A cyclamen is a small, beautiful plant that flowers during the winter. This popular plant that grows well both indoors and outdoors, is native to North Africa, Europe, and the Mediterranean Basin. Cyclamen plants are in the Primulaceae family, commonly known as the Primrose family, and are a relative of the Ardisia plant. The best variety to use as a houseplant is the Cyclamen “persicum” also called a Florist Cyclamen or “Persian Cyclamen.” To ensure that your new cyclamen blooms for several months, purchase the plant in September, October, or November, and select a plant that is full of buds. At home, place it in a cool, bright area away from the direct sun, and you’ll be able to enjoy the large, colorful flowers all winter.
Cyclamen Plant Description
A Cyclamen plant develops from underground tubers. A tuber is a brown, thickened, enlarged, underground part of the stem that stores plant nutrients. It produces the roots that anchor the plant; and stems, leaves, and flowers develop from growing points at the top of the tuber. Some tuberous plants, like the potato, are edible. Other popular tuberous houseplants are the caladium and the tuberous begonia. A cyclamen is a compact, table plant, growing only 8”-12” ( 20cm – 50cm) in height, that produces colorful,- butterfly-like flowers atop numerous tall, upright stems. The flower stems reach far above the foliage and each stem has only one flower. The 2” (5cm) flowers have five petals and come in red, white, pink, or lavender; some even have a pleasant, sweet scent. The distinctive leaves of a cyclamen are heart shaped and marked with a silver design. New cyclamen hybrids may have ruffled leaves or flowers.
Although Cyclamen Persecum is the most commonly sold, there are several other hybrid varieties that have been developed over the years that make wonderful houseplants.
Persecum “Ruffled Cyclamen” has flowers, that come in many colors, with ruffled edges
Persecum “Wild Persian Cyclamen” has a lovely scent and are mini-sized plants.
Persecum “Albidum” has white flowers
Cyclamen “coum” (Eastern Cyclamen) has dark green and silver leaves and produces . white, magenta, or pink flowers. Best indoor varieties are Silver Leaf White, Silver Leaf Light Pink, Silver Leaf Dark Pink
Cyclamen hederifolium ‘Ruby Glow’ has dark pink or crimson flowers and heart shaped green leaves with grey and white patterns.
Quick Care Tips
Cool temperatures 50-60°F (10°-15.6°C)
Water from the bottomed and never get the crown of the plant wet
Bright, indirect light but no direct sun
Best propagated using seeds
Needs to go dormant and rest for at least two months
After Flowering Advice
Cyclamen plants bloom in the winter, so they are popular gifts for Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Although some people discard their cyclamen plants once they finish flowering, I recommend keeping them. These little gems will grow and re-bloom as indoor houseplants for several years if you remember these tips.
After a cyclamen plant finishes flowering, it needs to rest (become dormant) from late spring to early fall. Leaves turn yellow and the looks like it is dying. During this time, place the plant in a dark, cool area, allow all the leaves to die, and do not water or fertilize. You can remove the dead leaves. As soon as new leaves start to appear, usually around August or September, return your plant to its original bright, cool location, and resume watering and feeding.
During the fall and winter, indoor cyclamen plants need bright, indirect light. When your cyclamen become dormant sometime in the spring, put it in a darker, cooler area until it starts to produce new leaves in the fall.
People who have problems with cyclamen plants usually make the mistake of watering them from the top rather than the bottom. Also, never water the very center of the plant. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering. When your Cyclamen starts to droop a little, place it in a deep saucer of water for about 10 minutes, filling the saucer as needed. Allow the excess water in the soil to drain before returning the plant to its decorative container. Cyclamen leaves do not like to be wet, so try to keep them dry at all times
Unlike most house plants, a cyclamen likes to be fed in the fall and winter. Feed monthly during these seasons when the plant is actively growing with a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength.
Indoors cylamen grow faster and bloom more often in cool temperatures between 55°-65°F (12.8°-18.3°C). When cyclamen plants are dormant, during the spring and summer, place them in an area where the temperature is never below 45°F (7.2°C) or above 60° F (15.5°C). Avoid placing them in drafts or in front of heaters.
Cyclamen prefer high humidity. If the air in your home is very dry, place your plant on a tray of wet pebbles. Be sure the plant is sitting on the pebbles and not in the water. You can also place a small humidifier near the plant.
Remove dead flowers as soon as they appear. I’ve found that stressing a cyclamen by allowing it to droop a little before watering encourages it to bloom more often.
The main insects to look out for are spider mites. You can see a picture of spider mites and learn how to treat them in the Glossary of the website.
Cyclamen may develop gray mold and botrytis because of the high humidity they prefer. Never misting and keeping the leaves dry at all times helps prevent plant diseases. You can see what both of these diseases look like and how to treat them in the Glossary of the website.
Use a rich potting soil that drains well.
If your cyclamen has out-grown its container, re-pot during the summer when the plant is dormant. The new container should be no more than a few inches larger than the old one and have drip holes in the bottom..
Remove dead flowers and leaves as soon as they appear.
Propagate a cyclamen by dividing their plant tubers. Be sure each tuber has a “growing eye” and roots before planting them.
Indoor cyclamen plants need to rest from late spring to early fall in a dark, cool area. As soon as new leaves start to appear, usually around September, return your plant to its original bright location.
Cyclamen are perfect gifts for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day since this is when they are usually in bloom.
Poisonous Plant Info
Cyclamen are very poisonous plants with a #3 toxicity level. These plants contain saponins and all parts of the plant, especially the tubers and roots, can cause severe reactions if ingested. Cyclamen are especially harmful to dogs and cats.
Cyclamen plants get yellow leaves for several reasons. If the soil is dry and your cyclamen plant is drooping & turning yellow, it needs more water. If the soil is very wet and the leaves on your are turning yellow, you are giving the plant too much water and the roots are rotting. Always water a cyclamen from the bottom by sitting it in a deep saucer of water for 10 minutes.
Dead flowers and leaves on any plant should be removed as soon as they appear. Cyclamen plants prefer it if you gently pull off dead flowers and leaves rather than use a sharp scissors.
In order to flower, cyclamen must have a “rest” during the late spring and summer when many other plants just start to bloom. Cyclamen needs this rest to build up energy in its tubers to help the plant grow. In the fall, when new leaves appear, move your plant back to its bright location. It should be ready to grow and flower after this rest. Many indoor house plants like peace lilies, lipstick plants, and cyclamen flower more often when they are stressed a bit. Allow your plant to droop slightly before watering it from the bottom.
When it’s time for an indoor cyclamen plant to rest, move it to any low light, very cool area where the temperature is around 50-55°F. If you put your Cyclamen in the garage or the basement, be sure the area doesn’t get too hot or too cold.