Cyclamen Care: How to Grow The Cyclamen Plant
What would the cold winter months be like without the delightful cyclamen? The flowering cyclamen pot is a common gift around the holidays among gardeners and people passionate about plants. The cyclamen’s sweet-scented flowers and heart-shaped leaves embody the joy and spirits of the holiday season like only a few other plants can.
In fact, what’s there not to like about the tuberous perennial cyclamen? Its marbled foliage is rich and bright, the flowers come in various shades of red, violet, pink, and white, and best of all, as a houseplant, it’s easy to care for and maintain. Read on to find out how to grow the cyclamen plant and troubleshoot any issues you might come across.
Varieties of Cyclamen
Whether we’re talking about the perennial type or the houseplant, the small but hardy cyclamen dazzles with its variety. Some hybrids have larger blooms that last for weeks on end in the middle of winter. Others have richer foliage or a stronger fragrance. Here are the most popular cyclamen hybrids that people love to grow.
- Scentsation: The creative name describes the best feature of this cyclamen hybrid. It has a powerful scent that lasts as long as the flowers are in bloom. The flowers are often either red or pink and they’re open-pollinated.
- Sierra Series: While not exactly as fragrant as other cyclamen hybrids, the sierra series is a plant with large blooms that have shades of red, pink, salmon, and purple. The lilac variety is especially gorgeous and we recommend it to add life to a dark corner in your house.
- Victoria: Victoria cyclamen plants stand out with their white flowers laced with red tints around the edges. This hybrid is also open-pollinated and doesn’t require much care.
Keep in mind that most cyclamen hybrids look very much alike unless they’re flowering. So if you’re purchasing the plant at a nursery, the best time to do so is while the plant is flowering. Only then will you be able to know which hybrid you’re buying, and what it looks like in full bloom.
How to Sow Cyclamen Seeds
If you choose to sow cyclamen seeds in a pot, you’d be surprised to find how easy that is. However, there’s a bit of work and a lot of patience required. Cyclamen plants are not known for their fast growth. They often take about a year before their bright flowers make their first appearance in the pot. Also for indoor potting, it’s better to choose seeds of the large-flowered hybrids. So if you’re in for the long haul, here are the easy steps to sow cyclamen seeds.
- Soak the seeds in warm water for at least 12 hours to soften the outer shell and facilitate the germination. Rinse the seeds before sowing them.
- Sow the seeds in a pot keeping an even space between each seed.
- Cover the top of the soil with a thick layer of compost.
- Water the pot and cover it with a sheet of glass and another one of dark plastic to keep the light away. Store in a dark corner.
- Keep the room temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The seeds take between one and two months to sprout. Once the seedlings develop, remove the covers and put the pot in a bright place.
- When the tubers develop and two to three leaves come out of them, it’s time to separate the plants.
- Each plant should have its own pot. Make sure the tuber is level with the surface of the soil and add compost.
- Water the plants after potting them.
How to Grow the Cyclamen Plant
As a winter-blooming plant, cyclamen is rather sensitive to high temperatures. Some house plants go dormant and appear to be dead. This usually happens after the bloom season and although the plant looks like it’s dead, it’s just waiting for the fall to sprout again and come back to life. The same applies to perennial cyclamen grown outdoors or in greenhouses. So what do you need to pay attention to when growing cyclamen?
We saw how the seeds of cyclamen need total darkness to germinate properly. However, once the plant is growing, it needs plenty of light. Make sure it doesn’t get direct sunlight. During the winter and early spring when the flowers are blooming, the cyclamen needs to be in a bright place. However, during the dormant phase, you can keep it in a dark corner. Make sure it gets plenty of ventilation though.
Watering the plant during the growing cycle as well as during flowering is important to keep it healthy and improve the bloom and fragrance. You’ll know the plant is growing when you see the leaves sprouting and developing. Don’t let the soil go dry during those growing months. When the flowers and leaves drop, that means the plant is dormant. You shouldn’t water it during those times.
As a native of the Mediterranean, cyclamen prefers cool to moderate temperatures. It doesn’t thrive in strong drafts and dry weather is not to its liking. You need to maintain a cool temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the days and 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night. During the winter when the foliage is at its richest and the flowers are blossoming, keep the humidity high in the room.
Since the cyclamen plant goes through phases of growth and dormancy, it’s important to know how to take care of it as it progresses between these extreme phases. Two things stand out here as far as cyclamen care is concerned. They are fertilizer and toxicity.
While a multi-purpose compost is needed during germination, the growing cyclamen prefers a liquid fertilizer to boost its leaves and flower growth. Choose a low-nitrogen fertilizer since a nitrogen-rich one would burn the roots and might kill the plant. When the plant has all its leaves on, give it a moderate dose of the liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Water it after fertilizing to help the roots leach off the nutrients.
It’s fair to say that with all its bright and cheerful colors and anti-inflammatory characteristics, cyclamen pots can sometimes be too tempting for your house pets. Dogs especially like to nibble at the marbled leaves and bright flowers. Even cats are not above it. That’s a real problem because both the leaves and flowers are toxic. While not fatal, eating the plant can cause digestive problems to your pets. It’s always a good idea to keep the pots out of reach of the pets.
Cyclamen Post-Flowering Care
As the cyclamen enters its dormancy stage, the flowers drop and the leaves turn yellow. Whether the plant will come back to life in the fall and how well it will do all depends on how you take care of it during that summer hibernation. Here’s what you need to do during that phase.
- Don’t water the plant when the leaves turn yellow.
- Strip the stalks of any dead leaves and remove the fallen flowers.
- Move the pot to a dark place that’s well ventilated.
- Keep the plant away for about two to three months.
- It’s okay for the soil to be totally dry at this time. Don’t water it.
- When taking the plant out of its dormancy, move it to a bright spot that doesn’t get direct light.
- Water the plant thoroughly and let the excess water drain out on its own.
- Don’t water the plant again until you see leaves sprouting on the branches.
- Use fertilizer regularly.
Troubleshooting Common Cyclamen Problems
While a hardy plant that can endure dry soil and isn’t highly sensitive to bright light, the cyclamen plant comes with its own issues. Watch out for the following:
- Yellow Leaves: When yellow leaves appear on the plant that could either mean the plant is going into dormancy or that the conditions around the pot are not optimal. High temperatures and dry soil could lead to the leaves turning yellow. Move the pot inside in a cool place and give it water.
- Drooping Flowers: Another problem related to poor watering practices. Too much water makes the flower wither and droop. If the problem persists, the flowers will drop. Maintain good moisture soil. Too wet or too dry soil is not good during the blooming season.
- Deformed Cyclamen: Bugs cause the leaves to look out of shape and pale. Use a wet cloth to wipe the leaves and flowers and remove the pests. You can also use neem oil for better results.
How to care for hardy cyclamen during the winter when they’ve been planted outside? Will they survive snow and low temperatures? Or should they be dug up and brought inside/