Cyclamens are hardy plants that will add a splash of color to your garden at various times of the year, including winter. These are easy plants to grow, even for beginners. However, it is important to care for them properly for them to thrive. If you want to grow cyclamen in your garden, here is everything you need to know about how to grow and care for them properly.
An Overview of Cyclamen
Cyclamen is a group of 23 species of perennial flowering plants. They are sometimes known as snow bread or swinebread. The plant got these names because, in the wild, they are eaten by pigs. In the wild, these plants are predominantly native to Europe and the Mediterranean basin. However, there is one species that is native to Somalia. These plants grow from tubers and have the following features:
- Tuber- The tuber is the storage organ of the cyclamen. Roots may grow out of any part of the tuber. The shape of the tuber can vary between species, so some are almost spherical while others are flattened. Size is another feature that depends on the species and tubers can vary in width from 0.75-inches to 9.5-inches. The top of the tuber is the growing point, and this is where the leaves and flowers will sprout. Growing points develop woody stems called floral trunks.
- Leaves- Each leaf grows from the tuber and has its own stem, and these stems curl upwards. The leaf shape varies from one species to the next. The color of the upper leaf also varies, but most are variegated with different shades of green and silver.
- Flowers- When cyclamen flowers depend on the species. Each flower has its own stem that grows from the growing point of the tuber and these stems curl downwards. The flowers each have five petals that vary in shape depending on the species. Cyclamen come in many colors, with the most common being shades of white, pink, or purple. The style protrudes slightly, and the stamens are inside the flower.
- Fruit- When fruit begins to form, the flower stem bends. The fruit is a round pod that contains sticky seeds when it is mature. The seed is dispersed naturally when ants eat the sticky covering and then discard the seeds.
It is believed that there are 23 species of cyclamen. The Allotment Garden recommends the following varieties for your garden:
- Cilicium- This is a species that flowers in the fall. It has either purple or pink flowers and a sweet scent.
- Alpinium- A sweetly scented purple flower that flowers in the early spring.
- Hederifolium- One of the hardiest species, this variety of cyclamen flowers from late summer to Autumn.
- Coum- Another hardy variety, coum has heart-shaped leaves that are pink, white, or purple. It flowers from January to March.
- Mirabile- This variety has broad-shaped leaves and fragrant flowers that are shades between white and deep pink. It can survive mild frosts.
- Purpurascens- A hardy variety that flowers in the summer. It has variegated leaves and deep pink flowers.
- Intaminatum- This is an alpine variety that flowers in the fall and has pale pink or white flowers.
Florists’ cyclamen is derived from cyclamen persicum, which is a species native to the Mediterranean islands and the Eastern corner of the Mediterranean. They are also grown specifically for the purposes of selling to florists. Thanks to technology, you can buy cyclamen year-round from many florists.
Why Choose Cyclamen?
There are many reasons why you should choose cyclamen plants for your garden or home. Some of these include:
- Hardiness- One of the main reasons to choose this flower is because of its hardiness. It can withstand most soil and weather conditions, so it is suitable for many types of garden in most climates.
- Fill shaded areas- It is difficult to find plants that grow well in shaded areas. This is particularly problematic if you have a small garden that gets very little sun. Cyclamens make a great choice for such gardens as they add some greenery and color to areas that you otherwise be neglected.
- Winter color- Often, a garden is a dull place during the colder months as there are few flowers that thrive at this time. This is the reason that cyclamen is such a great choice because you can add splashes of color around your garden in colder weather.
- Pretty flowers- The flowers of cyclamen are pretty and delicate. This means they are visually appealing.
- Easy to grow- Regardless of whether you are an experienced gardener or a gardening novice, you can grow cyclamen because they are so easy to grow.
- Little care required- Once you have planted cyclamen, they require very little care. These low-maintenance plants take care of themselves, so they are ideal for people with busy lives who do not have lots of time spare to spend tending their garden.
- Versatility- This is a versatile plant that you can grow indoors as a houseplant, in outdoor containers, or in your garden. This means that the plant is suitable even if you do not have a garden as you can grow them on your windowsill.
- The sweet scent- If you want a fragrant garden, then cyclamen can contribute to this as they have a sweet smell.
When and Where Should You Plant Cyclamens?
Cyclamen are hardy plants that can grow in most conditions. However, the following tips will help you decide where is the best location for your cyclamen and when you should plant them.
- Cyclamen will grow in most conditions but avoid planting them in direct sunlight
- Shaded areas and drier soils are best for cyclamen. In shady locations, they will bloom profusely.
- Cyclamen are good plants to choose for planting beneath deciduous plants.
- Choose an area with soil that drains well. You can test this by pouring water onto the soil. Return five minutes later and see if the water has absorbed into the soil or if it is still pooling on the surface.
- The pH of the soil is not an important factor to consider.
- If you plant out your cyclamen in late September or October, you will have a display of flowers in the spring.
- If you grow the plants indoors first, keep them indoors until they are approximately eight centimeters high. You can then plant them outdoors.
How to Grow Cyclamen
Gardening Direct provides the following instructions for planting cyclamen in a container:
- Fill a container three-quarters full with compost.
- Remove the cyclamen from its tray and position in the container.
- Cover the tuber and roots with compost and pat down firmly.
- Water the plants immediately.
If you are planting your cyclamen directly into the garden, then use these tips to help them thrive:
- Make a small hole in the soil to shallow plant the tuber.
- Place the tuber in the hole with the concave side facing upward and the convex side pointing down.
- Cover the tuber with approximately one-inch of soil.
- If the plant is already established, dig the hole large enough to fit the tuber and roots. Place the plant into the hole, cover with soil, and water.
When the plant flowers will depend on the species. However, most plants have a period of dormancy in the warmer months and then flower in the cooler months. The flowers are plentiful and have a delicate appearance next to the robust leaves.
Cyclamen Care Tips
Cyclamen are a fantastic choice for novice gardeners because they need very little care. However, you will get the most of these plants if you use these tips:
- Do not overwater cyclamen. Wait until the soil is dry before watering.
- If the soil is clay-based, add a little grit to give better drainage.
- When you notice damage to the crown or bud of the cyclamen, remove it straight away. If the problem continues, you may need to remove the plant as it is possible that it has cyclamen mites.
- There is no need to feed outdoor cyclamens with plant foods
- Remove any dead leaves to avoid rotting.
- Do not water the center of the plants as this is a major cause of rotting.
- Adding a good mulch in hot weather can help to prevent these plants from drying out.
Cyclamen as Houseplants
You can grow cyclamen as a houseplant in a pot using the following tips from Cyclamen.org:
- Ideally, you should keep your pot plant on a window ledge that does not face south. This is because cyclamen need plenty of light but need to avoid long exposure to direct sunlight.
- Normal room temperatures are fine. Do not position the plant above a radiator as they prefer a cooler environment and the heat from the radiator is likely to kill the plant.
- Watering your cyclamen too often can cause problems, such as the leaves turning yellow or becoming floppy. Many people make the mistake of seeing the floppy yellow leaves and giving the plant more water as a remedy when the opposite action is required.
- Wait until the soil in the pot feels quite dry before you water the plant to avoid overwatering. You can water from the top or the bottom.
- Make sure that water can drain from the pot easily and pour away any water that remains after five minutes.
- Avoid getting the center of the plant wet as this can lead to rotting.
- You can give your plant liquid food, but this will produce more foliage than flowers. Do not give liquid food to your plant any more often than once every two weeks.
- Remove any dead leaves or stems to avoid rotting.
Getting a Cyclamen Pot Plant to Rebloom
According to Gardening Know How, there are certain steps you should take if you want your cyclamen to rebloom. You should wait until your cyclamen has finished its dormant period. You can then bring it out of storage and water the plant, making sure you completely soak the soil. Check that the tuber has not outgrown the pot. If it has, then you should repot the plant in a larger pot. You can resume normal cyclamen care as soon as the leaves begin to grow. Soon after, your plant should rebloom and regain its former glory.
Problems Associated with the Cyclamen Plant
If you have cyclamens in your garden, they may experience a number of problems. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, these can include the following:
- Glasshouse red spider mite- These are a problem if you are growing your cyclamens under glass.
- Vine weevil- This is another common problem when cyclamen plants are grown under glass.
- Mice and grey squirrels- These animals tend to dig up tubers and eat them.
- Fungal diseases- Various fungal diseases can affect cyclamens. These include cyclamen gray mold and damping off of seedlings.
- Caterpillars- Some caterpillars eat the leaves of cyclamen plants, especially the caterpillars of the Gothic moth.
Interesting Facts About Cyclamen
Cyclamen are interesting and unusual plants for many reasons. Here are some interesting facts about this plant:
- The petals bend upwards like flames.
- The flowers often appear before the leaves, which is unusual compared to other plants.
- The seed pods become like a corkscrew when they are ripe, and they bury themselves into the ground.
- Some varieties can withstand temperatures as low as -10 degrees Celsius.
Cyclamen – The Verdict
Cyclamen is a hardy perennial that can live in most conditions. They have colorful and aromatic flowers that add sensual appeal to any garden. They are easy to grow and care for, so they are suitable for people of all gardening ability. You can even grow them in containers or as a household plant. This plant has many benefits that make it an appealing plant to consider for your home or garden.