How to grow and care for Cyclamens Indoors

Houseplant, Cyclamen

Botanical name: Cyclamen persicum
Family: Primulaceae

Cyclamens are cool climate plants with beautiful flowers and decorative foliage but can not last very long under room conditions. However with proper care they will bloom indoors for several months. They are low-growing, compact plants suitable where space is limited for instance they are perfect for a window sill or a hanging basket. Cyclamens are herbaceous perennial plants which grow from a tuber to a height of about 1 ft. The leaves are heart-shaped, fleshy and smooth-textured. The upper leaf surface has a green-silvery marbled color and the underside may be pale-green or reddish. Cyclamen persicum blooms from winter to spring. The flower are usually white to pink with a band of deep-pink at the base. The flower stalk is a long upright stem that rises above the leaves. Cyclamen persicum is native to North Africa across West Asia to Southeast Europe.

How to Grow Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum)

Light

Cyclamens prefer bright light away from direct sunlight. Cyclamens will also thrive under flourescent light. Learn how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants

Water

Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Allow the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Avoid wetting the foliage; water from the bottom or use the immersion method. Wetting the foliage can lead to crown and stem rot. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

Temperature

Cyclamens prefer cool temperatures between 10-180C. Protect them from cold and hot draughts. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.

Humidity

Cyclamens require humid conditions. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Occasionally clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth. Do not wash or mist the leaves as it can lead to crown and stem rot. Ensure good air circulation to prevent fungal infestations.

Feeding

Feed Cyclamens every 2-3 weeks with a phosphorous-rich fertilizer during the bud formation stage. Find out more on how to feed houseplants.

Repotting

Keep Cyclamens pot-bound to promote flowering. Repot during the dormant period when the soil becomes compacted. Repotting Cyclamens every 2 years should be adequate. Use a pot 1 size larger and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent waterlogging. After repotting place the Cyclamen in a shaded place and keep it dry. Resume watering after 6-8 weeks to encourage new growth.

Pruning

Pruning Cyclamens is easy. Remove spent blooms and any side shoots to encourage development of more flowers. Get rid of dead leaves to keep the plant neat and tidy. Find out more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Care for Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum) after flowering

After flowering is over and the foliage turns yellow, cut back the plant. Place it in a cool dark place and maintain the soil barely moist. Withhold feeding during this period which is about 6-8 weeks. As soon as new growth emerges, move the plant to a bright spot and water thoroughly. Keep the Cyclamen plant cool at temperatures between 16-180C and cooler night temperatures. Resume feeding the plant monthly with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. The plant should start blooming in about 2-3 months.

How to Propagate Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum)

Cyclamens can be propagated from seeds or by division.

Propagating Cyclamens from seeds
Cyclamen seeds do not last very long therefore ensure the seeds are very fresh. Cover the seeds with soil and place the set up in a dark place. Maintain the temperatue at about 180C. The seeds should germinate in 20-30 days. After germination put the seedlings in a well-lit place.

Propagating Cyclamens by division
When flowering is over and the foliage has started to yellow, cut back the foliage. Dig up the Cyclamen tubers and clean off the soil. With a sharp sterilized knife, divide the tuber into sections. Ensure each section has a growing point (nub or eye) from which the foliage will grow. Place the sections in moist free-draining soil with the nub sticking above the soil surface. Maintain the soil moist but do not wet the nubs as it can lead to rotting.

Common Problems in Growing Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum)

  • Yellowing foliage, crown firm and healthy

    There are a number of causes of yellowing foliage with a firm and healthy crown in Cyclamens. Number one is hot dry air; to raise humidity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Number two are high temperatures above 180C; Cyclamens are cool climate plants therefore maintain cool temperatures between 10-180C. Number three is underwatering; maintain the soil moist but not soggy and do not allow the soil ball to dry out completely. Number four is direct sunlight; Cyclamens prefer bright light but away from direct sunlight.

  • Sudden wilting of leaves and flower stalks
  • Underwatering Cyclamens is the cause of wilting of leaves and flower stalks. Thoroughly water the plant and it should perk up. Pinch off any leaves and flowers that fail to perk up.

  • Short flowering period
  • A short flowering period in Cyclamens is caused by a number of reasons. One reason is too much warmth; maintain cool temperature for Cyclamen. The second reason is incorrect watering; maintain the soil moist but never soggy. The third reason is dry air; raise humidity by setting the pot on a wet pebble tray. The fourth reason is underfeeding; feed Cyclamens every 2-3 weeks with a phosphorous-rich fertilizer during the bud formation stage.

  • Plant collapse, crown soft and rotten
  • The cause of plant collapse coupled with a soft and rotten crown in Cyclamens is wetting of the crown during watering. This is an indication of Crown and Stem Rot Disease. Water Cyclamens from below to avoid wetting the crown.

  • Yellowing leaves with brown patches
  • Yellowing leaves with brown patches in Cyclamens are an indication of Botrytis Disease which is brought about by soggy soil and poor air circulation.

  • Twisted, stunted leaves

    Twisted and steunted leaves in Cyclamens are an indication of pest infestation. Common pests in Cyclamens are Aphids and Cyclamen Mites.

Toxicity

All parts of Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum) are toxic to both humans and pets. They contain saponins which if ingested can cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.

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