Cyclamen


Cyclamen hederifolium


Listen to the Cyclamen Podcast Here!



Contents

  1. Top Tips
  2. Location, Water, Humidity & Fertilisation
  3. Dormancy Period & Annual Flowers
  4. Common Issues
  5. Origins, Temperature, Propagation, Repotting & Toxicity.


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Top Tips & Info

  • Care Difficulty - Moderate to Hard
  • A few hours of winter sunlight is beneficial, as long as it's checked regularly for dry soil. Once the foliage dies back, keep the potted tubers in a semi-dark, frost-free location until new growth seven months later.
  • Keep the soil moist, allowing the pot to feel light again when lifted. Never irrigate using the over-head method, as any moisture that settles in the cubbyholes of the tuber (storage bulb) will result in rot. Practice the bottom-up method of submersion to avoid such issue. 
  • Whilst in bloom, fertilise using a potassium-based feed, reducing this to monthly with a 'Houseplant' labelled product once the blooms elapse.




Location & Light - 🔸🔸🔸

Whilst the plant is in bloom, maintain bright, indirect light for quality growth. Never situate it in excessively dark locations due to the increased chance of root or tuber rot. If it's too dark for a newspaper to be read, it'll be too shady for the plant, as well. An hour or two or winter sunlight is highly beneficial for a Cyclamen as long as it's regularly checked for drying soil.

Once all of the foliage and flowers die back, usually at the end of winter, keep the potted tubers in the dark, cool location until new leaves re-appear in early August. If the plant still has its foliage during this time, keep the plant situated in a bright, indirect area with no direct sun. It's important to maintain dry soil during this period, as the plant won't be soaking up as much moisture, which in turn will result in rot.


Water - 🔸🔸

Allow the pot to become light again when lifted, using the bottom-up method of irrigation. Place the plant on a saucer one water around a quarter deep until thorough absorption. Repeat this step twice a week if needs be, especially with those grown in bright, warm locations. Splashing the foliage each time you come to water, the plant will immediately allow excess moisture to sit in the cubbyholes, causing grey mould to develop. If the bulb becomes mushy, it's game over. As Cyclamen go dormant during the spring and summer, be sure to reduce irrigations further to reinforce this crucial period. Either buy some bottled water from a convenience store or allow tap water to sit for around 24hrs before application to alleviate high levels of fluoride found in the tap. Under-watering symptoms include stunted growth, no flowering and crispy or yellow leaves; these issues are usually due to either too much heat/light or forgetfulness. Over-watering symptoms include mushy undergrowth, rotting flowers or leaves, and root or tuber rot. 


Humidity - 🔸

Average room humidity is more than enough to occupy a Cyclamen, as too high humidity and poor air circulation will result in powdery mildew. Botrytis petal blight is caused when excess moisture settles on the flowers' intricate bodies, harbouring detrimental bacteria to thrive.


Fertilisation - 🔸🔸

During the budding and flowering period, supplement using a potassium-based feed to prolong blooms. Once died back, reduce the fertilisations to every four to six weeks, using a 'Houseplant' labelled feed thereafter. Have a look at the table below to learn about when your Cyclamen's flowering and dormancy period will occur.




Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers

To get the most out of your Cyclamen, provide a sufficient dormancy period which must be served after flowering. Although most will go through this period during the spring to avoid drying from the Mediterranean summer, some will serve this period during the winter. Once the last set of flowers have elapsed, the foliage will begin to yellow and drop off in succession. Although the plant won't look overly impressive during its decline, avoid snipping of the remaining leaves as nutrients will still be being processed through the foliage. Once you're left with a bare tuber, re-hydrate the compost once most of the soil dries out to keep it 'ticking over'. Never over-water the tuber during this period as too soggy soil for extended periods will result in root or tuber rot. Some Cyclamen will hold their leaves throughout the year, and if this is the case, provide a location that offers no direct sunlight and temperatures above 7°C  (50°F)  to aid a better bloom later in the year.


A Cyclamen tuber which will need the foliar & flower stalks to be removed before its dormancy. Also, this is how shallow you'd ideally want to plant it in the soil, for the prevention of rot.


During storage, situate the potted tuber in a dark, dryish setting that offers good air circulation and temperatures over 8°C (46°F). A frost-free shed or somewhere with a small amount of light is an excellent setting for the Cyclamen during this time. After around seven months, small petioles holding the leaves will emerge above the soil line, signalling the start of the new season. At this stage, it's best to re-relocate the Cyclamen in a bright, indirect setting with increased irrigations. After a solid few weeks or foliar growth, supplement the plant using a general plant fertiliser every two weeks, swapping to a potassium-based feed during the blooms.



FloweringDormancy
C. africanumSummer & AutumnLate Winter & Spring
C. alpinumLate Winter & SpringSummer & Autumn
C. balearicumWinter & SpringSummer & Autumn
C. ciliciumLate Summer & AutumnLate Winter & Spring
C. colchicumSummerWinter & Early Spring
C. creticumSpringLate Summer & Autumn
C. coumWinterSpring & Summer
C. cypriumAutumnWinter & Early Spring
C. elegansSpringAutumn & Early Winter
C. graecumLate Summer & AutumnWinter & Spring
C. hederifoliumLate Summer & AutumnWinter & Spring
C. intaminatumLate Summer & AutumnWinter & Spring
C. libanoticumSpringAutumn & Winter
C. maritimumSummer & AutumnWinter & Spring
C. mirabileEarly Winter & SpringSummer & Mid Autumn
C. parviflorumWinter & SpringSummer & Early Autumn
C. persicum (sometimes labelled as 'Cyclamen Allure or Sierra')Autumn & WinterSpring & Early Summer
C. pseudibericumWinterLate Spring & Summer
C. purpurascensSummerWinter & Early Spring
C. repandumWinter & Early SpringSummer & Autumn
C. rhodium ssp peloponnesiacumWinter & Early SpringSummer & Autumn
C. rohlfsianumAutumnSpring & Early Winter
C. somalenseAutumn & WinterSpring & Early Summer




Common Issues with Cyclamen

A dark location (shelves, etc.) will promote the vines to develop small or no juvenile leaves, giving the impression of 'leggy' or naked growth. The length between the nodes will also dramatically become larger, harvesting less energy that can be converted into sortable sugars. Be sure to increase the amount of indirect light somewhat, and give the specimen a gentle supplement of 'Houseplant' labelled feed to help with its stored energy. 

Over-watering is the biggest issue when it comes to a Cyclamen. Typical signs of this include brown leaves with soft spots on the underside of the leaves, tuber rot or powdery mildew forming in the centre. Not only do you have to be mindful of root rot, but also have a think about which plant parts to keep dry. Its central crown must also remain dry at all times to prevent the development of basal rot or mildew. Avoid waterlogging; there's no point fulfilling a ukhouseplants' phrase, 'drenches in between near-droughts' if the base of the pot is submerged, as issues of rot will arise. For any more information about over-watering related issues, be sure to click on this link.

Too much sunlight will lead to sun scorch, with typical signs including browning or crispy leaves, dry leaf-edges, sunken leaves or stunted growth. Although too little light will cause over-watering issues, too much sunlight will negatively affect the plant as well. A location that offers over two hours of sunlight a day will bring the optimum growth for the Cyclamen. If yours has fallen short of this issue, reduce the amount of sunlight considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when too locations offer too different growing conditions). Remove some of the affected leaves and increase irrigations slightly. Only hydrate the plant using the bottom-up method.

As mentioned before, powdery mildew and botrytis are major threats among heavy foliaged plants due to the compact nature that aids the spread of the diseases. Watering above the foliage will allow excess moisture to sit in the cubbyholes of the stem, enticing harmful bacteria to thrive. Remove the affected areas and improve the growing conditions by situating the plant in a brighter location with the use of the bottom-up method of irrigation.

Over-supplementing a Cyclamen will bring nothing but grief in the likes of yellowing leaves and weak, dramatic growth. Although a monthly feed is an excellent way to promote healthy growth, the combination of dry soil and harsh chemicals will quickly lead to the burning of roots. The best advice for this issue is to pre-moisten the soil beforehand; not only will this remove the chemical-edge found in fertilisers, but it will also adversely remove the chance of damaging the roots.




Origins

Cyclamen is a perennial genus consisting of twenty-three species ranging mostly from the Mediterranean. Carl Linnaeus first described the genus back in the mid 18th century and named it after the Greek word for 'circle', kyklā́mīnos, which refers to the circular tubers beneath the soil line.


The Distribution of Cyclamen. 

Temperature

5° - 25°C   (41° - 78°F)
H3 (Hardiness Zone 9) - Tolerate to temperatures below freezing. Although it can survive frosts and thin snow, refrain from bringing it indoors overnight if the room temperature is above 5℃ (40℉), as a sudden change in temperature may cause environmental shock with weakened spring growth and a lack of flowers over the season's course. Instead, either leave it outdoors or in an unheated conservatory, brightly lit garage or a greenhouse until the risk of frost has elapsed.


Spread

Up to 0.3m in height and 0.6m in width. The ultimate height will take between 4 - 6 years to achieve.


Pruning & Maintenance

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean utensils or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.


Propagation

Via Seed or Tuber Division.

Seeds (Moderate) - This form of propagation is best done in the months of June or July, when the seed is most ripe. During this period, soak the seeds in lukewarm water for around 24hrs in a dark location, preferably on top of an operating radiator. The best soil to use is a Houseplant or Multi-Purpose labelled potting mix; however, multipurpose compost with added perlite and sand is as good. Set the seeds around 0.7cm (0.3 inches) deep, resisting the temptation to compact it. Maintain evenly moist soil and allow the excess water to freely drain from the pot's base to prevent water-logged conditions. The ideal location for successful germination is in a bright, indirect setting with temperatures above 18℃ (64℉) with bottom-heat. Keep the pot in a transparent bag to provide a stable level of humidity, along with longer-lasting soil moisture. Germination may take up to three months, so don't discard any unsuccessful seeds until this threshold has been surpassed. Remove the bag once the seedlings produce their second leaf and then split them into their own 7cm (3 inch) pots.

Tuber Division (Moderate) - For the latter propagation method, divide the tubers just before the growing period in late spring into individual specimens, all with roots attached. If it doesn't have roots, don't panic - these should develop once the growing period kicks in. While the plant is still leafless, keep the soil evenly moist with the compost drying out halfway before another water.


Flowers

Although most Cyclamen bloom during the autumn and winter months, many species can flower in other seasons of the year. To simplify when the top ten most popular species bloom, ukhouseplants have created a small list;

Summer & Autumn - C. hederifolium, C. graecum, C. maritimum, C. africanum, C. purpurascens

Winter & Spring - C. persicum (sometimes labelled as 'Cyclamen Allure or Sierra'), C. coum, C. rohlfsianum.

Spring C. repandum, C elegans.


Repotting

Repot biannually in spring using a 'Houseplant' labelled potting mix and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Cyclamen are far better potbound for several years due to the heightened risk of root rot and repotting-issues (like transplant shock), so only repot if you feel it's wholly necessary - restricted root growth will also increase the chance of blooms, too.

Hydrate the plant 24hrs before the tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those situated in a darker location, introduce an extra amount of perlite and grit into the deeper portion of the pot to downplay over-watering risks. Click on this link for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!


Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, aphids, scale, thrips, fungus gnats, blackfly, vine weevils & root mealybugs that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves, with the exception of the latter two in the soil. Common diseases associated with Cyclamen are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous, so if small sections are eaten, vomiting, nausea, and a loss of appetite may occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


Retail Locations

Specimens are likely to be found from late summer to late early January in most garden centres; it's not advised to bring outdoor plants inside because of environmental shock with the risk of introducing new pests into the home.



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