How to Grow Cyclamen Plant

This plant looks like it’s from outer space, but it’s actually quite easy to care for. If you’re looking for a plant that’s a little bit out of the ordinary, the Cyclamen Plant is a great choice.

Cyclamen Plant Overview


Cyclamens are low-growing perennials that belong to the primrose family. They are found in woods and rocky areas in Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa. Hardy cyclamens can be grown in gardens throughout the United States. Cyclamen plants have heart-shaped leaves and produce showy flowers that bloom in shades of pink, rose, lavender, or white from late summer through fall.

There are about 20 species of cyclamen. The most popular species for gardening is Cyclamen purpurascens, or hardy cyclamen. Hardy cyclamens can be found growing wild in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. They grow best in USDA plant hardiness zones 6 through 9.

Planting and Care

Cyclamen like cool temperatures and dappled sunlight so they are perfect for growing in shaded areas. They should be planted in a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. While they prefer slightly acidic soil, they will tolerate neutral to slightly alkaline soils. Good drainage is essential as cyclamen do not like to have soggy roots. They can be propagated by seed or division.

Soil and Fertilizer

Cyclamen prefer a light, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. They will not tolerate soggy conditions. If your soil is heavy, mix in some sand to help with drainage. A general purpose fertilizer will provide the nutrients they need for good growth. Apply fertilizer before planting and again in early spring.

Watering

Cyclamen like to be kept moist but not waterlogged, so it’s important to make sure they have good drainage. Allow the soil to dry out a bit between watering, but never let it become completely dry. Water with tepid water to avoid leaf scorch, taking care to avoid getting water on the leaflets or flowers.

Pruning

Pruning is an important part of keeping your cyclamen healthy and looking its best. These helpful tips will teach you when and how to prune your cyclamen plant.

Pruning should be done in early spring, before new growth begins. You will want to remove any dead or dying leaves, as well as any that are discolored or damaged. If the plant is heavily overgrown, you can trim back the foliage to encourage new growth.

To shape your cyclamen plant, simply prune off any loose or straggly leaves. You can also cut back the stems to encourage a bushier growth habit. If your plant becomes leggy, cut the stems back by half to promote new growth.

Pests and Diseases


Cyclamen are generally trouble-free and require little care, but they can be affected by a few pests and diseases.

Pests
Aphids, whiteflies, and thrips can all infest cyclamen, causing the leaves to yellow and the plant to weaken. These pests are most likely to attack indoors, so regular inspection of your plants is important.

Diseases
Blight is the most common disease of cyclamen and can cause the leaves and flowers to turn brown and die. It is most often caused by overwatering or too much fertilizer. If you think your plant has blight, remove the affected leaves and flowers immediately and water only when the soil is dry.

Propagation

Cyclamen can be propagated by seed or division. Seed grown plants will flower in the second year. The main flowering period is generally October to May, with sporadic flowers at other times. Flowering may be prolonged if plants are kept cool and dry during summer dormancy. Flowers last 3-4 weeks.

Seeds should be sown as soon as ripe in late summer, or in early spring. If sowing seed collected from the wild, it is best to cold stratify for 3-4 weeks before sowing. Sow on the surface of a good quality seed raising mix and barely cover with vermiculite or finely milled sphagnum moss. Keep soil moist but not wet and at a temperature of 18-21°C (65-70°F). Seeds germinate in 21-30 days. Prick out seedlings into individual pots when large enough to handle and grow on in cooler conditions until of sufficient size to plant out in the garden.

Division can be carried out with some care immediately after flowering while the plants are still in their active growth phase.

Cyclamen in the Landscape


Cyclamen are charming, small-flowered plants that are found in a wide range of colors including white, pink, purple, and red. Cyclamen make excellent additions to the landscape, and they can be planted in both sun and shade. When grown in shady areas, cyclamen will produce more flowers. When grown in sunnier areas, cyclamen will produce more leaves.

Cyclamen are native to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. Cyclamen prefer cool temperatures and well-drained soil. Cyclamen go dormant in the summer and can tolerate some drought during this time. However, it is important to keep cyclamen watered during their active growing season from fall through spring.

To plant cyclamen in the landscape, choose a location that receives partial sun to full shade and has well-drained soil. If you are planting cyclamen in pots or containers, be sure to use a potting mix that drains well. Plant cyclamen bulbs (corms) 3-4 inches deep and space them 4-6 inches apart. Water regularly after planting and fertilize monthly with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10.

Once established, cyclamen are relatively low maintenance plants that will naturalize over time. If you live in an area where cyclamanemums winter over (such as USDA zone 7 or above), then you can leave your plants in the ground year-round. In colder areas (USDA zone 6 or below), lift your bulbs after they go dormant in the summer and store them indoors until fall when you can replant them outdoors again.

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