Growing Cyclamen

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This Article Provides Tips For Planting And Caring For Cyclamen Plants
by Maple Tree · Zone 7A · 0° to 5° F to Zone 9B · 25° to 30° F · Perennial Plants · 0 Comments · November 25, 2015 · 3,475 views

Many have seen Florist's Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) showing up in the grocery stores, nurseries, and garden centers during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. For me it has always been a great plant used in the garden and home adding wonderful color throughout the cooler seasons of Fall, Winter, and Spring. Flowers in white, red, pink, and variations of these colors along with the heart shaped leaves, some with intricate, silvery patterns add wonderful color in the garden or in pots. My red and white flower colored cyclamen planted along with my holiday poinsettias are a real reminder to all who visit that Christmas is near. All colors of cyclamen make wonderful living gifts for the holidays that people can enjoy for many years.

In the right conditions, the cyclamen will bloom continuously starting in the Fall and continuing many times well into Spring. Like many plants native to the eastern Mediterranean climate their growing season is cool and damp. They do well in cool temperatures that drop into the 40s at night with days rising into the 60s during the day. During the hot, dry summer months the cyclamen will have no signs of growth as this is their dormancy period. In Spring as the temperatures rise the leaves will turn yellow then brown as they die back along with any flowering stems. For me this is signaling not only the cyclamens' time for resting but time to think about planting my warm weather annuals. There are fewer choices during the cooler months for flowering perennials but if you live in a climate with mild winters the cyclamen may be one you will want to add to your others. Those living in colder climates can enjoy the cyclamen as a houseplant during the Winter.

Cyclamen can tolerate most soils as long as they are well draining. They prefer a slightly alkaline soil, but a soil pH below 5.5 should be avoided. Plant the corm (tuber) concave side facing up. I plant my corms so that only 1/2 to 3/4 of the corm is buried; otherwise they can easily rot with too much moisture in the crown. Plant smaller corms (1" to 2" diameter) 4" to 6" apart and larger corms 8" to 10" apart. When planted in pots use a quality planting mix or soil that is well draining. Make sure the pots have holes in the bottom for drainage and always empty any standing water in a tray that may be used under the pot. Water in the tray will keep the soil too wet. Too wet a soil can cause root and corm rotting. Avoid any overhead watering as this can cause crown rotting and fungal diseases. It is best to water at the base of the plant. I have found it best to let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings but not so dry that the leaves and flower stems start to wilt. Cyclamen like to be kept damp but never too wet or dry. When the pot feels light or the soil in the pot or garden feels dry just below the surface, water thoroughly. Cyclamen like plenty of bright light but no direct afternoon sunlight. Bright shade, filtered light, or morning sun is best. Flowering will be less abundant in to much shade. In the home place them close to a window that receives maximum sunlight most of the day. Cyclamen like cooler temperatures and need to be placed in a location away from any forced air heating ducts. Feed your cyclamen during its active growth period. Use a low nitrogen, water soluble fertilizer for use on indoor flowering plants, mixed half strength. Feed every 3 to 4 weeks. Do not over feed as this tends to promote more foliage and less flowers.

To keep the plants blooming, remove spent flowers by cutting the stems near the base of the plant. If flowers are left the pedals will fall off leaving a round seed pod that looks somewhat like a flower bud. Remove these seed pods also along with any older yellowing leaves. You can always tell the flower buds from the seed pods as they are long and pointed unlike the more rounded seed pods.

In the Spring as temperatures get warmer the plants will look as though they are dying, but as long as the corms remain hard and plump, they are only resting. Stop watering at this time as they will not need to be watered during their dormancy period. Cyclamen you have planted in the garden can be dug up in the spring and stored during the summer months. Dig up the corms, shake off the soil from the roots, clean off the old leaves and flower stems and store them in paper bags. Don't use plastic bags or containers as they hold moisture which will rot the corm during their dormancy period. Using a pen or marker note the plants flower color on the bag so you remember which ones you may want in specific locations, pots, or used as gifts. If your cyclamen are potted remove the old flowers and leaf stems and move your plants to a cool shaded location for the summer months. Hold off watering your plants until you see the first sign of growth starting as fall approaches. When the corms start to sprout new leaves again in late summer or early fall you can start watering them again. Keep them moist but not wet. Because I live in a warm climate with long summers, in late September or early October I replant my stored corms in 4 and 6 inch nursery growing containers I had saved from my spring and summer annual plantings. I keep the plants moist and in shaded areas approximately 5 to 6 weeks or until the weather starts to cool. After this I then plant them back in the garden or larger pots to set in and around the home or give as gifts during the holidays. Many that live in cooler locations can plant their corms directly in the ground each year in early September. Remember Cyclamen like cool locations with plenty of light, but no direct sun light. Flowering will be less abundant in too much shade. At this time you can start watering. Again keep your plants moist but not wet.

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