Cyclamen © Muffet

Cyclamen: Winter-Blooming Houseplants

Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) is an excellent winter houseplant because its colorful blooms peak in the late fall and winter, when most other flowering plants are dormant. The fragrant, long-blooming flowers are on leafless, upright stems and are shades of pink, white, red, or lavender. Leaves are heart-shaped with silver marbling.

Also called florist’s cyclamen or Persian violet, this somewhat unconventional houseplant requires cool temperatures and careful watering but will reward you with long-lasting flowers that will brighten up gloomy winter days.

To keep your cyclamen flourishing, temperature must be monitored, and the plant needs to be watered regularly, but must not be left in standing water. GoGardenGo has gathered all the information you need to grow a healthy cyclamen in this handy guide.

Where to Grow: Grow anywhere as a houseplant. Prefers temperatures 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and cooler temperatures at night. A few hardy species can be planted outdoors.

Blooms: Fragrant pink, white, red, and lavender flowers bloom in late fall and winter.

Soil: Regular potting soil.

Light Needs: Indirect light.

Water Needs: Keep soil moist. Do not get plant’s crown wet; watering from below is recommended.

Size: Grows 6-12 inches tall.

Propagation: Can be grown from seed, but can take up to 18 months to flower.

GoGardenGo Notes: Cyclamens are dormant from spring through late summer. Fertilize every 2-3 weeks with liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength.  

Cyclamen Temperature Preferences

Ideally, cyclamens prefer temperatures 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and cooler temperatures at night whenever possible. GoGardenGo has found that cyclamen can survive in temperatures as high as 68 degrees Fahrenheit -- don’t be afraid to experiment by carefully watching how your plant reacts to its environment and adjust accordingly. 

Although cyclamens should receive as much light as possible, direct sunlight is discouraged because it will raise the temperature too much. Ideal spots include cool rooms with indirect light, stairwells, and even a sheltered patio area at night.

If the the plant gets too warm, its foliage will yellow, and the cyclamen will produce less blooms, and the blooms will not last very long. Keep your cyclamen away from heat sources (such as heaters) and direct sunlight (usually south-facing windows in the winter).

Watering Cyclamen

Keep the cyclamen plant’s soil moist by watering it 2 or 3 times a week. Your cyclamen will let you know when it needs water -- the flowering stems will begin to droop. Although cyclamen likes moist soil, the roots and tuber are prone to rot. GoGardenGo suggests using one of these two methods to water your cyclamen: 1. Water the plant from below by putting the pot in a saucer of water for about 15-20 minutes. Do not leave the water in the saucer longer than this short amount of time, as the roots are prone to rot. 2. Use a long-necked watering can to pour the water around the inside edges of the pot. Avoid pouring water in the center of the plant, as the tuber is prone to rot. 

Fertilizing Cyclamen

While your cyclamen is blooming, fertilize it every 2-3 weeks with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer at half-strength. Resist the impulse to fertilize more than this, as over-fertilizing will will cause the plant to grow more foliage and less flowers.

Cyclamen Dormancy

When your cyclamen stops blooming in the spring, don’t give up on it! Cyclamens are dormant from spring through late summer. Allow the foliage to dry out, then prune it back. Store the dormant cyclamen tuber in a cool spot for up to 3 months, watering it sparingly. In the fall, re-pot the cyclamen tuber in a slightly larger pot, using a sandy soil mixture. Only cover about ⅔ of the tuber -- leave the top ⅓ of the tuber above the soil line to help with drainage and avoid tuber rot. Once you’ve re-potted the cyclamen, place it in a cool location with bright, indirect light and resume a regular watering schedule. It should begin to sprout new growth and eventually rebloom.

GoGardenGo’s Tips for Growing Cyclamens: 

  • As houseplants, cyclamens are susceptible to spider mites
  • If flowers or leaves die during the growing season, simply remove them with a gentle tug (rather than pruning them with scissors). They will be replaced with new leaves and flowers.

Related Links:

The Indoor Garden
Holiday Garden

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