During autumn and winter Cyclamen, both potted for the house and grown outside in the garden add a welcome burst of colour. As well as beautiful marbled foliage, cyclamen are easily recognisable for their sweptback flowers in shades of pink, white, purple or crimson.
Cyclamen are tuberous plants that are native to Central Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle-East. Their native habitat ranges from alpine meadows, deciduous woodland, and areas of rock and scrub. In most species the leaves of a cyclamen will come up in autumn, grow through winter, and die in spring, it will then enter dormancy as the temperatures rise in summer.
Here at Perrywood we grow over 20,000 cyclamen each year. These are all cultivars that derive from Cyclamen persicum, commonly known as florist cyclamen. Choices range from the half-hardy miniature ‘Miracles’ that are ideal for autumn and winter containers to the larger flowering ‘Halios’ series that are perfect for adding colour to a bright windowsill indoors.
Taking care of a cyclamen properly is essential if you wish to keep it as long as possible. Their vibrant flowers make this plant a popular houseplant and many customers often ask ‘How do I take care of a cyclamen plant’. In order to answer this it is important to understand a few basic requirements.
Cyclamen care begins with choosing the best position and the correct temperature. Indoor cyclamen prefer a bright spot away from direct sunlight. A windowsill that does not face south is ideal. In their native habitat, cyclamen grow in cool, humid areas. In order to thrive Cyclamen persicum cultivars need no more than 20°c during the day and a night time temperature of 10-13°c. Temperatures that are too high will cause your plant to yellow, and the flowers will fade rapidly.
The next essential part of taking care of a cyclamen plant is to ensure that you water it correctly. Cyclamen are sensitive to both over and under watering. Water your cyclamen plant only when the soil is dry to the touch, but do not leave the plant in this dry state so long that it shows visible signs of not being watered, such as droopy leaves and flowers.
By being aware of the three watering methods described below, you can obtain the best results when watering your cyclamen…
- 1. You can pour the water on from the top using a long necked watering can, pouring it around the edge of the pot while avoiding soaking the bulb in the centre of the plant or water touching the leaves. Do this 2 or 3 times a week, waiting until the soil is rather dry to the touch.
- 2. You can soak the base of the pot in a saucer filled with water and leave the water to penetrate up to the roots. Careful! No more than 15 minutes at a time, and then be sure to pour away the surplus water. The watering frequency is the same: 2 to 3 times per week.
- 3. If the soil is really dry, you should totally submerge the pot in a bowl of water, but this “bath” should not last longer than a few minutes.
In order to extend the flowering of your cyclamen you will need to deadhead regularly and inspect the foliage for any faded leaves or signs of disease. To correctly remove fading flowers and foliage follow the stem all the way down to the soil. Tug the stem upwards firmly, but not so hard that a piece of tuber breaks off. Do not cut the stems as this acts as a pathway for plant diseases such as botrytis to reach the tuber.
Many customers often ask if they can plant our Perrywood Grown Cyclamen outside. The answer is ‘yes’ but you will need to choose the correct varieties. Cyclamen ‘Miracle’ and ‘Winter Ice’ have both been bred as slightly hardier varieties of the florist cyclamen. They can survive the low winter temperatures but will still need protection from the hardest frosts. Keep them somewhere sheltered in free-draining compost and you should be able to help them through the winter months. For a truly hardy variety of cyclamen you will need to consider either Cyclamen hederifolium or Cyclamen coum. These two low maintenance varieties are ideal for difficult spots in dry shade and will make excellent groundcover.