Caring For Cyclamen Plants

Caring For Cyclamen Plants

One of the most colorful indoor plants for the winter season is the florist’s Cyclamen. This plant, Cyclamen persicum, has heart-shaped leaves, and bright pink, red or white flowers that rise out and above the foliage. Given the right care, these plants will stay in flower for two or more months. Here’s how to keep your Cyclamen in bloom for as long as possible:

  • Keep it cool! Cyclamen are cool-weather plants. Although they won’t live if the temperatures drop below freezing, they are happiest, and most healthy, in areas where the air is cool. If kept in an average room where the temperatures are always above 70°, the leaves will start to yellow and the plant will decline. In order to keep your plant longer, put it in a cool garage or 3-season room every night, and bring it into the house where you can enjoy the flowers during the day.
When you come into Hyannis Country Garden you’ll see that the Cyclamen are on our patio. Although this area of the store is heated, the temperature remains in the 50 to 60 degree range, which is perfect for this plant!
  • The florist Cyclamen plants like bright light during the day, but they don’t have to be in direct sun. In fact, a south-facing window might be too hot for these plants. Place them where it is bright but cool.
Cyclamen have five petals that bend outward and up. Some flowers are smooth on the edges, while others are ruffled like the plant in this photo. They remind me of exotic birds, standing on one leg.
  • Buds are formed inside the leaves and these rise up to open, one after the other. In order to keep these buds developing, you must prevent the plant from drying out. If a Cyclamen is ignored for so long that the plant wilts, those buds are likely to dry up instead of opening.
  • Watering: feel the soil in your potted Cyclamen every day. If the pot feels light in weight, or the surface of the soil isn’t moist, water your plant. Don’t water every day, however, especially from the top because these plants can be prone to crown rot if they’re kept too wet. For this reason, many people keep Cyclamen moist by placing the pot in a dish or bowl of water for a couple of hours, allowing the potting mix to absorb the moisture from the bottom up. You can either use this method, or water well as needed from the top down, making sure to saturate the entire rootball, then allowing excess water to drain. Wait until the soil starts to dry before watering again.
Look at the plant you buy to be sure it has buds that are forming and starting to grow upwards. To keep these buds developing, make sure the plant doesn’t dry to the point of wilting.
  • Many people wonder if it’s possible to keep their Cyclamen alive from year to year. Possible? Yes. Probable? Not so much. First of all, most houses are kept too warm for this plant over time. If you have a three-season room that stays about 50°, it’s more likely that the plant will live and do well. Secondly, these plants naturally go dormant in the summer when it’s hot. Whether indoors or outside, your plant is likely to die back to the ground and look as if it’s dead. If you want to try keeping your plant for next winter, put the pot outside in the shade for the summer, and water it every five to seven days…just enough to keep the roots alive but not so much that they rot. Finally, when the temperatures begin to drop in September, water more regularly and start to fertilize once the plant begins to put up new growth. Bring the plant indoors before hard frost, but grow it on in a very cool and moist environment.
One reason that this plant is called a “florist’s cyclamen” is that most people view it as a temporary plant, not one that they will keep alive for years to come. In other words, it’s like a very long-lasting cut flower bouquet. Don’t feel badly if you decide to toss yours in the compost once it stops flowering or begins to go dormant.
Cyclamen look nice when grouped with other plants in arrangements for the holidays. They are especially pretty with the lemon cypress, a lime-green small tree.
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