Sunday, March 10, 2013


Cyclamens are one of my favorite winter houseplants and every year I purchase a few pots just after Thanksgiving and enjoy them well past Valentine’s day.   I like the miniature varieties over the larger ones because I can place them in my kitchen window.  I add a few bottle brush tress and mercury glass votive holders.

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Cyclamen Persicum (florist’s cyclamen) bloom nonstop with butterfly-like blossoms on wiry stems that rise above the heart-shaped leaves.  They come in many colors ranging from snow white to deep red.  They’re a better choice than poinsettias,  if you need a houseplant that can tolerate cooler room temps and they do well between 45F and 65F.  Anything warmer and the leaf edges tend to curl and get crispy. 

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When it comes to watering I would compare them to African violets.  They like to be consistently moist and they don’t like to dry out between waterings.  Watering from the bottom works much better than watering from the top because cyclamens grow from a “corm” which is a type of bulb that is concave in the center and sits just below the soil level so watering from the top can cause water to puddle in the center of the corm and rot it. 

I fertilize mine once a week with a few drops of liquid plant food.   I like to put about a 1/2 inch of water in each plant’s saucer and put them in a sunny window for a few minutes.  This helps wick the water up to the plants roots a little quicker. 

As for light requirements, Cyclamens do not like hot sun, but morning sun in an east window or light from a north or west window is OK.   That’s another point in their favor, as far as I’m concerned, because most other flowering plants need high levels of sunlight to bloom which isn’t easy to provide in my house during winter months.

Cyclamens need to go dormant after blooming, so once the leaves begin to turn yellow and the flowering slows down, cut back on watering and plant food.   You’ll see a gradual decrease in leaf production until it stops altogether.  I discard mine—they’re relatively inexpensive to buy and not worth my time to summer over but if you decide you’d like to try it, this is the time to move them out of the window into a cool dry spot.  You’ll still have to check them weekly to make sure that there is a small amount of moisture in the soil; otherwise the corm will dry out and die.

If you put them outside in summer, make sure to put them in a shady area  that has some overhead shelter from hard rain or lay the pot on it’s side.  Check them every week till you start to see tiny new growth sometime in early fall.   You can repot them in fresh soil at this time and increase watering but make sure that you plant them at the same depth in the pot and bring them inside before the temps start to drop below 50F at night.

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