Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) start to appear in garden centers and grocery stores. These perennial houseplants native to the Mediterranean and North Africa are attractive and distinctive, with sweet-scented flowers in shades of pink, red, or white on long stems above the foliage, and silvery patterns on the top sides of their dark green, heart-shaped leaves. With the right conditions, cyclamen will bloom continuously for several months during the fall, winter, and spring, while going dormant during the summer.
Potted cyclamen plants prefer to be in a well-draining, peat-based growing medium, with some compost mixed in.
When the surface of the soil feels dry, it's time to water and let it drain thoroughly. Let the soil become dry between waterings, but just prior to the point of wilting. It is important not to let the crown (center part of the plant) get wet, which could cause rot.
During fall or early winter, fertilize with a low-nitrogen, well-balanced houseplant fertilizer every other week until blooms appear. After the plants begins blooming, you will only need to feed every 3-4 weeks. Overfeeding will result in more foliage rather than blooms. Stop fertilizing after the plant starts to go dormant, usually around April.
Give the cyclamen bright, indirect light in the winter. During the summer, while your plant is dormant, keep it out of bright light - even a shady spot will do.
This is a plant that likes to be kept cool! Keep cyclamen at temperatures between 60-65 degrees F during the daytime and around 50 degrees F at night. Avoid cold or hot drafts. They do not like extreme heat, and are not frost-hardy. Blooms last longest when the plant is kept cool.
Remove any faded blossoms as close to the bottom of the stem as possible using scissors. This encourages more blooming over a longer period of time.
During the winter, cyclamen appreciate high humidity conditions. You can place the plant in a shallow tray of water with pebbles to keep the pot above the water - do not let the plant sit in the water.
Cyclamen will undergo a dormancy period following blooming around April, with the leaves turning yellow and falling off. However, the plant isn't dying - it may just look that way, but it's really just going to sleep! Stop watering once you notice the leaves are yellowing, allow the leaves to die off, and place the plant in a cool, dark, dry place for two months without any watering.
Around September, you will probably start to notice new growth. Following the dormant period, bring the plant out of storage into bright sunlight and begin watering it again. Ensure that the soil is completely soaked, and well drained following watering. Once you see signs of normal leaf growth, resume normal care of the plant. The plant should rebloom shortly.
The Farm at Green Village has plenty of cyclamen plants in stock, in 4" and 6" sizes and multiple colors - come on in and bring one of these bright and unique plants home with you!