CYCLAMEN

FAMILY: Primulaceae

TYPE
  • Perennials
  • Tubers
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Regular Water

Plant Details

Native to Europe, Mediterranean region, Asia. Grown for their pretty flowers carried atop attractive clump of roundish to heart-shaped basal leaves that are reddish beneath and often patterned with silver above. Blossoms, 13 in. long, resemble shooting stars or butterflies and typically come in white and shades of pink, rose, or red. Most types go through a near-leafless or leafless dormant period at some time during summer.

Large-flowered florists' cyclamen (C. persicum) is most often seen as a container-grown gift plant. The other species described here are smaller-flowered, hardier plants better adapted to outdoor culture. Use them in rock gardens, in naturalized clumps under trees, or as carpets under camellias, rhododendrons, and large noninvasive ferns; hardy types also grow well under native oaks. All are good container plants if grown out of direct sun.

When buying any species cyclamen other than C. persicum, always check to ascertain that the tubers are commercially grown and not taken from the wild. Look for labels that mention Holland or cultivated.

C. cilicium. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Fragrant, pale pink flowers with purple blotches on 2- to 6-in. stems, fall into winter. Leaves are 12212 in. across, heavily mottled with silver. 'Album' has white blossoms.

C. coum. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Deep crimson-rose flowers on 4- to 6-in. stems in winter and early spring. Round, deep green leaves reach 1212 in. across. Selections with pink or white flowers are available.

C. hederifolium. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Light green, 2- to 6-in. leaves marbled silver and white. Rose-pink flowers bloom on 3- to 4-in. stems in late summer, early fall. One of the most vigorous and easiest to grow; very reliable in cold-winter climates. Set tubers a foot apart. A white-flowered selection is available.

C. persicum. FLORISTS' CYCLAMEN. Mainly grown indoors. Original species has 2-in., fragrant, deep to pale pink or white blooms borne on 6-in. stems. Selective breeding has resulted in large-flowered florists' cyclamen (the old favorites) and newer, smaller strains; with rare exceptions, fragrance has disappeared. Plants typically have heart- or kidney-shaped, dark green leaves in the 1- to 5-in. range, most often with silvery mottling. They bear crimson, red, salmon, purple, pink, or white flowers on 6- to 8-in. stems from late fall to spring. Potted plants can be kept from year to year by withholding water at end of blooming period. Let plants go dormant in summer. Repot in late summer, resume watering, and place in bright light. Make sure top half of tuber is above soil surface.

Dwarf or miniature florists' cyclamens are half- or three-quartersize replicas of standards. They can bloom in 7 to 8 months from seed. Miniature strains (profuse show of -in. flowers on 6- to 8-in. plants) include Miracle and Laser, both with fragrant blossoms.

C. purpurascens. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Distinctly fragrant, crimson flowers on 5- to 6-in. stems, late summer or early fall. Nearly evergreen leaves are 3 in. wide, bright green mottled silvery white.

C. repandum. Zones MS, LS; USDA 7-8. Bright crimson flowers with long, narrow petals on 5- to 6-in. stems in spring. Tooth-edged, ivy-shaped leaves to 5 in. long are rich green marbled silver.

All cyclamens grow best in fairly rich, porous soil. Loosen soil to a depth of 1 ft. and mix in coarse sand and lots of organic matter. If soil is acid, also work in some lime, as cyclamens prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline pH. Plant tubers of most types 610 in. apart, in. deep. (Florists' cyclamen is an exception: Upper half of tuber should protrude above soil level.) Best planting time for tubers is dormant period in summer except for florists' cyclamen, which is always sold as a potted plant and can be planted out at any time. Top-dress annually with light application of potting soil with complete fertilizer added (being careful not to cover top of florists' cyclamen tubers). Do not cultivate around roots.

Plants grow readily from seed. Small-flowered, hardy species take several years to bloom; older strains of florists' cyclamen need 15 to 18 months to mature and bloom from seed, while newer strains can bloom in as little as 7 months. Grown outdoors in open ground, plants often self-sow. To encourage this, mulch around plants with a thin layer of fine gravel. This provides niches where seeds can lodgeand has the added benefit of improving drainage.

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