- Author: Leonard Cicerello
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leonard Cicerello UCCE Master Gardener
a: Zones vary by species.
Size: 2” flowers are borne on 2” to 8” stems.
Bloom season: Bloom season depends on the specie, from spring through winter.
Exposure: Morning sun and afternoon shade, or full shade.
Pruning needs: Minimal dead heading.
Water needs: keep moist, but not mushy. Treat them as shade loving plants.
Snapshot: Cyclamen are native to Europe, the Mediterranean region, and Asia. They are admired for their pretty flowers carried atop an attractive clump of basal leaves. The blossoms resemble butterflies and they come in white, shades of pink, rose, and red. They can go through a near-leafless or completely leafless period during the summer.
Cyclamen plants with the largest flowers are called florists' cyclamen (C. persicum). Selective breeding has resulted in the plants growing larger flowers. They have heart or kidney-shaped dark green leaves with silver mottling. They flower from late fall to spring.
Other species are smaller-flowered plants that are hardier and are better adapted to outdoor planting. Plant them in rock gardens or as carpets under shade loving plants such as camellias, rhododendrons, and large ferns. They are good container plants if not grown in full sun.
All cyclamen thrive in fairly rich, porous soil with lots of humus. Cyclamen grow from tubers and can be planted 6” to 8” apart and a ½” deep. Florists' cyclamen can be planted so that the upper half of the tuber is above soil level. The best time for planting cyclamen is during their dormant time during the summer. The florists' cyclamen is the exception again and can be planted out anytime. When applying mulch around the plants, be careful to not cover the tubers. Fertilize annually with a complete fertilizer and avoid disturbing the roots.
Cyclamen grow well from seed, though the small-flowered hardy species may take several years to bloom. Florists' cyclamen are only sold in containers. Cyclamen grown in the ground often self-sow.
Since the zones in which cyclamen thrive are specific to the specie, make sure that when you cyclamen you select is labeled for your zone. The same suggestion would apply to cyclamen seeds that you purchase.