Cyclamen – Cyclamen persicum
Its delicate, shimmering flowers held elegantly above a mound of heart-shaped, patterned leaves, the cyclamen makes a pleasing display through the winter.
Cyclamen are one of the most popular indoor plants. One reason for their popularity is that they are ideal gift plants – but although the leaves and flowers die down each year, you can keep the tuber and grow the same plant from one year to the next.
Native in many Mediterranean countries, cyclamen grow wild in many parts of Turkey and the Greek islands. The grow and flower in the cooler months, then lie dormant during the hot summers. These plants have been in cultivation since the early 18th century and today many hybrids exist.
Some have leaves, while others have delicately patterned leaves. The leaves grow in a central rosette or mound and the flowers are held on this stalks well above the leaves. Cyclamen are available with flowers that cover all the shades of red, in mixed colors and in white. Cyclamen bloom profusely from September through to March. Most larger hybrids have no fragrance but the miniature types may have a fine, faint scent.
Cyclamen Size and Growth
The larger plants grow to about 30-37.5cm (12-15in) and the miniatures to about 17-20cm (7-8in).
Colors and varieties
The best known and most vigorous varieties are the beautiful F1 hybrids. There are also miniature types of cyclamen. They are available in a number of strains and colors and they bloom as long and profusely as the larger plants.
Making new plants
You can propagate by dividing the tuber. Do this during the dormant period. Cut the tuber in two, dip it in a fungicide and replant both halves of the tuber.
A year with Cyclamen
Cyclamen are usually thrown away when the last flowers fade. Tubers can be saved for another year if you have facilities for keeping them.
April – July
After flowering, while the leaves remain fresh, continue to water and feed the plants. When the leaves turn yellow, stop waterin and feeding and allow the plant to rest for a few months. Move it outdoors , still in its pot, and put it in a shady positions. Stand the pot on its side so that the potting mixture does not get too wet in a downpour. All the top growth will shrivel and die.
August – December
In August you will notice some new leaf growth. At this stage re-pot the tuber, taking care not to damage the leaves. Bring it indoors and place it where it has bright filtered light. It will be flowering again by Christmas.
Small leaves and few flowers. This is due to lack of feeding.
Treatment : Follow instructions on label, as over-feeding is just as bad.
Dry spots on leaves and withered leaf edges. Due to strong light and air too dry.
Treatment : Mist frequently to raise humidity and place in filtered light.
Misshapen leaves are caused particularly by aphid activity. Check under leaves and on the plant’s petals.
Treatment : Spray with a suitable insecticide.
Leaves curled, plant withering. Due to mites. Treatment : No cure. It’s best to discard plant.
Grey mould on leaves is due to cold humid and stagnant conditions. Treatment : Remove affected parts and spray with fungicide. Reduce watering and humidity and increase ventilation.
Secrets of Success
General Care This is a relatively easy plant to care for, but it does need careful watering and should be in a coolish position. Potting : Re-pot in August after it has rested over the summer. Put it in a slightly larger pot and use fresh peat moss or a peat-based potting mixture.
Above and right : A white hybrid and a red variety with white edges. Some varieties have ruffled petal edges. Flower colors range from all the shades of red, through mixed colors to shiny white.
They enjoy high humidity. Mist and stand on a bed of pebbles. Water at the edge of the pot. Avoid wetting the tuber. You could also water by standing the pot in a saucer filled with tepid water for 20 minutes.
Feeding : Feed with diluted liquid plant fertilizer once a week during the growing period.
Cyclamen leaves are very attractive. Keep them in good condition by cleaning them with a soft brush. Don’t use proprietary brands of leaf cleaner or sprays on cyclamen leaves.
Light : Cyclamen need to be in a cool place with a little shade. Do not ever put them in fierce sunlight. Winter sunlight will not harm them.
Temperature : While flowering and growing keep it at a temperature between 10-15°C (50-60°F). While resting it will cope with normal summer temperatures out of doors.
When yo buy
Buy your plants from September to December so that you get the most from the long flowering period.
What to look for
Buy plants with fresh green, undamaged leaves. Check there are a lot of buds. Don’t buy them if they are standing outside they are often chilled.
You can save the tuber and grow it on from year to year although many people regard them as short-term gift plants.