Cyclamen is a perennial bulb with rounded, silver-marble dark green leaves and blooms that are sometimes fragrant. Flowers can be white to pink and carmine-red. Purple blotches appear at the base of each petal in winter. Cyclamen goes dormant in the summer heat.
Cyclamen is a tuberous perennial. Heart-shaped leaves form at the base of the plant; they can be marbled in light green, gray, or silver on the upper surfaces. Flowers are held above the foliage. Flowers are nodding and their petals sweep upward.
Cyclamen is a colorful choice for winter indoor growing. It requires ample amounts of bright light when growing indoors. It’s best to water cyclamen growing indoors from the bottom, resting the container in a saucer of water, and letting the soil take its drink.
Cyclamen is a genus of about 19 species of tuberous perennials native to the Mediterranean east to Iran and south to Somalia.
Get to Know Cyclamen
- Plant type: Hardy or tender bulb
- Growing Zones and range: Zones 4 to 7 for hardy types, Zones 7-9 for tender types
- Hardiness: Cyclamen grows best when summers are relatively dry with cool nights. Indoors cyclamen grows best in temperatures between 60° and 72°F (16°-22°C) during the day and 40° and 60°F (4.5°-16°C) at night.
- Height and width: 3 to 12 inches (7.6-30cm) tall, 4 to 8 inches (10-20cm) wide
- Foliage: Heart-shaped, silver-marked, green leaves
- Flowers: Tulip-like or “shooting star”-shaped flowers formed by 5-lobed petals that are either smooth or frilled and swept back from a central ring; flowers appear on upward-pointing leafless flower stalks; flower colors are shades of red, rose, carmine, magenta, violet, pink or white.
- Bloom time: Spring or fall in cold winter regions; late autumn to early spring in mild-winter regions
- Uses: Containers outdoors in spring and fall, indoors in winter; in the garden group cyclamen in a dozen or more plants for best effect.
- Common name: Cyclamen
- Botanical name: Cyclamen
- Family: Primulaceae
- Origin: Mediterranean eat to Iran and south to Somalia
Where to Plant Cyclamen
- Cyclamen grows best in partial shade; plant under the shade of trees or shrubs.
- Grow cyclamen in humus-rich, well-drained soil, but moist soil.
- Growing indoors the potting medium must be very rich and moist at all times.
- Cyclamen prefers a soil pH of 7 to 7.5.
When to Plant Cyclamen
- Set established cyclamen plants or tubers in the garden in spring or fall.
- Start seed indoors 8 weeks before the last frost.
- Start tuberous roots indoors 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost in spring.
- Sow seed outdoors after all danger of frost has passed; these plants will bloom the following year.
- Set plants or tuberous roots outdoors in their permanent location after all danger of frost has passed.
Planting and Spacing Cyclamen
- Sow seed indoors in pots or six-packs filled with fresh seed starting mix. Cover the seed with 1/8 inch of soil.
- Keep seeds at 65° to 75°F (18°-24°C); seeds will germinate in 7 to 14 days.
- Grow seedlings in bright light or under fluorescent light.
- Start tuberous roots indoors with the crown up, showing slightly above the soil; start tuberous roots in pots 6 inches (15cm) deep or more.
- Set cyclamen tubers in the garden just below the soil surface. Mark planting sites to avoid disturbing them.
- Thin seedlings when they are a few inches high.
- Space cyclamen 4 to 8 inches (10-20cm) apart in their permanent location.
- Cyclamen growing in containers indoors need bright light and high humidity to survive.
How to Water and Feed Cyclamen
- Cyclamen needs ample moisture; keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.
- Do not allow water to fall into the crown of the plant during watering, as this may cause rot; bottom watering may help prevent this problem.
- Add aged compost to the planting bed before planting.
- When plants are growing, fertilize once a month; when they are blooming fertilize every two weeks.
- After the cyclamen has stopped blooming, gradually withhold water and stop fertilizing.
- Mulch cyclamen with 2 to 3 inches (5-7cm) of chopped leaves for winter protection.
- Spread 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5cm) of compost over planting beds when the plant becomes deciduous in winter.
- Plants need a cool, dry rest period in the summer to rebloom. To aid dormancy, put the plants outdoors in a shaded spot and turn the pots on their sides, water occasionally to keep them barely moist until new leaves begin to appear.
- Weed around cyclamen regularly to avoid competition from weeds.
Growing Cyclamen as a Houseplant
- Cyclamen needs cool temperature, high humidity, and bright light to survive in the house.
- the potting medium must be very rich and moist at all times.
- Do not allow water to fall into the crown of the plant during watering; this may cause crown rot.
- Fertilize once a month when plants are growing; when plants are blooming, fertilize every two weeks.
- After the cyclamen has ceased blooming, gradually withhold water and stop fertilizing.
- When the foliage has turned yellow, let the plant dry out and store it in its pots in a dark, 45°F (7.2°C) area for three months. Then bring it back into the house and start watering to encourage new growth.
- Plants generally flower in winter and spring and rest over the summer when temperatures are high.
Cyclamen Common Problems
- Mice or squirrels may eat corms.
- Mold can be a problem when flowers and leaves stay wet.
- Cyclamen is susceptible to botrytis blight, spider and cyclamen mites, and thrips.
- If the tubers are large, they may be divided in early fall before new growth starts. Cyclamen may also be grown from seed.
- Divide cyclamen by separating corms without cutting them.
- Cyclamen cilicium. Autumn-blooming hardy cyclamen with twisted pink flowers and round leaves mottled with silver, grow to 3 inches (7.5cm) tall.
- C. coum. Hardy plant blooms in fall through early spring on 6-inch-tall plants; leaves are silver-green; flowers are shades of deep rose.
- C. creticum. Spring blooming species 2 to 3 inches (5-7.6cm) tall with white to pink 1-inch flowers.
- C. hederifolium. Hardy garden cyclamen to 4 inches (10cm) tall; rose or white flowers appear in late winter through very early spring, followed by round green leaves.
- C. persicum. Known as florist’s cyclamen; grows best around 60°F (15.6°C); may be difficult to grow outdoors. Some new hybrids bloom 8 months after planting seed; older types require 18 months to bloom; plants vary from 6 to 12 inches (15-30cm) tall with flowers up to 4 inches (10cm) long; some cultivars resist heat or cold better than others.
- C. purpurascens. Hardy species grow to 3 inches (7.6cm) tall, red-violet almost purple flowers are fragrant and bloom for weeks; evergreen silvery-green leaves
- C. repandum. Hardy spring-blooming cyclamen 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) tall with dark green leaves spotted with gray-green; bears small fragrant magenta-pink flowers.
Cyclamen Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I grow cyclamen indoors?
A: Cyclamens are among the most difficult of all plants for the living room. Cyclamen needs cool temperature, high humidity, and bright light to grow and survive indoors. The ideal temperature is 40° to 50°F. Living room conditions are too warm and dry, still, you can keep the plant alive for a few weeks in the living room. Place the plant in a window with bright light and the potting mix is just moist.
Q: What causes cyclamen leaves to turn yellow indoors? The leaves started to yellow not long after I brought the plant home from the nursery.
A: A sudden change from a moist greenhouse to a dry, hot atmosphere in the house is the likely cause. Cyclamen should be kept well watered, and away from too much sunlight. An east window is best. Make sure the potting mix stays just moist but not soggy.
Q: How should I water cyclamen indoors?
A: If cyclamen are kept cool–40° to 50°F–they will not dry out quickly. If kept in a very warm room, watering freely and frequently may prolong the plant’s life by a week or two, but it will not take the place of a low temperature. Water from below, or at the edge of the pot keeps the soil moist but not soggy.
Q: How long must I let a pot of cyclamen soak in a pan or water to wet it thoroughly?
A: If the water in the pan is halfway up the pot and the soil is moderately dry, allow it to soak for 10 to 15 minutes, then stand in the sink to drain off the surplus.
Q: How often should I fertilize cyclamen?
A: When plants are growing, fertilize once a month; when plants are blooming, fertilize every two weeks. After the cyclamen has stopped blooming, gradually withhold water and stop fertilizing.
Q: What do I do when the leaves on my cyclamen have all yellowed and died back?
A: When the foliage has turned yellow, let the plant dry out then store it in a dark, 45°F place for three months. At the end of three months, bring it back into the house and start watering to encourage new growth. Plants generally flower in winter and spring and rest over the summer when temperatures are high.
Q: Can cyclamen be grown from seed?
A: Cyclamen seedlings are easy to start if the seed is sown thinly in mid to late summer. It’s best to simulate greenhouse conditions for 12 to 18 months. Plants like a good loamy potting soil. They want full light but not direct sunlight. Water carefully and keep humidity high. In the fall and winter, the temperature should not be greater than 55°F.