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Plant of the Month: Cyclamen

By Ransoms | 1st September 2023 | 4 min read

This popular winter time flowering plant is a beloved perennial with 20 different accepted species in the Primrose family. The plants grow from a tuber and have no stem above the ground. Long-stalked roundish or kidney-shaped leaves, often variously marked, grow from the base. Solitary flowers grow on stalks less than 30 cm (12 inches) tall. After flowering, the flower stalk often twists into a spiral, so bringing the capsular fruit close to the ground.

Flowering time depends on the species. Cyclamen hederifolium and Cyclamen purpurascens bloom in summer and autumn, Cyclamen persicum and Cyclamen coum bloom in winter and Cyclamen repandum blooms in spring.
Some cyclamen are cultivated to survive indoors, though the preferred temperature is somewhere around 15 degrees Celsius, which means that when kept indoor the plant often struggles because it is kept too warm. Unfortunately even in the garden, all too often these plants get discarded once blooming ceases simply because people are unaware of how to properly care for cyclamen. Although keeping cyclamens after blooming is a bit of a challenge, it is possible. Proper light and temperature are the keys to caring for cyclamen after flowering.

The plant requires a period of dormancy during the summer, so the tuberous root has time to re-energize for the coming blooming season. Here are the steps:

  • Gradually cut back on watering when the leaves begin to wilt and turn yellow.
  • Use scissors to remove all remaining dead and dying foliage.
  • Place the tuber in a container with the top half of the tuber sitting above the surface of the soil.
  • Put the container in a cool, shady room, away from bright or direct light. Be sure the plant isn’t exposed to frost.
  • Withhold water and fertilizer during the dormant period – generally six to eight weeks. Watering during dormancy will rot the tuber.
  • As soon as you see new growth, sometime between September and December, move the cyclamen into bright sunlight and water the plant thoroughly.
  • Keep the cyclamen in a cool room with daytime temperatures between 16 to 18 degrees C., and nighttime temps at about 10 degrees C.
  • Feed the plant monthly, using a liquid fertilizer for indoor plants.
  • Watch for the cyclamen to rebloom in midwinter, as long as conditions are just right.

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