey. The flowers, which are white with grey veins or pale pink, appear in autumn, emerging either before or along with the leaves. The leaves are almost round and are either plain green or have a grey marbling in the center. Cyclamen intaminatum is fairly hardy, but due to its small stature is usually grown in pots or in an alpine garden. (Hardiness Zone 5-8, at least)
Cyclamen libanoticum is native to Lebanon and has large flowers which appear in early spring. The flowers open white and turn pale rose pink, particularly towards the tips of the petals. There is a small crimson-magenta blotch at the base of each petal. The leaves are greyish-green, usually with a grey marbled pattern. Although cold hardy, it does not like both low temperatures and wet conditions, and the flowers are often damaged by freezing temperatures. Plant it amongst tree roots or against the base of a wall for best results. (Hardiness Zone 7-10)
Cyclamen mirabile is a group of little tubers that we love, not only for the charming pink flowers produced in fall, but also for the highly ornamental silver dollar-sized foliage which is often intricately patterned in silver and green. The 1″ very pink flowers nod, as is typical of the genus, and the individual petals are often twisted. New foliage emerges in autumn and is sometimes flushed pink. This species is native to Turkey on rocky hill slopes. (Hardiness zone 6-8 at least)
Cyclamen mirabile ‘Tilebarn Anne’ is an overall silver leafed form with pink flowers. The leaf veins are quite marked and impart a striking character to the bright silver leaves, which usually have a strong pink hue when they first appear.
Cyclamen mirabile ‘Tilebarn Jan’ is a white flowered form of Cyclamen mirabile sometimes with a pink blush to the nose of the flower.
Cyclamen mirabile ‘Tilebarn Nicholas’has a leaf with a Christmas tree shape in the center, surrounded by a wide pink/silver band.
Cyclamen parviflorum is a very small alpine plant from northeast Turkey that we do not currently grow here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden. It is difficult to grow and is the smallest known cyclamen. It has small green heart-shaped leaves and pink or purple flowers. It is quite cold hardy but cannot tolerate heat. (Hardiness Zone 5-7a, guessing)
Cyclamen persicum (Florist’s Cyclamen) grows wild in Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, the Greek Algeria and Tunisia, but not in Persia as the name implies. Cyclamen persicum is the parent species of the florist’s cyclamen but the cultivated varieties no longer resemble the wild types. The flowers are generally fragrant, white or soft pink with a deep pink or crimson-magenta zone at the base of each petal and appear in late winter through spring. The leaves are green, often with marbling on the upper surface. Cyclamen persicum is principally a tender plant which will not tolerate frost, but there are some potentially cold-tolerant taxa from high altitude populations that we are trialing here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden. Although there are a small number of inter-specific hybrids, the common usage of the term “cyclamen Hybrids” or “Florist’s Cultivars” refers to intra-specific hybrids of Cyclamen persicum origin. (Hardiness Zone 9b, guessing)
Cyclamen persicum f. puniceum Lebanon form has flowers that are usually darker pink than plants from other locations. Cyclamen pseudibericum is a choice late winter and early spring flowering species that flowers alongside Cyclamen coum. The clumps are composed of toothed heart shaped dark green leaves (purple underneath), often highlighted with dramatic silver patterns. The flattened clumps of foliage on this Turkish native are topped with dense clusters of light to dark pink, shooting star-like, large, fragrant flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7-8)
Cyclamen pseudibericum f. roseum is a 1966 introduction that was collected at Dortyol in Turkey. The flowers are a beautiful rose pink.
Cyclamen purpurascens is a Mediterranean species that we have had good luck with, provided it is planted where it can stay fairly dry in the summer months. In the wild, it is found on alkaline soils throughout much of Europe, hailing from as high as 4,200 feet elevation…further north than any other cyclamen species. The round patterned leaves and dark pink fragrant flowers spring alive in June and continue into August, adding great color to the summer woodland garden. In colder climates, great drainage in the winter is key to good survival. This species does not go dormant and retains its leaves throughout the year. The seeds are slow to germinate. (Hardiness zone 5-7 probably colder)
Cyclamen repandum, which is native to Italy, Corsica, and Algeria, is considered by some gardeners to be the loveliest of the hardy cyclamen species. The leaves are ivy-shaped with a slightly dentate edge and a variety of silver patterns. The sweetly-scented flowers, often with twisted petals, are pink to purple and are produced in profusion. Cyclamen repandum is considered to be difficult to grow because it does not tolerate being too wet or too dry and does not tolerate too much exposure to wind. We do not currently grow this species here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden, but according to plantswoman Nancy Goodwin, this and its relatives are best when planted 2-3″ deep. (Hardiness Zone 7-9, guessing)
Cyclamen rhodium (syn: C. repandum ssp. rhodense) is the result of tremendous taxonomic confusion. It has been lumped in with Cyclamen repandum, but is much more closely allied, however, to C. balearicum and has performed very well for us in the garden. (Hardiness Zone 6-9, guessing)
Cyclamen rhodium ssp. peloponnesiacum (syn. Cyclamen repandum ssp. peloponnesiacum, Cyclamen peloponnesiacum) is native to the Peloponnese area in the south of Greece. It is particularly valued for the attractive leaf markings which are spotted and splashed with silvery-white. It has pale pink flowers bearing a deeper pink nose. (Hardiness Zone 6-9, guessing)
Cyclamen rohlfsianum is a rare, difficult to cultivate species that grows only on the foothills in Libya. It is reportedly not frost-tolerant but we are trialing it here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden. It has pink, sweetly fragrant flowers in the autumn. The leaves, whose lower surface is either purplish or red, appear in late summer, and are unique in the genus. They are dark green with light green or silver patterns with an ivy geranium or maple-like shape. Cyclamen rohlfsianum is the only species that always has flowers with protruding anthers like Dodecatheon. Keep this one very dry. (Hardiness Zone 9-10, guessing)
Cyclamen somalense is a recently discovered Somalian species that we do not currently grow here at Juniper Level Botanic Garden. The leaves are rather fleshy, deep dull green with a marked silvery pattern in the middle above, with purple beneath. The flowers, which appear with the leaves, are pale pink suffused with carmine around the mouth and held just atop the foliage. (Hardiness Zone 9-10, guessing)
List of Cyclamen Hybrids
Cyclamen do not hybridize in the wild. In cultivation, they cross only with some difficulty because most species have different chromosome numbers. There are only 7 registered hybrids with 4 or 5 more putative crosses that have not yet been registered. Their traits are usually intermediate between the parents unless otherwise noted.
Cyclamen x drydeniae (Cyclamen coum x Cyclamen alpinum). The offspring generally have twisted petals and are fertile. (Hardiness Zone 5-8, at least)
Cyclamen x hildebrandii(Cyclamen africanum x Cyclamen hederifolium) is the first registered hybrid, created in 1955. The resulting plants resemble C. hederifolium on steroids, with a more muted leaf pattern. (Hardiness Zone 7-8, at least)
Cyclamen x meiklei (Cyclamen creticum x Cyclamen repandum) (Hardiness Zone 7b-9, guessing)
Cyclamen x saundersiae (Cyclamen balearicum x Cyclamen rhodium ssp. peloponnesiacum) has variable silver spotted and marbled leaves, and usually pink flowers. (Hardiness Zone 7-9, guessing)
Cyclamen x schwarzii (Cyclamen libanoticum x Cyclamen pseudibericum) (Hardiness Zone 7-9, guessing)
Cyclamen x wellensiekii (Cyclamen cyprium x Cyclamen libanoticum) is named after Professor Dr Ir. S.J. Wellensiek of the Agricultural University of Wageningen, Netherlands, who first produced the hybrid in 1969. It flowers over a long period during winter and sets fertile seed. The flowering period is greatly extended and lasts as long as 6 months. (Hardiness Zone 7b-9, guessing)
Cyclamen x whiteae (Cyclamen graecum x Cyclamen hederifolium) The flowers of this cross are unusually stubby. (Hardiness Zone 6-8, at least)
Hardy cyclamen are truly great garden plants and with a diverse collection so you can enjoy their flowers year round. Even without flowers, the intricately patterned leaves are stunning…sort of like snowflakes…no two are the same. Under the correct growing conditions, there are few easier to maintain plants in the garden…we hope you will enjoy trying cyclamens in your own garden. A special thanks to Nancy Goodwin of Montrose for her very helpful review and comments.
The Cyclamen Society, www.cyclamen.org
Indoor Care Instructions for Cyclamen Plants
Cyclamen are January’s Plant of the Month!
Here at Gertens, we offer indoor care instructions for cyclamen plants, one of the best winter bloomers. Over the years, growers have come up with many new hybrids for us to enjoy. Some have ruffled flowers, and some varieties are miniature, but all maintain a large bright flower, usually in red, pinks, maroons and white. All Cyclamen display green or variegated heart shaped leaves.
Easy to use soil moisture and light meters can help you ensure your Cyclamen and other houseplants receive the proper water and light. Mini-floral snips are handy for trimming and shaping.
Cyclamen are a great indoor plant – easy 8 weeks plus of color.
One of the reasons our Cyclamen last as long as they do is that we build up the base of the plant first. Proper variety selection, culture and nutrition will allow the plant to grow a lot of leaves – and with Cyclamen, leaves = flowers. If you gently push apart the leaves on one of our Cyclamen you will see lots of buds coming up from the center. You can also move a Cyclamen outside in April – the plant will take a freeze, but you should be careful to acclimate the plant so the change isn’t too great, both from a temperature and sunlight perspective.
Cyclamen are actually a type of bulb or more specifically a Corm (a short, thickened vertical stem). Their native habitat is the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. In your home, Cyclamen like to be a little on the cooler side with temperatures around 61˚F and in direct light or bright indirect light.
While in bloom, keep the root ball moist and feed the plant every two weeks. Cyclamen should be kept moist by watering in a tray and allowing the roots to take up the water rather than watering from above the plant which can lead to rotting. Remove yellow leaves and spent flowers.
When cyclamen are done blooming they can be discarded or the corm can be saved. After the foliage dies back, the plant should be left to dry. The corm should then be dug and repotted in midsummer and placed in a warm place so it can establish roots before returning it to a cool 55 – 60˚ F. to encourage flowering.
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