plant of the month
(SY-kla-men, as a common name)
Cyclamen plants bear distinctive five-petaled blooms atop smooth, slender, leafless stems. The blooms are downward pointing but strongly reflexed; waxy; and sometimes ruffled, serrated or edged with a contrasting color. They rise above a dense base of fleshy heart-shaped or kidney-shaped leaves, which are often variegated (usually dark green with light green or silvery gray markings although some varieties feature silver leaves with green highlights).
Cyclamens are available in red, magenta, fuchsia, rose, pink, salmon, purple, lavender, lilac, white and bicolors.
Cyclamens typically bloom from three to five weeks, sometimes longer (new blooms replace the old). Once flowering stops, the leafy plants can survive for several more months.
Cyclamens are available year-round, but peak availability is approximately from October through March.
in-store and consumer care
Place Cyclamens in a bright environment but out of direct sunlight. During the winter months, however, these plants can tolerate exposure to direct sunlight for 1 hour to 2 hours daily.
Keep plants moderately moist—not soaked—at all times. Water thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Cyclamens are extremely sensitive to both underwatering and overwatering, so never allow plants to dry out and wilt, and, conversely, never allow the pots to sit in water for prolonged periods.
Ideally, place pots in a shallow container of tepid water for 15 to 30 minutes (the soil will absorb water from the holes in the bottom of the pots), then allow them to drain. If you water from the top, drip water just inside the edges of the pot to avoid getting water in the plants’ crown, on the tuber or on the leaves.
These plants prefer cool environments—preferably 60 F to 65 F during the daytime and 50 F to 60 F at night. Placing Cyclamens in a warm room or near heat sources will shorten their life dramatically. Also, these plants like fresh air, so placing them outdoors for a few hours a day, when temperatures allow, is beneficial.
When flowering, Cyclamens require high humidity. Place pots on a pebble tray, making sure the bottoms of the pots are out of the water. Also occasionally mist the air around the plants.
Although Cyclamens’ sensitivity to ethylene gas varies from slight to extreme, you should purchase only plants that are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower or during shipping. Flower wilting, shriveling, drying and/or drop are the effects of exposure to ethylene.
To help buds open, feed Cyclamens every two weeks with a high-phosphorous plant food mixed at half strength. Do not feed dormant plants.
Remove blooms as they fade and leaves as they yellow or dry, carefully cutting, twisting or pinching the stems off at the crown.
Many people discard Cyclamens when they begin to deteriorate, but they often can be brought back into bloom. After flowering, gradually reduce watering until the soil becomes dry, allow the foliage to die down, then clip it off. Place the dormant plant in a cool, bright room, providing just enough water to keep the roots from drying out completely. Then repot the plant in fresh soil as soon as new growth appears, leaving half the tuber above the soil surface. Gradually resume regular watering as the leaves develop (over two to four months). Blooms will follow.
YELLOWING / SHRIVELING LEAVES
Too-high temperature, too-low humidity, underwatering, exposure to direct sunlight, extended storage time
PALE / LIMP / DEFORMED LEAVES, BLOOMS
Spider mites and/or Cyclamen mites (see Pests/Mites)
SHRIVELING / DRYING FLOWER BUDS
Underwatering, not enough light, too-low humidity, too-high temperature, exposure to ethylene
Not enough light, underwatering, too-low humidity, too-high temperature, exposure to ethylene
SHORT BLOOM LIFE
Too-high temperature, too-low humidity, underwatering, overwatering, not enough or wrong kind of fertilizer, exposure to ethylene
PLANT COLLAPSE, ROTTING CROWN
Overwatering, water on the crown and/or tuber, too-high temperature
MOLD / FUNGAL DISEASE
Overwatering, water on the crown and/or tuber, too-high temperature, poor air circulation
PESTS / MITES
Too-high temperature, too-low humidity. Discard plants, or remove affected leaves and treat with a neem-based insecticide.
To view the gallery of Cyclamen plants please download the PDF.
If you have trouble viewing these PDF (portable document format) files, download a copy of the free Adobe Reader.
• Buy Cyclamen plants that have several well-developed buds that are showing color and, possibly, an open bloom or two.
WHAT’S IN A NAME
The genus name Cyclamen is presumably from the Greek word “kylos,” meaning “circle,” possibly in reference to the rounded tubers. The specific epithet “persicum” means “of Persia,” referring to the nativity of this species of Cyclamen.
Cyclamen is a member of the Primulaceae (primrose) family. Besides primroses, Cyclamen relatives include loosestrife (Lysimachia).
HOME SWEET HOME
These plants are native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Western Asia, including the countries of Greece, Turkey, Cypress, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and Iran.
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
Complete Guide to Conservatory Plants, The
by Ann Bonar
Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, The
by Barbara Pleasant
Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
Houseplant Encyclopedia, The
by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Krüger
House Plant Expert, The, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners
by William T. Stearn
Photos © Morel Cyclamen by Emmanuel Ulzega