Cyclamens (Cyclamen persicum) are attractive easy-care houseplants that will bloom continuously throughout the winter months. They are a unique alternative to the traditional holiday poinsettia or Christmas cactus.
Although it looks delicate, this long-blooming plant is actually quite hardy.They offer an array of showy, brightly colored flowers in white, vivid red, pink, purple, and bicolor. The backswept blossoms resemble a gathering of tiny butterflies, each one perched on top of slender, translucent stems that rise above the dark-green foliage. Much of cyclamens’ charm comes from their intricately veined, heart-shape leaves that are green to maroon and often marbled with silver.
Given the right conditions, cyclamens brought in to bloom for the Christmas season will continue blossoming for two to three months. As each flower fades, remove the entire flower stalk from where it attaches to the tuber by giving it a sharp tug. New flowers will emerge from one of the many buds waiting just below the foliage.
Keep it evenly moist in a cool north window or where the sunlight is not too strong. Day temperatures of 60°F to 68°F and nights at 50° to 55°F are ideal. Ensure good air circulation. Cyclamens actually prefer a drafty old house to one that is toasty and well insulated. If your house is warm, keep your plants by a cool garage window until you want to bring them in for display.
Cyclamens grow from tubers that are half buried in potting soil. When watering, avoid getting water directly on the tubers, which could cause them to rot. A safer method is to place each pot in a saucer of water for about five minutes, or until the soil is uniformly moist. While cyclamens are in bloom, feed them every other week with a half-strength portion of liquid houseplant fertilizer.
In early spring, cyclamens stop blooming; leaves will turn yellow as the plants go dormant. Gradually reduce water until June and pick off the dead leaves; then set the plants outside in partial shade, and water and feed regularly. Do not wet the center of the plant. In early June, stop watering altogether and expose the corms to full sun until the end of July; then begin watering again. When the corms begin to develop young leaves, replant in a larger pot.
Bring them back inside in early fall. They will usually start producing new leaves and flower buds soon, and you will have recycled your cyclamens!